Sanity SaversTM and More...
August 2006


Just in time for mid-summer relaxing, visiting, or doing whatever you are doing, this month we talk about spending time with others in your home or in someone else’s home.

What’s involved in maximizing your experience of being either a guest or a host (or both)? Recently, someone shared with me her feelings of regret as she realized that she had gone overboard when she invited a family of 6 to stay with her for two weeks while she was working. Trying to entertain and provide for their needs left her exhausted. Her houseguests departed on the 4th of July and she commented that she now understood and celebrated her own version of independence day.

So whether you are hosting or staying with family or friends for a weekend, a week or a month, pay close attention to your role as host or guest as you read these Sanity Savers and Tips:

  • Being a Good Host
  • House Guests

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Wishing you health, peace and balance.


In this issue
  • Sanity SaversTM
    Being a Good Host
  • Happenings
  • Sanity SaversTM
    A Good Daily Habit
  • Sanity SaversTM TIPS
    House Guests
  • A Thought

  • Sanity SaversTM
    Being a Good Host

    COMPANY! Does that word direct a shock through your system? Do you conjure up images of yourself peeping through the curtains pretending you are not home or are you eagerly awaiting the time together when you can enjoy one another?

    Before you have people over be sure you are ready to be a good host.That does not mean that you must work your tail off to prepare legions of gourmet food (although you may want to). It does mean that you make your guests feel as if you are happy they are with you, that you make time to be with them and that you don’t spend the time together feeling as if you are a servant. The whole point of having people visit is to enjoy their company and sometimes the best ways to do that is to plan activities that you enjoy (with and without them) so you have the energy and interest to be together.

    1. Communicate House Rules - You can have expectations for how your guests will behave but unless you tell them, they may not know your guidelines. If you cannot have music blasting after 10:00pm, you need to tell them. If you don’t want wet towels in the hamper, you need to tell them. If sitting on the velvet chair in a wet bathing suit (even on a towel) is going to drive you insane, you need to tell them what is off limits. If you live in an adult oriented home, be careful about extending invitations to people with children.
    2. Tolerate Normalcy - You are not going to change someone’s life long habits so be sure you are able to share a bathroom, a kitchen, or whatever, BEFORE you extend an invitation. When people arrive with children, expect kid play. It’s best to put away breakables before guests arrive than risking shattered china on the hard wood floor.
    3. Make Them Feel At Home - When you open your home to someone, you also need to open your heart so they feel welcome. If the visit brings tension, make the best of the situation and see it through. If someone breaks something accidentally they are probably feeling bad enough, so try and be as gracious as you can. Accidents happen.
    4. Delegate – Why do all the work? Let guests pitch in and have fun. At mealtime, they can help by slicing and dicing while you prepare the main meal. If your guests offer to buy dinner as a “thank you” consider letting them do that. Second vacation home owners with lots of overnight guests know that those who strip their beds at the end of their stay and come with their own beach towels, are welcome delights!
    5. Who’s on Vacation? - Sometimes when your guests are on vacation, they expect you to be too. Entertaining while trying to keep up with your normal schedule can be overwhelming. Falling into bed exhausted because you are trying to be the best possible host can also breed resentment. Either take a few days off from your normal routine or make it clear to your guests that you have other obligations. If you are not going to be able to chauffer, ask guests to rent a car or find other transportation. Give them a copy of the train and bus schedules
    6. Plan Time Together and Alone - Realize that the time will likely fly by if you are having fun with your guests. But you can only enjoy your time together if you are taking care of yourself aside from tending to their needs. If you usually arise in the morning to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee and read the paper, you may need to wake up earlier in order to sneak in that quite time. On the other hand, if your guests are up at the crack of dawn then either read together or find another time of the day to be alone.

    The most valuable gift you can give to your guests is being a gracious host.


    TODAY Show (NBC)
    Weekend Edition, Saturday, Aug. 12th
    Emotional Cheating
    Dates and times of other upcoming segments will be posted on Dr. Dale's website.

    Naomi's New Morning (Naomi Judd)
    Sunday, August 20th, 9:00am Foundations
    The Hallmark Channel

    The Lisa Birnbach Radio Show
    Every other Wednesday, 9:20-10:00am
    Hear Dr. Dale LIVE on August 23rd.
    (The Lisa Birnbach Show airs LIVE Mon-Fri 9am-Noon EST)

    >>Go to the Lisa Birnbach Show

    Jack Birnberg Radio Show (WVNJ/1160am)
    August 22nd, 9:30am

    The Washington Times
    Sunday, August 13th, Family Section
    Vacationing with Family and Friends

    Sanity SaversTM
    A Good Daily Habit

    Acknowledge one thing that someone does for you.

    Let your hosts know you appreciated their hospitality by calling when you get home to say thanks or sending a simple note. Tell your guests something special about the time spent together.

    Everyone likes to know that their efforts are noticed.

    Sanity SaversTM TIPS
    House Guests

    Everyone, at one time or another, stays in someone else’s home. You may be on the couch in the family room, on an air mattress with the kids or in your own beautiful guest accommodation. The blankets may be too many or too few, overly itchy or worn, the pillows puffy or flat, you may be sharing a bathroom with three teens or have the chance to soak in a sumptuous bath.

    Wherever you are and whatever the circumstance, remember to be considerate because you are in someone’s home. If you want room or maid service, stay at a hotel. The best guests are those who pitch in where needed and who stay out of the way when not.

    There are a few things you can do to make yourself feel comfortable, useful, and at home without taking over and imposing yourself in a way that makes your host appreciate your presence. And remember, don’t overstay your welcome. It’s and old joke that guests and fish have one thing in common; they’re both no longer good after 3 days.

    • Gifts of Thanks - It can be food to share during your stay, flowers, or something unique that “fits” your host’s taste. Offer to pick up the check at dinner, cook your favorite specialty, buy ice cream after the movies, or pay for pancakes at the local diner. If food is involved, check food preferences and allergies. It is better to know beforehand that three people in the family are vegetarians BEFORE you prepare your famous chicken salad. After you leave, send a thoughtful note, preferably hand written, in which you share some of the highlights of your time together.
    • Be Clean and Tidy - Regardless of the housekeeping habits of your host, keep your space neat. If you are uncomfortable with the arrangement of their furniture or accessories, it is not your prerogative to redecorate. You can do this in your mind’s eye but not in reality (unless, of course, you are asked to help redesign the space in which case you can have a lot of fun.) When you cook, clean up the kitchen. When you are ready to leave strip the bed, wipe out the sink and tub and empty the trash.
    • If You Break Something, Own Up to It - Whatever you do, don’t hide it in the drawer and let your host find the pieces three weeks after you’ve gone. Don’t throw broken items away because it may be a sentimental piece or repairable (even if you don’t think so). Apologize sincerely instead of commenting, “This was sitting too close to the edge of the tabletop and was waiting for a tumble.” Try to avoid repeated apologies. A better thing to do is offer to pay for the piece or help find a replacement.
    • Your Calls are Your Responsibility – Today we all have cells phone or phone cards. This is the time to use them.
    • Everyone Needs Privacy – Give each other space. If your host is involved in a private conversation, excuse yourself, take a walk, or read a book in another part of the house. Do not share information you have overheard. Try to keep to your own routine of exercise, quiet time or whatever you do to keep your balance.
    • Know “Sacred” Places - Before you plop yourself down, find out which is “papa’s” chair or if the space is an off- limits meditation corner.

    A good guest is mindful of the host’s needs.

    A Thought


    Do Hyun Choe (Sugi Master)

    DALE V. ATKINS Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, lecturer and commentator in the media who appears on the Today show.

    She has more than twenty- five years of experience and focuses on living a balanced life, parenting, aging well, managing stress, life & work transitions, family connections and healthy relationships.

    Dr. Atkins is the author and/or co-editor of several books including:

  • Sisters
  • From the Heart:
    Men and Women Write Their Private Thoughts about their Private Lives
  • Families and their Hearing-Impaired Children
  • I'm OK, You're My Parents
    How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger and Create a Relationship that Works
  • and her latest book . . .

  • Wedding Sanity Savers
    How to Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes and Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect Day.
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