Whether it was the countless dinners, the endless pick-ups from dodgy locations or helping us move house, it’s fair to say our parents have done a lot. So one of the first rites of adulting, when you finally move into your own place that isn’t shared with flatmates, is to host them at yours.
Don’t roll your eyes, it really isn’t that bad. Hosting mainly goes wrong when you don’t plan or prep, and it’s a wonderful way to giving back to your parents for all that time they spent on you.
The first thing you need to decide is whether to have them over for a meal or an overnight stay. If they’ve never been over before and they don’t live too far away, then a straightforward dinner is a great chance to experiment and learn from what you did wrong. (And trust us, there will definitely be something you did wrong).
Whatever the length of stay, you’ll want to start first with planning. Indie Foolheea, a 30-year-old digital consultant, said that when her mum and two siblings came over, she planned what food and snacks she and her husband would cook.
This is not the time to get lofty ambitions about being a Michelin star chef. ‘Cook something they are familiar with and enjoy eating,’ Indie says. ’I had most of the food cooked before they came so the flat didn’t smell of food and lit a couple of candles.′
Lucinda Taylor, a 49-year-old stay-at-home mum, says that if you have small kids, something as simple as popping a travel kettle in their room helps. ‘It keeps them out of the way of the morning madness,’ she says.
Clean like you’ve never cleaned before. Or rather, imagine you’re showing off your home to prospective buyers. ‘Many years ago, before my mum came to visit me, I cleaned my flat thoroughly from top to bottom,’ says Katie Bell, a 39-year-old doctor. ‘Or so I thought. Almost the first thing my mum said to me when she came through the door was “don’t you clean your skirting boards?” Now I have a cleaner and I never have to worry about dirty skirting boards ever again.’
Fresh sheets are a must, and don’t think cleaning just extends to what you can see. Unless you have cupboards you can lock – like Monica’s ‘secret closet’ in Friends – your mother can and will feel it is well within her rights to poke around and see whether or not you’re folding your clothes like a grown-up.
If you have outdoor space, extend your tidying to the garden – even if it means getting a gardener in for a refresh.
As for amenities, a lot of tension can be headed off if you get the things you know they like to use at home. That ranges from the type of coffee they like to the brand of teabags, and even sparkling water if that’s their preference.
The secret to a successful stay is understanding that unlike your friends staying over, your parents generally have no filter when it comes to making ‘helpful tips.’
A big part of diffusing the tension around these tips is to create a schedule around their stay so you aren’t packed together like sardines in an intense environment. Give them some down-time, for instance in the afternoon, if it’s a weekend stay. Or if they like to be busy, schedule some activities that they can do on their own if you need a few hours of breathing space.
It may sound fastidious, but even basic details such as researching whether the pub you’ve booked for lunch has parking, can help reduce some of the stress that gathers around hosting your parents.
Above all, don’t take their life advice personally. ‘If I was heating something up,’ says Indie about her mum, ‘she’d suggest the best way to do it. I didn’t make too much commentary but explained that this way worked best for us and I’ve found a way that I like.’
‘Talk about how you’re settling in. If you love your new space say so - parents are just trying to be helpful now that you’ve flown the nest but do make it clear that you’ve found your own ways of doing things.’