I was never so glad to wake up to the sound of rain. This looks like real rain too. It won’t be the end of the drought; it will take many days of substantial rain to do that, but it’s welcome none-the-less.

My friend , Heather, suggested I do a post about meeting the needs of family members or friends who might be staying with you during an emergency. We were having a conversation about the balancing act one does between being a good host and holding firm to budget lines and belief systems. For instance, I don’t allow anybody to smoke in my house and if you smoke outside, I want you to pick up the cigarette butts. I have no problem enforcing this rule. We don’t purchase bottled water or much of anything in plastic bottles for that matter. But my son is a big soda drinker and when he leaves after a visit, I’m stuck with all of his plastic to dispose of. I have not said anything to him because the bottles would  have to be dealt with an any case and it is no hardship for me to do it.

Here’s what I don’t feel obligated to put away for potential guests. Cigarettes, disposable diapers, soda, junk food or beauty products. I do have cloth diapers, baby bottles, formula and cold weather gear like hats, gloves and boots. I also have a good supply of toothbrushes, razors, combs and hair brushes and sanitary supplies. I keep clothing in various sizes and lots of extra blankets, pillows and a couple of air mattresses. I used to be able to sleep 13 here comfortably but we are rearranging space upstairs and I will not longer have as many beds. I guess I will have to compensate by adding more air mattresses.

The trickier part of having people stay during an extended crisis is dealing with behavior. I have few things I really don’t like. Loud music, shouting, cursing and rough housing inside are a few of those things. I hate a messy house and extra people adds clutter. I need the house quiet after 8:00 as I have a kid trying to sleep. When my adult kids return home for a visit, I let some of this stuff slide as their time with us is limited and I don’t want to spend it in conflict. That would change if they were staying here. The truth of it is that it’s my house and my rules. I would be assigning chores and work schedules and setting limits on the noise.

It’s a good idea to think about this stuff ahead of time. Will you be accepting pets as well as people? What about pet food and waste disposal? How about caffeine? If you aren’t a coffee drinker are you still willing to put a jar away to prevent your mother from suffering from a withdrawal headache? Are you going to let someone come with a bag of junk food that you would rather your kids didn’t eat? What about alcohol? How about discipline of children? One of my kids is stricter than I am. Another is much less so. We pretty much let the parents rule when they visit but for a longer stay, we would have to do some negotiating. I think it’s important to have consistent messages from the adults so I might have to bend on some things and stand firm on others.

I have actually been dealing with this lately. My 18 yo foster child has been bringing home some things like pre-sweetened cereal and poptarts. I don’t buy these and you can imagine that my younger girls are pretty jealous when breakfast for them is oatmeal and J is eating fruit loops. I have let it go as she is moving on Saturday and the problem will no longer exist. Otherwise, I would have to say she couldn’t do it.

I don’t think there are right and wrong answers. It has to do with comfort levels and tolerance. But on the whole, my house is, well, my house and my rules go.

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