There are times when you might find yourself with friends or family staying under your roof. Depending on the situation, you might be excited and happy about this–and a bit stressed out.

Look, it’s not normal to spend 24 hours a day with someone. Ok, maybe your partner and/or kids, but it’s not normal to suddenly spend every minute with friends and/or family members for days. Instead of being honest about this, politeness gets in the way and can cause visits to go sour. It can seem rude to say that you need time away from your guests/hosts. But for introverts, it’s just how we are! Sometimes, we even need time away from people we adore and like to be around!

Personally, I can think of two family trips that started out as so much fun!! But after four straight days of being together every moment….inevitably, we all started getting grumpy with each other. That’s because we didn’t have enough time to recharge on our own. It made me so sad that such great trips were marred by too much togetherness. I’m determined not to let it happen again. I learned a lot from those trips.

In my experience, 4 days is a good limit for a visit. Any longer than can feel like too long.

So, this post offers some suggestions for:

  • when people are staying with you, and
  • when you’re staying with other people.

Remember, all of these suggestions depend on the individual situation and individual person. Every family/friendship is different! These tips won’t work for everyone.

Tips for: When people are staying at your house

  • Why not explain to guests that you are an introvert who needs alone time? A lot of people understand being an introvert. Even my in-laws, who are super extroverted, have learned over the years that I’m an introvert who needs to hide away sometimes. (Of course, use your judgment–not everyone will understand being an introvert.) Try this: “I get worn out after doing stuff all day, so I sometimes need a few hours to recharge at home.”
  • Before the visit, ask visitors about activities they want to do during the visit. If they say, “We’re fine with anything,” push harder. You can say, “I want to make sure you guys have a great time, so I’d love to know some things you’re interested in doing. I’d hate for you to get here and be bored!” What kind of restaurants do they like/dislike? Which parts of town have they always wanted to visit? Do they enjoy long walks, sports, cultural activities, shopping, watching movies, so on? Give a few suggestions to push them in the right direction. This lets them know that planning is important to you. It also puts a little pressure on them to give you information. Visitors often feel like they “don’t want to be a burden”, so they say they are fine doing “anything”. No! Having suggestions makes planning activities much easier and a leads to a happier experience for everyone.
  • Make your guests feel at home. Show them how to use the TV remote and the coffee maker, for example. If they feel comfortable in your home, they be more self-sufficient and won’t need you for every little thing.
  • Plan activities with set end times.
  • Suggest solo activities for your guests. Example: “I thought you might want to visit the zoo while you’re here. It’s so much fun! I’ve been there a million times, so I wouldn’t be able to join you, but you should really consider checking it out; I think you’d love it.” (As with all of these tips, use your judgment on whether this would be appropriate.) Remember: your guests might be happy to get away from you, too! They might appreciate the chance to do something on their own.
  • Every day during the visit, let your guests know your plans for the day. Maybe at breakfast, you say, “Here’s the plan for today. After breakfast we’ll head to the museum, then get lunch at XYZ restaurant. Then we can come home and just relax for a couple hours to recharge before we go out at night. How does that sound?” If you let them know that downtime is planned, it doesn’t seem like you are sick of them….you are just observing the downtime you planned into your day. (Yes, some guests will just not understand planning downtime…your mileage may vary.)
  • Consider this: your guests might want alone time, too! The older I get (and the older my friends/family get), the more I notice that other people like quiet, alone time.
  • Take a break while your partner/spouse does the social stuff. When my in-laws are at my house, I don’t feel that bad about recharging in my room for a little while if I know my husband is visiting with them. I remember one time–they were all watching a movie on TV in the living room. I just read a book in my bedroom instead. They probably barely noticed I was gone. I emerged when the movie was over and felt refreshed.
  • Before plans are even made, you could suggest that visitors stay at a hotel instead. This, obviously, requires a lot of tact and judgment and the right situation. You might have to offer to pay for the hotel (or use points to redeem free nights.) You might need an excuse–even if it’s a lie. An easy way out would be to say you don’t have space or your extra room is being renovated, etc. etc. I know, I know–most of you are probably rolling your eyes at the impossibility of this suggestion, but in some cases it can work.

Tips for: You are staying at friend’s or family member’s house

  • Stay at a hotel instead. This solves lots of problems. It gives you alone time. I don’t think it’s too tough to come up with excuses for this. You can always blame your spouse, too! (if they are ok with it.) Say they have problems sleeping or something. Be creative. 🙂
  • Tell your hosts some activities you want to do. Like I mentioned in the previous section, this doesn’t make you high maintenance, it makes you helpful because your hosts don’t have to plan everything. Of course you don’t want to suggest a dozen expensive, difficult things–just a few suggestions. Example: “We’d love to check out the XYZ neighborhood, maybe go to the museum and the beach, and eat [local specialty]!” It’s pretty simple–If you tell your host what you want to do, you’re more likely to enjoy your time there!
  • Plan solo activities, if it seems appropriate. If you are going to be with your hosts several days, everyone is probably ok with separating a bit.
  • If you require downtime, don’t be afraid to say it! Saying something like this to your host doesn’t sound too crazy: “I like having some downtime after a long day because I get worn out.” A lot of people understand this. But, if your hosts are the type of people who go-go-go and never seem to get tired, you may have to either suck it up and keep up with them…or explain to them that you just don’t have as much energy as they do. If you TELL them how you feel, they won’t be left wondering what’s going on with you.
  • Opt out of some activities. For example, if everyone is going to party at a club one night, it might be ok if you decide to stay home. “I think I’m gonna skip the club–I’m really tired, and chilling at home tonight sounds nice. But I hope you guys have an awesome time!”

But most importantly, regardless of the situation…

Acknowledge and accept that you are going to be out of your comfort zone.

While friends and family might drive us crazy sometimes, we are lucky to have them; it can be challenging to see that sometimes. Having people who care about you is one of the most important things in life. Try to see the good things and enjoy your time together. You may have to suffer though some discomfort, but you’ll get through it. And it might be more fun than you imagined.