Nurturing My Nest Blog

Routines and Rhythms of Homemaking
Intentional Homebuilding & Custom Built Education
 Based in Tennessee. Available for travel.

10 Things TO DO When Visiting Your Parents as an Adult

So, we recently had a conversation on 25 Ways Parents Provoke Their Children to Anger which led to some feedback about ways that grown children can be good guests when they visit their parents. I kid you not. You can’t make this stuff up. So, because we have five children coming and going, I was asked to comment on this topic.

We can agree that relationships take work. Our interaction with our parents or with our children is no exception. Open, honest conversations lead to better relationships. Everyone deserves a seat at the table or an opportunity to enter the conversation. Whether you are the parent or grown child, your feedback is requested. Please share your ideas on this topic in the comments below. Let’s talk about Things TO DO as an Adult When Visiting Your Parents.

This conversation could have gone lots of different ways, but taking a positive approach might be more fun. Remember, I have been an adult child to my parents and now I am a parent of adult children. So, I have thought about this from both angles. Granted, I was the oldest child of four, so I took up a great deal of responsibility as a child. Fortunately, my mother lived until I was 54. For this I am deeply grateful. As I thought about this topic, I recognized that I had more years to visit my parents when I was an adult that the years I lived in their home as child. My mother was a highly productive, kind, thoughtful, busy, in-demand person who succeeded in being a great mom even though lots of people outside our family needed her. As a child/teenager I always tried to help her with the work in the kitchen and everywhere else in the house. When I came to visit as an adult, I appreciated all the work it took for her to clean the house, prepare the room I would stay in, plan all the things for my children to enjoy their visit with their grandparents, fetch and prepare all of the food for our visit and a myriad of other work.

I am a parent. I am not perfect. I deeply desire to have a close relationship with my adult children, their spouses and my grandchildren. I know lots of parents in our season of grown children with just the same goal. Living as a grown child with your parents takes adjustment as well. Don’t forget that you are changing and your parents are changing too. They are learning how to parent adult children in the same way that you are learning how to be an adult. Apply the golden rule here. Do as you would have others do to you. If you are already a parent to littles or imagine yourself being a parent in the future, imagine how would you want your children to treat you when they grow up to be adults?

The 10 ideas below are just thoughtful ways to be a guest in your parent’s home when you visit:

  1. Be thankful. Stop and think of truthful ways that you voice gratitude to your parents.
  2. Eyes wide open. Look at your parents as human beings. Grieve with them. Celebrate with them. Know them. Observe. Respond. Encourage.
  3. Leave your parent’s home better than it was when you came. Is there a project that you can do together? I used to help my parents with cleaning and organizing projects. Maybe you can paint a space together or put in a new section of the yard or build an outdoor living area.
  4. Plan fun, memory making activities for your visit. Treat your parent or parents out to a meal. Take them for a day trip on you. Buy them something you know they need. You will never catch up to all they have done for you. Be as generous as possible!! Spoil your parents.
  5. Spend time talking about happy memories. Ask thoughtful questions. Listen. Shoot video of your parents telling stories. Take pictures of you and your mom or you and your dad. Take close ups of you with each parent. Ask to see pictures in the house. Make notes behind those pictures in archiver safe ink or post-in notes. Know the important stories in the house. Consider creating memory books. For more ideas, see Photo Books – 10 Steps to Legacy Building.
  6. Ask if you can help with something on your visit. Just ask. Maybe you can do a job that takes two people. Many projects go faster with a helper. Recently, when we moved into a new house, three of our adult children were here to help us for a few days. Not only were they incredible helpers, it was fantastic to spend time with them in this exciting time.
  7. Clean the kitchen often. Make meals if possible. Share the food preparation, cost and cleanup. After all, you are a grown up now keeping your own space elsewhere. You do these things in your own home.
  8. Help with everything. Don’t create work. Keep your items in one place, preferably in the room where you are staying. In other words, don’t leave your things strewn around.
  9. As you leave, put clean sheets on the bed where you slept. (Look in nightstand for second set of sheets.) Take all sheets and towels down to the laundry room. Wipe down the toilet, shower and sink area. (Cleaning supplies are under the sink in each bathroom at our house.)
  10. Bring a gift that you give when you arrive or one with you arrive and one when you leave. Include a well thought out thank you note. Come prepared with a lovely card. Don’t forget that most moms love a pretty presentation. This is one time that a wrapped or bagged gift is appreciated.

Update: Tim and I LOVE when our kids come to visit! Some of the best things that have happened recently when they have dropped in to our new home on the mountain. Mikayla jumped off the airplane for a few days visit with her arms full of peonies, fresh sourdough bread and fresh ground coffee! Joseph lives nearby and comes frequently to help with projects. He bought a home nearby where we visit to help him with his projects. Recently, we spent several days helping him put up a fence.

My married daughter, Katie, and her family come with their littles and pups. When I visit them, I change the sheets and towels and wipe down the bathroom. That makes her life easy. Likewise, she takes the sheets and towels and brings them down to the laundry room.

Talk with your parents to find out what is the most helpful. Maybe you can decide what you like when they visit you. Do the same when you visit them. Maybe your family has a pattern when visiting other people’s home. Perhaps your parents taught you to be “good company.” This is simply about being “good company” when you are with your parents. Easy!

I recently read a story on IG that made me feel sad. It read “POV: You and your wife are 81 and your times are coming to an end. Months are flying by like days. Our friends are in heaven. We never see our kids. We miss our parents. Being old is strange.” Don’t let your parents ever write that about their situation. I certainly tried to make sure my parents never had reason to feel lonely when they were living.

Don’t neglect your parents outside your visits. Call frequently. Invite them to your place. Memory making options are great when they come to see you too. If your parent or parents live nearby, include them as often as possible. Granted, many families are complicated. If your parents are separate, navigate a workable option for each of them.

My hope is that you have a wonderful relationship with your parents. You are visiting them as frequently as you wish your children will visit you when they are grown. When you do go to your parent’s home for a visit, remember these easy ideas and make your visit one of the best ones ever! Make memories!

One of our values is to live without regret. Life moves fast. Don’t be oblivious. Slow down to think intentionally.

Join the on-going conversation on the the Embrace Your Everyday podcast.

More on FAMILY:

Empty Arms: The Journey of Infertility, Miscarriage and Children

The Heart of ANGER: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children

The Friendship Recession

The Value of a Good Father

Loving on New Moms with Babies

Vance Vacation: Building Family Community

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