When I was a young mother, I would visit old folks homes and my grandmothers home with my baby.  The elderly just love looking at little babies.  They probably see something eternal about new life.  They, at the end of their days, with every page of their story written.  Stories of years gone by, different times, risks taken, joyous moments of raising families, and the regrets of dreams never fulfilled-it was their life lived out.   Their children are old and grandchildren are too busy to visit.  Through their old worn out eyes, they see something so wonderful about a baby.  A life full of empty pages and stories untold.  Their dry and withered hand stretches forth to touch the softness of the babies hand and they are lost in the moment.

My weekly visits were much anticipated.  The older ladies would look forward to my visits.  Grandma could not wait to hold the baby.  I could take them anywhere and the elderly would just hold my contented babies for hours.  

When I would be in a store and see a mother toting a kicking and screaming toddler under her arm, dragging the child out of the store, I would judge her.  I would say, "My kid will never do that!!!"
With my baby in arm, sweetly gurgling, I would scorn at other mothers.  My babies never fussed, they were so sweet. They would not pitch fits like that.  I will train them to be good.

I was in for it! Pride Goeth before the fall!

By the time I had three little ones, my oldest was getting into the toddler years and I was not ready for the fight ahead.  He would beg and plead, dragging my skirt with him, begging for a toy in the store.  My sweet little Miles would lay down in the isle and kick and scream.
I became the frazzled mother I so quickly judged one year before! 

My kids were not just cute anymore, they were a pickle.  When I would take the three over to the old folks home, I learned quickly how nervous the poor old ladies would become as my child would tear around the room.  I eventually had to stop going because I knew it was causing more harm than good.

I needed to train the children how to behave properly so we could be a blessing when we visit others...

I started to give them little lessons on how to act.  We would pretend to sit quietly on the sofa, or tip toe around the house like "little indians" (My grandfather who was a native american taught me this when I was little).  So quiet that not even a mouse could hear us.  It was a fun game for us.  Then if they did not get their way and scream, I would tell them how I will not give them anything if they fuss, making sure I NEVER gave in to their fits.  Amazingly, the fits stopped and life became more peaceful again.  I could start visiting again, yeah!


Etiquette In Children...
Train your children to be "good company".  Teach them to be quiet when you are visiting with others.

When they are with you, train them to be respectful of your conversations with their daddy or other people.  There is nothing more frustrating than a out of control child when you are having a conversation on the phone or in person.  The child demands your attention.  Every couple of minutes you have interruptions to answer their demands.  No.  That is not okay.  The child can learn manners and above all, patience.  Have you ever wondered how you would attend to your child's needs for 14 hours out of the day and they wait until you pick up the phone to make a five minute phone call to start demanding things?  It is because you trained them to do that.  I had signals to my children for being silent.  I would place my finger over my lips for a warning.  Next, I would hold up my index finger, showing them that they will have a consequence.

This is not a license for moms to sit and gab for hours on the phone. 
I am talking about the times you need to make an important call that only lasts a few minutes.  Do not tempt them by spending too much time on the phone. If you do want to visit on the phone, pick a time that the children are napping.

My children learned that it was not in their best interest to interrupt their parents.  Rather, they would learn patience and wait to ask their questions until I was free to answer them.  It is unseemly behavior to go to someone's home and have your child demand, demand, demand.  It is not their fault, it is yours for not teaching them patience.  It reflects poorly on your mothering.   

Training Children To Behave Unseemly...
If your kids jump on the furniture and damage toys at your home, they will do it at others homes.

If you do not teach any value or stewardship to things they own or respect for things you own, they will not learn to be respectful of others' things.

I have had people visit that allow their kids to pound on the piano, jump on our beds, and open our refrigerator.  They wreck stuff and I feel like kicking them off my property.  Instead, if you train them to take care of their toys when they are little, they will take care of your things when they are older.  They will learn how to be a good steward to the things God blesses them with.  

What amazes me, is that some mothers have no discretion at all.  They hear their child pounding on the piano, and smile.  They see their child jumping on the bed and just laugh.  The child sits on the floor ripping pages out of a book and they just ignore it.  Have people no respect?  If my kids were tearing stuff off shelves at my home I would make them clean it up or at least teach them not to do that. When I would visit others, if my child would stand on the furniture, I would immediately take them down and scold them.

I would give preparatory instruction before entering someone's home or a store.

Children need instruction.  Period.  Before you enter any new place, you must tell them what they can and can not do.  Tell them what the consequences will be and what you expect of them.  If we were going shopping, I would tell the kids in the car, "Do not ask for anything.  Do not run around in the isles.  Do not climb on the cart. Do not yell or talk loudly.  Finally, do not touch anything!  If you do not obey, we will immediately leave the store."

When we would visit someone, I would instruct the kids in the car, "Do not ask for food.  Do not climb on the furniture.  Do not touch anything unless the other children share with you.  Do not interrupt my conversations.  Place your hand on my arm if you have a question and I will know you need something urgent.  If you do not obey, we will leave immediately." It sounds like I am a mean mamma, but I never had to leave.  They learned to obey and respect.  Sure, I have had many situations come up where my kids behaved unseemly, it is to be expected occasionally.  Kids are kids, after all.

I am a kid friendly person.  I let the kids be kids, run and play.  Now that they are older, I instruct them to play outside if they are wanting to be wild and free.     


Visiting Etiquette

If you are planning a visit, always bring something to pass, unless the hostess instructs you otherwise.  If you have a larger family and you are invited to eat a meal at someone's home, ask a few simple questions:

  • "Can I help with anything?"
  • "Is there something I can contribute to the meal?"
  • "Can I help clean up after the meal?"

It shows you care and if you show some simple curtesy, they will be glad to invite you over again.  

Overnight or Extended Visits...
If you are planning a trip and staying overnight at someone's home make sure you follow a few easy steps:

Bring your own bath towels and bedding, so your hostess does not have to do more laundry.  If the hostess offers her machine to wash your clothing, be very thankful.  You could ask to use the machine, but bring your own soap if you are staying long, unless they offer their soap to you.  The object of the game is to not cost your hostess more money and time.  Bring your own soaps, tooth brushes, and other toiletries that you will need on your visit.

Bed Wetters:
If you have a bed wetter, make sure to buy extra diapers, a floor mat or rubber sheet, and a plastic bag to put soiled or wet clothing/bedding in.  Store the mess in your car.  If your child would accidentally pee in the bed, let your hostess know immediately and find out how you can fix the situation.  Do not allow your hostess to smell your bed wetters bedding and clean it up themselves.

Bring Food:
Always bring your own food so you can contribute.  If the hostess does not want you to contribute, save your food for the trip home.  It is better to have the option of contributing than to make an impression that you expect them to feed you.  Always offer to assist in meal preparations.

Clean up after yourself and your family:
Make sure to pick up your living quarters.  Make beds, tidy up, and fold clothing.  Do not leave your area a mess.  If you are eating, make sure to help clean up after meals.  If you have small children that play with toys, be sure to help the child clean up the toys before bedtime or before meals.  Especially before you leave, clean up to the best of your ability.  Do not leave a pig sty or mess for your hostess. That is very unseemly.  They were nice enough to offer you a place to stay, you should not make it more work for them than is needed.

Eating Meals:
If you are invited to stay for all the meals, count it an honor.  A perfect hostess will make sure to ask you what you prefer eating.  Highly unlikely.  Expect that your hostess will serve things that are not exactly what you are used to eating.  Instruct your children to take very little so they can finish their plates.  It seems very wasteful and ungrateful if your child leaves a whole plate of food sitting at the table uneaten.  They should be taught to NEVER complain about the food at home.  If they do not like the food, they should not be allowed to yell "I do not like this, this is gross, I hate this food, or I won't eat this!!! "  That is just plain embarrassing for you and insulting to the hostess.  If they do not like what they are being fed, instruct them to wait until the hostess is distracted for them to quietly let you know.  Then you have time to scrape their food onto your plate or into a napkin if you are like me.  Just try not to make a scene about it.

Quiet Time:
Try to make sure your hostess has some down time, too.  Do a family nap time or a family walk time.  Give your hostess some room to breath.  She is so glad you there, but everyone needs a break from visiting.  It helps you to unwind and talk privately with your husband for a bit.  If your family wakes earlier than usual, make sure you keep everyone quiet.  Teach the children not to talk loudly or slam doors.  Before bedtime ask your hostess what time they usually get up.  If they get up much later than your family, respect their sleeping times.  Make sure to pack breakfast foods along just in case.  Simple things like granola bars, hard boiled eggs, fruit, or yogurt cups will help tide the children over until a meal is served.  That way you can take a walk outside or drive around while the other family is sleeping.  They are working hard after all on your behalf, so it is nice to make sure they have their rest.


Final Thoughts...

The important thing about visiting is to not wear out your welcome.  Do not overwhelm your hostess.  Be a blessing.  I have several young ladies that visit and they are such a blessing.  They help me in the kitchen, they ask how they can contribute, and they clean up the mess.  I love big crowds of guests and often times I will have over 20 people with lots of little children scampering about.  I sometimes have to tell them to sit and visit, that we will take care of it later.  Better that than having someone not say anything, leave a big mess, and you wish they would never return because you know you will have a ton of work when they leave.  Overall, just think of others before yourself!  It is that simple and the rewards will be eternal.

Just for a reminder…

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  • The following Tuesday will be featuring Owen Newman from the hills of TN talking about homesteading and the simple life.  He has a lot of wisdom and experience living with less and making the most of each and every resource they are given.  If you have any specific questions, please leave a comment below or send us an email or message on Facebook from the Keeper of the Homestead page.  

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0 thoughts on “Visiting Etiquette

  1. I appreciate the statement you made several times about how a child should not interrupt his parents. I agree. Yet, I have a question. My husband is a great man, and has many ideas. He talks of his ideas non-stop, and I have duly trained our children to wait until Daddy is finished before speaking. However, he can talk… a lot… for a looong time. A child may literally have to wait 20 minutes before Daddy is done with his idea. He does not appreciate being interrupted, yet my Mother’s heart says that they are often waiting too long. What can I do to respect my husband while attending to the needs of my children?

  2. You may want to share with your husband privately that he has an amazing audience at the dinner table and if we could try an experiment:when he has a story or idea to share, after 10 minutes of sharing, can we allow “Johnny” or “susie” to raise her hand and ask you a question about your idea to better understand your thoughts. Then it’s a give and take. Then, privately, I would tell the kids to be listening to dad’s story to ask him a question. Each child gets one question for starts to see how it works out.

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