Houseguests Take Note: How Not to Overstay Your Welcome

My parents used to have a pillow with the inscription, “All our guests bring happiness. Some by coming, others by going.” Benjamin Franklin put it more bluntly. “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,” he famously observed. Having people to stay can be a lot of fun. It can also be exhausting. Feeding and entertaining guests coupled with sharing space and disrupted routines takes a toll. Not getting enough rest is a major contributor to host and houseguest stress.

survey of 2000 people found that both guests and hosts lose sleep. The researchers found that hosts lose as much as two and a half hours of sleep per night preparing for the arrival of their guests and guests tend to lose sleep too. Noise, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, and trying to match their sleep schedule make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Regardless of whether they are hosts or guests, more than a third of those surveyed said that the holidays are the most sleepless time of the year.

For anyone who is worried about overstaying their welcome, the survey found that almost 50 percent of people think that spending four days or more is too long. Alas, perhaps Benjamin Franklin was right with the fish metaphor. The good news is that most guests seem to abide by this unspoken rule. Seventy-nine percent say their guests stayed four nights or less.

For the record, I love having houseguests and am delighted when they spend more than four days. Maybe it’s because I only invite people who follow these three rules:

  1. They do their own thing
  2. They clean up after themselves
  3. They recognize that my dogs are the real hosts

I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman