The problem: Out-of-town friends with a young child came to visit us at our cabin. I spent days cleaning up and clearing paths, then made at least three trips to the grocery store, cooked every meal and constantly dealt with wet towels. While our friends occasionally helped with dishes and bought tickets to an event one night, I felt exhausted by all of it. Since they were our guests, was I expecting too much of them, in terms of sharing costs and helping out? They want to come back, and I’m trying to figure out how to welcome them without feeling used.
Low road: Tell them you’d love to host again but, this time, you want to offer the real cabin experience. Hand ’em sheets and point to the shed.
High road: You were kind to extend an invitation, and it sounds like you want to keep them as friends, despite their low ranking on the Top Visitors scale. The problem here is with expectations.
If they were visiting you in your home, for example, you might view a constant presence in your kitchen as intrusive. Similarly, on the cabin front, some owners love to do everything; they may consider it rude to ask guests to pitch in. But your cabin vision of “many hands make light work” (and maybe dinner, too) is perfectly reasonable, and a quite common approach.
Before they, or any, new guests arrive, send out an enthusiastic e-mail with directions and a meal sign-up. Make a joke (hint! hint!) that those who cook don’t have to clean up afterward. Consider going grocery shopping together, to make sure they have a few favorite items in the pantry and fridge, and everything they need for their meal or two. In all likelihood, they were simply waiting to be asked.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad