How to be a Great Guest in Your Parent’s Home

By Ali Luke

November 21, 2008   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Parents Home

Even once you’re an adult, there are dozens of occasions you’ll want to stay at your parents’ home.

Whether you’re a student wanting somewhere to sleep rent-free during the summer, a broke graduate needing a base to job-hunt from, or simply in town for an extended holiday, here’s eight easy and sure-fire ways to be a great guest in your parents’ home (and to be sure you’re invited back!).

  • Show up with flowers or another small gift

    Even if you’re a full time undergraduate, presenting your mom with a giant bag of laundry the minute you walk in the door might not make the best first impression. How about picking up a bunch of cheerful flowers on the way home (they don’t have to be pricy) or a box of chocolates? My college sold bottles of wine and port with the college crest on the label. Those made for nice gifts.If you work full-time and are just popping home for a few days, the same still goes; take along a little gift that is associated with your home city or state.

  • Make yourself at home but don’t take them for granted

    Unless your parents have moved since you lived at home, you probably know where everything is kept. Don’t stand on ceremony. Help yourself to coffee, but ask if anyone else wants one too. Get your own snacks, though check you’re not inadvertently eating your younger sister’s last cookie.

    Don’t take your parents for granted, though. Inviting a bunch of friends over without asking, then raiding the liquor cabinet, is unreasonable behavior.

  • Help out with chores without being asked

    One guaranteed way to impress your mom and dad is to do any little chores you spot – without them having to ask. If they’ve gone to work or shopping and you’re in the house, why not do the washing up, unpack the dishwasher, give the bathroom a quick clean, or put on a load of laundry for them?

    It doesn’t take up much of your time and it’s worth it for the look on your mom’s face when she comes home and realizes the “washing-up fairy” has magically changed a heap of dirty dishes into neatly-stacked clean ones.

  • Offer to cook dinner

    This one might depend on your culinary skills but if you’re at home for an extended stay, offer to cook dinner at least once a week. (If you really can’t cook, at least offer to help your mom or dad when they’re preparing a meal – perhaps you could chop up veg or prepare a salad.) 
    Preparing a meal also works well if you’re visiting home for a particular occasion. My boyfriend and I cooked a three-course Mothers’ day lunch for my mother and grandmother this year and it was very well received!

  • Tell them if you’re going out

    One of the nice things about independent adult life is the ability to come and go as you please. But when you’re staying with your parents, it’s courteous to let them know that you’re going out and give them an idea of when you’ll be back.

  • Spend quality time with them – join in with family activities

    Don’t just treat your parents’ place as a free motel to crash at when you stagger home in the early hours. Spend a few evenings with your family; maybe seeing a movie (even if it’s not quite what you’d have picked), or going bowling or to the ice rink with them.
    If you have younger siblings, this is a great way to reconnect with them. Yes, you’ve grown up and perhaps grown apart in the past few years – but you might find you now have new things in common.

  • Be willing to adjust your routine to match your family’s

    Student sleeping habits can sometimes be a little … different … to those of the rest of the world. If you habitually go to bed at four am and rise in time for a late lunch, you may need to modify your schedule a bit. The same goes for mealtimes – maybe you normally order a late-night pizza, but your family eats dinner at six.

    Try to fit in with family life, even if that means learning how to get up early.

  • Send a “thank you for having me” note

    After a visit to your parents’, you should send a thank you note (sometimes known as a “bread-and-butter note”). It doesn’t need to be long; just use a nice note card and write something like, “Thank you for having me to stay last week. It was great to catch up with everyone, and wonderful to have some home cooking!” 

Your parents probably won’t expect to get a note, so it’s a nice way to surprise them and to ensure that you’ll be welcome back next time!

Are you a regular guest in your parents’ home, with tips on how to make the visit go smoothly? Or do you have student kids who regularly appear on the doorstep and take you for granted? Let us know your experiences!

Ali Luke

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