You love your mom and dad. The kids love them. They love you and the kids. So why is a holiday grandparents visit so tricky?
Well, for starters, there's that whole generation gap thing. Even though your mom and dad adore your kids, they're probably 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.
These tips can help make the holiday grandparents visit a little more pleasant this year for everyone.
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 house. But if they could just childproof one room, you could at least put little Blake down somewhere.
If not, create a safe play area for the kids in a nearby room. Bring your own portable playpen and the kids' favorite toys, and you're good to go.
That said, do not let the kids have the 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 to have fun, but it does mean they must 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 these days. 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 child a couple of things they can do each day to help grandma and grandpa. But check with them first.
Grandma may not want Jessica setting the table if she's using her best china and crystal. And the kids trying to help grandpa shovel snow may just be getting in the way.
Now and then, give yourself and the grandparents 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.
They love their grandkids, but you're their pride and joy. Plan some adult time together. Get the kids to bed early so your parents can enjoy just being with you.
Pack toys, books, and games for the kids. Relax your rules on TV watching. Keep them quiet and amused. You - and everyone around 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 during this holiday grandparents visit by excusing yourself and the kids for a while so he can get reacquainted as a son. What a concept!