• Barbara

Family and Expectations

We have recently had a "spell" of overnight visits from family to our house. Since moving a couple of years ago, weekend or a longer stays by family has become the norm. We have had to adapt to this new experience, as in the past family and friends have always lived nearby.

Now, there’s quite a lot of planning before any overnight visitors arrive, apart from the obvious making up of beds, finding the guest towels, shopping and cleaning. As far as my daughter is concerned all her activities will go ahead as usual and family will have to slot in around these e.g. Saturday Club, Sunday out with her PA, After School Clubs. My daughter’s expectations of what will happen when the visitors arrive have to be realistically managed. Depending on who is staying, I may build in extra PA time or reduce the PA time so trips together can be organised.

The challenge I seem to face more frequently is when family visit and begin questioning the way we support my daughter and ask the same old questions about her care and support needs. Oh, and the biggest question of all…..What will you do when she is an adult and no longer at school? My reply….support her to do what she wants to do

Now don’t get me wrong, they are not all negative and critical, or patronising, some are complimentary. The biggest issue I have is that they seem to want me and my partner to be available most of the time for chats, outings and even making their coffee, before we support our daughter, this has recently caused stress and tension in our home. I have now started to openly say when I will be available to sit for a chat and ‘catch up’ or when I most certainly won’t be. I’m a little fed up with the ‘come and sit down and watch this programme, surely those things can wait’ when it’s bath and bedtime and takes two of us. I’ve said what restaurants are easily accessible for my daughter, I no longer encourage her to come to the dinner table if it’s too much and suggest that she and her older sister eat in a quieter room.

My daughter, following our last visits from her Aunty, Uncle and Nan, all at once was that the house is a bit too busy and she feels its a bit too much for her. So how do you broach that subject with said visitors? My daughter said she felt that she was ignored or talked to like a baby by her Aunty, but loved playing games and singing with Nan. Uncle was OK, at least he smiled. I think we are entering a stage where hotels may have to be suggested, but that’s difficult when you have sufficient space and rooms. Maybe there needs to be some shift in attitude and behaviour before the next visit. It’s hard not to appear rude, but I feel the time has come for a little bit of honesty.

In contrast, we have a friend due to visit this weekend. He has already checked and double checked that it is OK to stay at the house. He has asked me to plan activities that fit in with the whole family, as well as a trip for the adults to the pub. He knows where the kettle is, and is happy to make his own tea and even remembers how my daughter likes hers. She is looking forward to seeing him and has asked to go out for breakfast like last time he came!!

How do we manage these times with family, and make them a positive experience for everyone? I’m not sure there really is a solution, so will muddle on as best we can.


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