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Expats smart - Surviving a summer of visitors!

For many of us expats this is the season for prolonged visits from family and friends. It's a time of anticipation, excitement and - let's be honest here - some apprehension and strain too. How can we best survive a summer of visitors? Val Boyko explains.

Few guidelines to make the best of the time spent with friends and family.

It sounds SOooo simple. But how often do we become so wrapped up in our role as hosts, tour guides, chauffeurs, housekeepers and chefs that we allow resentment to spoil OUR enjoyment?

Val's Tips for Surviving a Summer of Visitors

1. Set expectations up front. Let visitors know what the weather will be like, what clothes to pack, the options for getting around, activities available etc. and encourage them to do their own homework and choose what they would like to do. If they have an unrealistic idea of what it will be like, you could ALL be miserable!

2. Provide house rules. People are sometimes shocked when I tell them I have a list of guest rules posted. It started out as a joke because the house felt like hotel, and includes exit instructions; no feeding dogs at the table; chauffeur available with 24 hour notice; and cooked breakfasts provided on sundays only. I also added a choice of tasks that guests can choose from - from setting the table for dinner to unloading the dishwasher and watering plants. It works!  Be creative and have fun with it.

3. Plan down time - for you AND them. Being together can be a strain for everyone. Recognise that this is human nature and normal. An overnight stay away can make everyone appreciate the time together again. Create ways to get away for a few hours - even a trip to the dry cleaners can work wonders!

4. Start every day with a positive intention. My intention for today is ......

5. Focus in what YOU want to do too. Be honest - "Do I really want to go to the museum for the umpteenth time?" Don't be afraid to express your view and offer an alternative. So often we feel an obligation to be together all the time, and then force ourselves to put up with something we don't want to do. The result can be that we are miserable. What a WASTE.

6. Avoid blaming others if you are feeling unhappy. Ask yourself  "What is preventing me from enjoying this experience? What are my options here to change the situation? What action can I take to enjoy this more"?

7. ..... Lighten up! Laughter stimulates the same physical changes and endorphine release as exercise. There may not be many more summers like this, so make the most of it and have FUN.



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