mrswinteriscoming
Rockstar December 2021

How to deal with someone else’s messy kids?!

mrswinteriscoming, on August 5, 2020 at 5:11 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 13
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My FBIL and FSIL will be visiting us from interstate in a few months time. At this point it looks like they will be staying with FSIL’s family and otherwise seeing us while in town. They have 2 young (under 4) kids who are very messy and they let them make a mess. Ie the 2 year old will be given Nutella toast to eat and she will walk around with it, drop it on the floor and leave Nutella everywhere. When we stay all together at FH’s family’s house, the floor is always covered in food because of them. While kids do make mess, their parents are pretty relaxed about it and won’t really rush to clean up (spilt milk on the floor cleaned up 30 minutes after it happens etc).


We have a small apartment but we have light furniture, including an expensive, beige fabric couch. I’m worried about the kids trashing our furniture since no one really seems to care about if they’re making a giant mess nor do they hurry to clean it up.
Since it’ll be summertime when they visit we will likely be doing things outdoors a lot but they’ll inevitably come over to our place at some point. How do I deal with the messy kids?! I obviously can’t tell them to watch their kids/actually clean up after them straight away without them taking offense?! I love their children but I don’t want our brand new $2000 couch covered in food!!

13 Comments

Latest activity by Tiger Bride, on August 6, 2020 at 8:22 AM
  • Alisa
    Devoted August 2020
    Alisa ·
    • Flag

    Can you keep them wrangled to one area when they visit? create a kids corner with stuff that safe for them and away from items you want to keep nice.

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  • Caytlyn
    Legend November 2019
    Caytlyn ·
    • Flag
    When my nieces come over we say “sorry, we don’t eat outside of the kitchen!” Making it seem like it’s a rule for us usually makes it easier for the kids to follow and the parents understand that it’s a boundary.
    • Reply
  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith ·
    • Flag
    Play fair with them. Your home is a different place, a d has different house rules. Start the visit by gathering the kids and parents, and explaining the basics. We do not have children, so our house is full of things that break easily. And things that cannot get or stay messy. So a few rules. If you want to have a snack or a drink, you must wash your hands, then sit here, or here, while you eat. No walking around with food. Not ever. When you finish snack, you bring me or mommy ( or whoever) your plate and napkin, and we will help you wash up.
    Get an easily cleaned cover for your couch, likes blanket or a bedspread. Before you have guests, put away small things you do not want thrown, dropped or eaten. You may have to stop the action, parents and kids, repeatedly at first. Everyone, stop a minute. I see someone walking around with food, making a mess. Get that person doing the right thing, and do not every let it slip during the learning period
    Your house, your house rules. Do not apologize. Just acknowledge, outhouse is different than lots. When you're here, this is what you do. Repeat as needed. The only way children get socialized, is by someone taking the time to tech them what is right in each situation. Include the parents, but clearly, you are in charge. 🙂 Mother of 5
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  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith ·
    • Flag
    Our house is different. ( Not outhouse). Oops
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  • MOB So Cal
    January 2019
    MOB So Cal ·
    • Flag

    We're definitely much neater that the majority of our extended family, so we've dealt with these issues for years. (Mostly, husband tries really hard to avoid hosting people he knows are messy.... Smiley winking lol!) If that's not possible, we usually take at least a two-pronged approach. First, good defense, especially with little kids, means putting away breakables and things you're really sentimental about, and I'd buy an inexpensive cover for the sofa (something with a waterproof lining is even better!). If you normally have a nice rug on the floor, I'd roll it up and put it away for their visit. (Or, if you have wall-to-wall carpet, I might buy an inexpensive rug to cover the carpet.) Second, is making it clear that in your home you are going to ask them to follow the rules you follow -- "at our house, we only eat sitting at the table," "we don't wear our shoes in the house, would you please take yours off at the door?", etc. Those are literally rules in our house.... My husband is a bigger stickler than I am, so he's usually the one to greet people at the door and asks them to take their shoes off. If we're having a party, we think a lot about the options we choose for the menu: a drippy dip? NO.... Dry crackers and small slices of cheese? Okay.... Maybe buy the kids some new "special" sippy cups, etc., to use at your house and help reduce the odds of spills (even if they are drinking at the table!). Good luck! Smiley heart

    From experience, you might get labeled the "neat freaks," but oh well! Eventually they are all going to go home and you don't want permanent reminders on your furniture and floors! Smiley winking

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  • Stacey
    Super May 2021
    Stacey ·
    • Flag

    I totally get it - my niece and nephews are sooo messy. I would have no problem explaining to the kids in an age-appropriate way, and in front of their parents, that at your house food is only allowed in the kitchen (or dining room or wherever you want them to eat). Don't be afraid to sweetly correct them if you them with food anywhere else - because at that age they will most assuredly forget. Smiley smile Unfortunately, that means you will have to do the same while they are there so it really sinks in to them that those are the rules. It's your home, and I don't think the parents should find that offensive.

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  • Jana
    Master October 2022
    Jana ·
    • Flag
    In your house, you make the rules. Let them know when they arrive that areas will be off limits, messes cleaned up as they happen, no food/drink except in the kitchen and outdoors, and so on. Enlist your fiance to back you up.
    • Reply
  • mrswinteriscoming
    Rockstar December 2021
    mrswinteriscoming ·
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    We have a 2 bedroom apartment. No room!
    • Reply
  • mrswinteriscoming
    Rockstar December 2021
    mrswinteriscoming ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    We have a dining room but not eat in kitchen. Annoyingly they’re a little bit too little and I don’t even think they’d listen to us, it’s on the parents I just don’t know how to say it to them without offending them!
    • Reply
  • MOB So Cal
    January 2019
    MOB So Cal ·
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    View Quoted Comment

    Kids between 2 and 4 are old enough to be given rules (in the US kids that age often attend preschool where there are definitely expectations to follow simple rules); like a pp suggested, you may have to gently remind them and guide them, but they can follow your expectations. Yes, it will help a lot if their parents are on the same page, but you're entitled to set the expectations in your own home -- even for relatives. Depending on your relationships, either you or your husband can talk with the BIL and/or SIL in advance and give them a heads up. You can be kind and tactful, but if the kids are going to be in your home you have every right to set some parameters about their behavior. If you get significant pushback from the parents, I'd just plan on spending time with them outside of your home. Good luck!

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  • Erin
    Expert May 2021
    Erin ·
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    This!!!! Amen!!!!
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  • Amanda
    Dedicated October 2020
    Amanda ·
    • Flag
    Let them know food and drinks stay at the table. Remind them to pick up their messes. Your house, your rules. You may have to stay on top of them and do a little cleaning up but it’s part of hosting. When my brother and nephew would visit my apartment I was constantly reminding my nephew we had to be much more quiet, dishes went in the sink, and trash in the trash can. Remind them, don’t do it for them.
    • Reply
  • T
    Super April 2021
    Tiger Bride ·
    • Flag

    Do they have to come over to your place? Can you visit with them elsewhere?

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