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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Lessons from a full house

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

large multi generational family at Christmas

Between December 18th and 30th our home hosted up to 25 members of our extended family, including 6 young children between the ages of 1 and 5. Thankfully, some live close by and a half dozen stayed in a nearby Airbnb, but many stayed under our roof and shared our 2.5 bathrooms. We cooked, washed dishes, played games, watched movies and bowl games, played with blocks and toys, went on walks in the snow, and visited with the great-grandmas.

What has a house full of company taught our family over the holidays?

Stock up before people show up Two dozen people consume - a lot! So the more you have on hand, the fewer trips you need to make to the store while guests are visiting. Buy in bulk – not just food, but toilet paper, soap, facial tissues and paper towel. Plan ahead – do your meal planning in advance, put casseroles in the freezer, stock up on snacks. Accept help in the kitchen with fixing meals, setting and clearing the table(s), washing dishes and towels.

Be flexible with your expectations Just getting everyone up and dressed and fed can take half the day. When making plans – whether it is an outing or playing a board game - don’t expect everyone in your group to participate in any given activity. Provide choices and options that match varied preferences. Expect some to not join an outing or event for any number of reasons. Expect people to get sick. Expect young children to have melt downs when they get over tired and out of their routine. Go with the flow.

Embrace the chaos Accept that you won’t have a clutter-free house. Extra people mean extra stuff. Do your best to hang up coats and put away toys, but realize that the mess will appear again. Be comfortable with the chaos. When everyone returns home you can soak up the stillness. While the house is full, enjoy the noise.

What does this have to do with our communication projects as nutrition professionals?

Be prepared Make your list and check it twice. Pay attention to both the big picture and the small details. Delegate work and accept help.

Stay flexible Communication is a human activity and humans can be unpredictable. Three-year-olds can have melt downs and get away with it. Professionals need to remain calm, cool, and collected.

Keep positive Roadblocks and challenges are inevitable. When they occur, maintain a positive perspective. How you handle the chaos of life speaks volumes about your character. Be known as a professional with a positive attitude.

We’re already planning ahead for Christmas 2018 – more nieces and nephews have chimed in that they want to join the fun. We’ll be reserving the Airbnb again – that’s for sure!

“Family: We might not have it all together, but together we have it all.” -Unknown

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