I unlocked a new level of hosting. Let me tell you what I did.
links + small things
I knew my brother and his family were visiting at the end of May. He and his wife have a two-year-old daughter, so I was kicking around ideas of things we could do that works for kids ages 9 and below. My brother’s family was going to be staying with me, and my parents were planning to drive up to my sister’s house, who also lives in Raleigh, to stay with them.
The whole crew was going to be in town (or as my dad would call it, “the fam-damly”).
There are 7 kids between my brother, sister, and myself, all ranging in age from 7 weeks to 9.5 years old.
I wanted to show a bit of Raleigh to Marc and Jess and make sure to choose places that would work for their two-year-old daughter.
Prior to their visit, a few weeks ago Justin and I took the kids on a quick weekend trip to visit friends in Virginia, near the Shenandoah Valley. In anticipation of that visit, the husband of the family we were going to be spending a lot of time with sent out an itinerary.
Other than trips for work, I’ve never been given an itinerary for a casual weekend trip, and I just have to say that I *loved* it.
Over that weekend, I got to experience how smooth the flow was, how everyone knew what the plan for the day was going to be, how people had the ability to opt out of anything they wanted to, or we could collectively agree to change the schedule due to rain. It was such an efficient way to organize a large group of people for a very short time.
Itineraries are not a mind-blowing life hack, I get it, but it truly never occurred to me to have a flexible plan for when friends or family visited. I was always of the mindset that we would have a leisurely time and just chat about what we wanted to do on any given day. But that doesn’t easily work with larger groups, and the timing of activities can be tough with little kids!
So after the successful weekend in Virginia, I spent a few hours on the ride home making the itinerary for my brother’s visit. I knew their daughter’s schedule for the day, and I knew what my sister would like for Liam, so I put that all together in a shared note.
Everything was open to adjusting, and I asked for feedback from my mom and sister. We changed a few of the meal ideas but otherwise stuck to the itinerary.
I thought it worked so well! Everyone knew what to expect, and when to expect it, so there wasn’t time wasted sitting inside and throwing ideas around to see what we could do.
It was a full weekend, but I wanted to show a few parts of Raleigh to Marc and Jess so they could see a little bit of what our life is like here.
We went to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, Pullen Park, Jack Smith Park, and also spent time swimming in my backyard pool and playing at Lauren’s house. We made pizzas for one of the dinners, and the next night we grilled out and ate dinner on the porch.
We didn’t quite have the warm and sunny weather I was hoping for, but nevertheless, we made the most of it and we were all thoroughly exhausted by Sunday night.
Justin and I have been making a loose plan for our weekends at home ever since we had little kids, and I truly don’t know why it never occurred to me to organize a plan for when friends or family visited. My personality and my kids’ personalities are such that we prefer to have some kind of plan for the day. Even if we don’t go anywhere, as long as we know the layout of what will happen at what part of the day, it allows us to be fully present and enjoy that time.
If you’re hosting at all this summer or simply want to maximize your days off, the time spent thinking through an itinerary will likely pay off in dividends. It sure did for me.