You love your mom and dad. The kids love them. They love you and the kids. So why is a holiday grandparents visit so difficult?
Well, for starters, there's that generation gap thing. Even though your mom and dad adore your kids, they're not used to having little ones underfoot anymore.
If you're not around kids much, you forget how much noise they make, how messy they are - and how needy they are. And that often translates to your not feeling totally comfortable in your own parents' home.
Here are 10 tips for making that trip to Grandma's house a little more pleasant this year.
If you have infants or toddlers, you have to have some area that's safe for them to roam.
That doesn't mean grandma and grandpa have to childproof their whole home. But if they could just childproof one room, your little ones have a safe haven in which to play.If not, create a safe play area for the kids in a nearby room. Bring your own portable play yard and the kids' favorite toys and you're good to go.
That said, don't let the kids have run of Grandma's house. Even if she insists it's OK.
Your parents need their privacy. Set down limits on where the kids can and cannot go.
Explain to the children that even though Grandma and Grandpa are family, it's their house and they must behave like guests.
That doesn't mean not have fun but it does mean use their manners. Ask before they get snacks or turn on the TV. And no roughhousing - unless Grandpa starts it, of course.
If you feel comfortable, talk to your mom or dad about what the rules of the house are.
Don't assume that the rules for your kids are the rules you grew up by. People change.
Ask your kids to help out. Just because they aren't home doesn't mean people are going to wait on them hand and foot. Give each of them a couple of things they can do each day to help grandma and grandpa out. But check first.
Grandma may not want Jessica setting the table if she's using her family china. And the kids trying to help grandpa shovel snow may just be getting in the way.
Every now and then give yourself and the parents a break. Take the kids away and let the grandparents have the house to themselves for a while to regroup. They are older than you. They have their routines, so help them keep their sanity, too.
Get the kids to bed early so your parents can enjoy just being with you. You might want to schedule a sitter so you can take them out to a relaxing, grown-up meal.
Pack toys, books and games for the kids. Relax your rules on TV watching.
Keep them quiet and amused. You - and everyone around you and them - will be thankful.
Don't put the kids in losing situations. They're not dolls your mom can put on display for her friends to admire. They can only sit still for so long.
Don't expect them to make it through a long formal dinner. Norman Rockwell was wrong on this one.
They're not his parents. Get him to take the kids to a park so you can enjoy being a daughter again - and actually have time to talk to your family.
If they're his parents, well, return the favor in advance by excusing yourself and the kids for a while so he can get reacquainted as a son. What a concept!