I live near family and friends. My friends joke that my home is like “Grand Central Station” because most Shabbat afternoons my house is busy with kids and guests. I loved it in the beginning but now I’m burnt out.
I have six young kids and no cleaning help on Shabbat. My guests don’t watch their children, so when they leave I have to clean my home from top to bottom. My house is a mess by the end of Shabbat and my children complain that their toys got ruined and that I didn’t spend time with them. My husband is also upset that I have to clean the whole motzaei Shabbat instead of relaxing and talking.
My question is, how can I stop this without offending anyone?
I love guests with a limit
It must be wonderful to be so popular. But I guess even that has its limits. Yes, people can be inconsiderate at times, but there’s also a chance that the children and/or the parents don’t realize the extent to which they have overstepped their bounds.
Generally, a grownup does not have to correct someone else’s child if they see him doing something wrong. However, in this case, it has a direct effect on you. Therefore, I would suggest a three-step approach. (Hopefully, you never need to get to Step 3).
Step 1 – the next time that guests come over, call over one of the (middle-aged) kids and speak to him privately. “You know, the last time everyone was here, one of the children broke Joey’s toys and messed up his whole room. His father and I were very upset. Do me a favor, tell the other kids to try to be more careful and to make sure to put away whatever they take out.”
If necessary, repeat Step 1 privately several times that day with different children.
If the situation does not improve, the next week, try Step 2.
Step 2 – “Sarah, you know we love having you and the kids every Shabbat, but last week one of the children, I’m not sure who, broke Joey’s toy, etc.” Please tell your children, at least, to be more careful, etc.”
If necessary, repeat Step 2 privately several times that day with different parents.
Hopefully, by now, everyone has gotten the message. If the situation still does not improve, proceed to Step 3.
Step 3 – “Sarah / Rebecca / Rachel / Leah, I asked you last week if you could please watch your children so my house doesn’t get turned into chaos. It’s not working. I hate to do this but I think from now on, I have to make Shabbat afternoon get-togethers by invitation only.”
Then choose who you want to invite and when.
Of course, you could do that too from the outset and simply let everyone know, “This Shabbat is only our family.”
Shabbat Shalom Shalom