The Hostess with the Mostess: Three tips for entertaining kids at your expat home

Cherrye Moore
  • By Cherrye Moore
  • July 13th, 2010

By: Cherrye Moore

I just wrapped up a five-week trip to my native Texas and as always, I returned to bella Calabria with a load of American goodies, but this time I had a couple of new additions to my pack … two real-life all-American adolescent boys!

Expat Life with Kids

Yep … that’s right.

I came back with not one, but two tag-alongs-my nine-year-old nephew, Cole and my friend’s 14-year-old son, Jake. The idea was born more than a year ago, when Jake’s mom asked if he could visit us for part of a summer to “work at our B&B and practice Italian.”

Now, to be perfectly fair, I believe his mother did, indeed, plan for him to help at the B&B and pick up new Italian phrases, however, even then, I knew “work at our B&B and practice Italian” was 14-year-old kid talk for “go to the beach and check out hot Italian chicks.”

And that he has done.

Happily.

Still, it took us about a week to find our groove and settle into a routine. For other expats who are considering hosting their friends’ children in their adopted countries, here are three tips to help you ease into a routine.

1. Establish Realistic Expectations

My husband and I own a B&B and I’m a full-time freelance writer and travel consultant-so we are a busy work-from-home couple. Other expats have time-consuming jobs or even work more than one job. Many American kids might not be used to this and won’t fully understand the demands of your expat job.

Talk honestly about the amount of free time you’ll have to entertain them BEFORE they come, so you will all be on the same page about day trips, excursions and free time.

2. Set Boundaries

For the most part, homes in southern Italy, and throughout Europe, are much smaller than homes we are accustomed to in the states. Tell the kids who are visiting you if any part of the property is off-limits-such as don’t go the B&B without shoes on!-and be sure they know your house rules, such as “rinse off at the beach before you come home,” or “help yourself to as much gelato as you can handle from the freezer.”

3. Get a Schedule

Depending on how much time your tiny tenants will be with you, you might be tempted to postpone certain events or trips with the thought “there’s plenty of time.”

Time, my friend, has a way of getting away.

Print a calendar of the time you’ll have with the kids and schedule important events in advance. This will also help you look at the days, weeks or months and plan when you can work or take care of important personal errands that can’t wait. It will help you feel less stress about taking time off to be with them and will give them something fun to anticipate.

Have you hosted friends’ or family’s children at your expat home? What other suggestions would you add to help get everyone prepared for an awesome summer vacation the kids will never forget?

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria travel consultant living in Catanzaro, Italy. She writes about expat life on Affordable Calling Cards and about traveling in Calabria on her site, My Bella Vita. You can also visit her at her bed and breakfast in Catanzaro, Il Cedro B&B … and by all means, ignore any and all children you see shoe-less.

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[...] written a bit, both here at ACC and at my website, My Bella Vita about my summer adventures with my nine year old nephew and my [...]

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