Cheating on your house with your vacation house

mtnrdredux_gwAugust 27, 2014

If you have a vacation home, how do you balance time between the two? Do you summer as a verb?

With summer coming to a close, I am already trying to plan next year. We are seriously considering spending the entire summer at our beachhouse next year, but to do so would require advance planning for kids activities, my consulting work schedule, etc etc., so I'd certainly want to decide by the new year.

We had a lakehouse for years but I was never tempted to stay there all summer (less to do). Also, it was a 2hr drive vs 3.5 hrs, and it was a place we used all year (for skiing). Though we do plan to go to the beachhouse for Thxgiving, NewYears, a few long weekends, it's really most attractive in summer.

I kind of hate leaving our CT house all summer, but, hey, it's really 10 weeks we are talking; I still have 42 weeks to enjoy our CT house.

Our kids friends are not neighborhood friends, and most of them go to camp or summer homes or travel, so it isn't like we are pulling them away from friends (and honestly I value our family time more anyway). They all are required to play sports at their schools, but it does not include a summer commitment. Some of the activities and interests they have here in CT I could probably set up in Maine, too.

Thoughts? Experiences? Commiseration over the end of summer?

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Annie Deighnaugh

Don't know if it helps or not, but DH grew up in the city and his folks had the "farm" here which they used on long weekends, holidays and summers. The women (mother, grandmother, aunt) and DH would stay on "the farm" all summer and DH's dad would commute back to the city for 2-3 days a week and spend the rest of the time here. It worked well for them for many decades. Of course the commute was a lot shorter than yours, but it might be something to consider.

As a result, DH made and stayed very close friends with the neighborhood here. I don't think he's retained any of his city friends as he spent so little time with them out of school...all of his play time was here. Also, as a result, he left the city when he was 18 and never lived there again...he's a real country boy at heart...when he was a young teen, he spent his summers working on a dairy farm, mucking barns, fixing tractors, bottling milk...

Frankly, if I were growing up and had the option, I think I'd be delighted with a summer in ME...

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:44AM
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This is a timely question since I have just returned home from our summer house and am in mourning! We have owned our second home since 2008. It is just 1.5 hours away so we do use it year round but I have been spending most of the summer there with my kids for the past 7 summers. The second home was my husband's dream, not mine, so many summers early on it was a struggle for me to be there, but I now love it. We also just did a substantial remodel and fabulous new kitchen, and I fell in love with SUP this summer, so my heart is literally heavy this morning. I keep closing my eyes to imagine the sailboats on the Nantucket Sound instead of the road work going on outside my house here!

But, to answer your questions, we have found a way to make it work for me to be there all summer. My husband is down Friday evening to Monday morning which works for us, and he takes off many extra days and a week or two each summer. We have found it pretty easy to get the kids into activities, but they do miss their friends. My 11yo in particular. We will have to start asking friends of hers down for a week at a time, I think, as she gets older. The girls have made some friends in our summer location, but not as many as I would like! There are lots of activities for them to do, and I think the change of location is a big positive in their lives overall. It's a chance for all of us to decompress from the school year and re-assess our priorities and life as a family. Very energizing.

It's the visitor part that is the most stressful for me - we have lots of visitors - friends and relatives. As much as I like to see people and share our house, I also like to live my regular life during the summer - yoga, walks, reading, some work, taking care of the kids, making dinner. The balance between that and guests is the hardest for me. The meal planning, linens, towels, cleaning, and "vacation" atmosphere that come with guests make it hard for me to keep my schedule together. After the first two summers I realized that I cannot be on a boat drinking beer and eating Chex Mix and potato chips every afternoon, or having G&T's before dinner every night. My husband loves guests every weekend, but we have compromised and have at least two weekends a month to ourselves and that has reduced the stress on me. We do have houseguests during the week sometimes but I feel like I have more control over those invitations and only take on what I can handle.

I would try a summer at your new place and see what you think. My guess is that you won't turn back!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:45AM
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This is definitely a first world problem. Or maybe a 1% problem. I'm envious! :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 11:23AM
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Gray, I know, and I was keenly aware of that when I posted, and hoped that would not become a focus. But frankly everything on this forum is a "first world problem" --- help me choose my backsplash! --- and many people here have second homes. And where else can I get a variety of opinions?

So, I hope no one finds this post offputting.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 11:48AM
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No, really, it's not offputting to me. We collectively span the spectrum of financial situations - how boring it would be here if we were all in the starter apartment financial situation and hanging sheets for curtains.

It's fun at times to read about the problems (not exactly the right word) that wealth creates.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:08PM
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Oh good, Gray, I didn't read your post that way either.
: )

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:22PM
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We did it for 20 years. Our upstate house was 2 hours away so DH came up every weekend, plus vacation weeks.
I utilized camps, horseback riding etc. we were on water so swimming out boating out if the back door.
I think your kids will enjoy it and really it's up to you if it can work with your scedule.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:26PM
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My experience says to do it while you can, because when your kids get older it will be more difficult if not impossible.

Up until last year, I would spend 5-6 weeks at our summer home with the kids -- or depending on what my kids were actually doing (one summer DS worked for DH, other DS was in school), just with one kid. Last summer my DD was 12 and (1) as a competitive gymnast at a new gym, she was expected to be there almost every day and (2) she was less interested in being with mom 24/7 in a town where she has no social life. If you can find friends for your kids and you in Maine, that will make life easier! My DS had a small group of friends there when he was younger, but DD never found any kids her age to hang around with. And neither did I -- and sometimes I felt a bit isolated even though friends did visit and DH was there part of the time.

This summer we spent less time there than we ever have -- 2.5 weeks plus a couple of long weekends -- and after Labor Day weekend, I have no idea when we're going to get back there. It's harder and harder to get away for weekends as a family just because of the kids' schedules (really I only have one kid's schedule to worry about now, but her gymnastics schedule really takes over our lives).

I just keep reminding myself that the house will be there forever and soon enough we'll have the flexibility to spend a lot more time there. DH is planning to retire by the time DD graduates from HS in 5 years.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:27PM
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Our beach house is about a 5 hour drive for us, so not insignificant. This year, I had to be in our primary location much of the summer, because we were finishing up on the new house. Typically though, we spend about 10 days/2 weeks at a time at the beach, then come home for a few days or a week to check on things and see friends.
The only thing that makes it difficult is when one of the kids has a boy or girlfriend at home; there tends to be some resistance to leaving then :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:33PM
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mtn - is your vacation home in a neighborhood - are there other children nearby - are you near a little town or village - can your children bike to activities in the area - are there sailing classes, tennis courts, rowing, kayaking etc. opportunities - as they get older are there places where they might get a part time job if they want?

We have many friends who summer in various locations along the Jersey shore. The ones with happy kids are the ones who can answer yes to many of the previous questions. Otherwise it seems they're importing friends or running back and forth between the shore and home.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:53PM
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We grew up with a summer lake home and couldn't wait for school to end so we could go for the summer. We went weekends for a month or 2 before school ended and after it started. As we each got into our teens we would have more & more excuses not to go on the weekends. Make the most of it now!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 1:14PM
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TRY IT!!! :)

A very big vote for YES!!! (and serious pea green envy too! :)

Keep us posted ..... and updated with TONS of photos!!! :)

Yep -- give a whole summer change a whirl -- such a complete fun time -- with LOTS of chances to explore the local area. And that's they key to the whole venture ... and two or three months in the summer will certainly do that! :)

If you are near Ogunquit -- do sign up for tickets to the local theater ....

Here is a link that might be useful: Ogunquit Playhouse 2014

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 1:19PM
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Count me in as envious….we have a beach house but because of our kids' sports commitments, we rarely get to go. However, even if we had more opportunity to be down there, I'm not sure we could manage the whole summer w/o my kids becoming bored to a certain extent. Not that there is a problem with that, but the "I'm bored" phrase would grate on my nerves. I think it would only work for us if the kids had various kids coming to stay for some periods of time, or if they were able to make friends there for the summer (hard where we are as it is mostly a transient vacation area w/people renting for a week and leaving). We were only there twice this year - for Memorial Day and then for a week in July. My oldest dd brought a friend, my boys had each other, but my youngest dd did whine a few times about not having anyone to play with. I'm sure that would be the issue if we were there for most of the summer.

But, I long for the days when summer was summer for most kids. Not endless weekends of summer sports tournaments, or kids sent off to various camps around town b/c their parents are both working and need daycare for their older kids. My friend just posted a video montage of her summer and it made me want to take next summer off from sports altogether so that we can actually take some nice vacations (my kids' favorite was a week at a lake in NH where there was NOTHING to do but enjoy the outdoors - fish, swim, kayak, they made up this summer olympics with various games like shooting soda cans with slingshots, paddling across the lake, shuffleboard, etc. Whoever won got $1 to walk down to the tiny little market to buy a candy bar. No TV, no Wifi, etc. They had a blast. But we couldn't find a week that coincided with their sports schedules (they did go to a traditional sleep away camp as that is always the highlight of their summer) to get up to NH this year. But maybe, just maybe, we can take a break next summer and go away for most of it.

I agree with Maire Cate that if you can answer the questions she asks with yes, then I'd say go for it! They won't have that many more years where they can spend their summers this way, so enjoy it now while it lasts!

BTW, are you near Ogonquit? We spent a little time in a town nearby just south of Ogonquit (name is escaping me….) with our kids and they loved it up there. My friend's parents live there year round and had invited us when we were headed to NH. I'd love to summer up there..simply beautiful.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 1:48PM
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DH and I both still work full-time so we use our Cape house on weekends and for one full week in the summer. We rent it out when we are not there. We go every weekend starting this weekend and really enjoy our time there . We love to bike ride, walk the beach, have dinner with friends, family and just hang out. The work is done so it's an easy place to be. It's only 1 hour 45 min. door to door.

Our house up here has been let go a bit, so we are playing catch-up and doing some small projects here and there.

My parents had a second house (NH Lakes Region) and we went every weekend. It was a 3 hour drive, but once there it was paradise. I got to bring friends and also had lots of family and local friends there. I have the fondest memories of those times!

Our children were always involved in competitive sports at a club we belong to in our hometown. They had swim and tennis practice each day, preventing us from going away until the activities were over in August. At that time we rented places on the Cape, the White Mountains or Kennebunkport. I don't think I could have handled a second house, 3 kids and a part-time job, mostly due to all the kids' activities.

Now we all use the house and the timing is just right in so many ways. My house here doesn't mind us cheating on her. She's glad to have a break from all the activity! It's been a very active household for many, many years!

Enjoy your new adventure. You/your children will figure out what works and will adjust accordingly. Let the good times roll!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 2:08PM
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You probably won't get a consensus, but what do the kids say? Do they like the idea of being "away" all summer

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 2:32PM
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When our kids were young in Florida we had a lake house in Alabama near DH's family. I sort of parked there for the summer because the oldest LOVED to wakeboard and wanted to spend every moment on the boat. The younger two went to summer camps in NC for a couple of months so the lake was a good halfway point between home and camps. It worked for several years, until DD reached the championship level in Irish dancing and had to train year 'round for nationals and worlds.

I would say try it if your kids are up for it, as it won't be long until at least one of your children has a commitment that continues through the summer. And you already know what happens when you have too much company....there's no family time, just hosting time, which can be exhausting. You've put so much work into the house that you should spend every possible moment there while you can.

And the fact that you want to be there and "cheat" on your primary home says a lot for the wonderful environment and atmosphere you've created.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 2:51PM
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Ok I totally read that as cheating on your spouse at your vacation house.
I'm laughing so hard right now.

Moral of the story: Be careful speed reading from an iphone. ;)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 3:23PM
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I haven't read all the replies, and your question is not offputting at all. I did read Sue's and totally agree with her that you should do it now while your kids are younger. It will definitely get harder as they get older and more 'attached' to friends and potentially more activities in the summer.

I grew up in a town that was basically a summer town for out of towners. We had a place on the lake as long as I can remember, besides out primary residence, so it was nothing at all for us to spend time there, even though it was minutes away from our house. My parents entertained friends and family there on occasion, but relatively few that I recall that stayed overnight since most were within driving distance. They only occasionally let someone stay there without us there too. We got to invite our own friends who were able to come and stay with us or (when we got older) visit by boat so it was great. We would also spent the summers to go visit one set of grandparents for a couple of weeks in Texas, visit another grandparent and various aunts/uncles/cousins in the country (loved both these trips, btw) and take family vacations to all parts of the country.

I guess what I'm getting to is that you may find yourself taking along friends of your kids eventually for a week or two to give them an outlet for more than just 24/7 family time. Enjoy your summer residence as a family while you can and build those memories with your children. Take at least one summer to do that and adjust from there. Tell the kids your plans and see how it floats. Don't be offended or surprised if it's not 100%.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 4:32PM
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Mtn, you are two thirds of the way to my dream life. I live in NC and always say I would like to live here for spring and fall, coast of Maine in summer and someplace warmer (Mexico?) during January and February. OK, not really two thirds since you mostly live in CT, but you get my point. I agree with others that you should try it next summer if you can work out the schedule and see if it feels right for your family. I have loved watching your progress on all of your projects, but especially the Maine house.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 4:57PM
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I love both my home and my lake home. I don't find myself wanting to spend the entire summer at the lake home. It's a treat to look forward to going there for weekends, long weekends, holiday weeks, etc. I enjoy the anticipation each week which I would lose if I just moved in for the summer. Much as I love all the time spent there during the summer I look forward to the change of seasons and getting back to my "regular life" in the fall so I'm not in mourning about summer lake life coming to an end.

I guess if you're there all the time that would probably help solve your problem of controlling the behavior of unwelcome guests who take over in your absence. Or maybe it would prevent them from coming so much.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 5:50PM
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It could be the newness, but if the kids weren't in school, I think i'd be there at the beachhouse all the time. But I imagine the off season is, in reality, a bit sad... and with a lot closed, etc. Your are lucky you seem to have the perfect balance!

Judy, LOL and thank you! I had a crazy dream once, which was to live a year at a time in different countries. But it was crazy expensive to do with a family where Id want to do it and in the style we'd want! Maybe when we are empty nesters, LOL.

Outside, How interesting to have a lakehouse within minutes of your primary house! I told DH I actually had a 2hr minimum (I wanted it to feel like a I was away). But I guess it depends where you are ... it does sound ideal to entertain.

Polly, I thought I was the only GWaddict who looks at GW on my iphone! I suppose cheating would be easier in one's vacation home, I will have to let you know. I had friend/client from Madrid once who told me that, in Madrid "a Rodriguez" meant a man who was temporarily unencumbered during the summer months while his family was at the beach. ; )

Thanks, KSWL, we do all love it there. Partly we have had unrelentingly perfect weather. Thankfully, I don't think any of my kids are talented enough in anything to train year round. : ) I just make them read. I will have to try to find DD1 a harp teacher in Maine, that could be a challenge. DS's passion is flying and he has already taken lessons there. DD2 is serious about yoga (if you can be such a thing) but that is readily available to.

JoaniePoanie, They never want to come home from Maine, but then when we are in CT they don't want to leave here, either. Their first reaction, when I floated the idea, was "what about friends" but then I pointed out to them that none of their friends were around this summer. Among my kids' friends, kids are not allowed to lie fallow! Most have multiple camps (an academic one, a sport one, and a wild card one) plus family vacations, grandparents to see. We deliberately under schedule them vis a vis their peers.

BonnieAnn, That sounds so lovely! I wish we could be there in September. That will be years from now.

"I long for the days when summer was summer for most kids."
That is exactly my point. Sometimes I get anxious that we should drive our kids a bit more over the summer, but I don't want to. For them or me. We read very night and they have summer work from their schools, too, and I think that is enough for academics. They all dabble in sports and might do a sports camp for a week, but they aren't really into sports (a bit surprising since my DH still plays on 2 ice hockey teams year round, but I was never into team sports). You describe the kind of summer I want my kids to have.
PS Yes, we are.

Teacats, Thanks for your vote! And yes, we've been. In fact I was thinking of sending a kid to camp there. (PS I have pictures but they are from my ipad ... misplaced my camera ... and I think they aren't so good)

MaireCate, We wanted privacy, quiet and a big lot, and with that we sacrificed the cozy beach community that some people seek out. So no kids to play with and not really a neighborhood. But, they can bike or trolley to one of two different communities/beaches and to tennis and golf. So far they love being allowed to roam these villages on their own (as a pack of 3), which is a totally new thing for them.
That said, I have taken my kids the world over and equipped their homes with all manner of diversions, but we too have heard "I'm bored" more than once or twice! I just power through it ... they usually come up with something!

Eandhl, That sounds great. I agree with what you and a lot of others are saying ... now or never.

Jackson, Bummer to miss the summer due to reno! No GF or BF yet, thank goodness. Not looking forward to the sleeping arrangement discussions when that happens! This year, we were up one week, home one week, and travelled only on Wed. to avoid traffic. That did make a kind of crazy schedule to work around!

SueB, You raise an interesting point that I had not considered. That is, me making friends! Hmm. I guess I might be the one to say "I'm booooored", LOL. Thought provoking. Maybe that is the plus side of guests, too!

Ellendi, that sounds idyllic. What memories from those 20 years!

MarinaGal, I am equally bummed that I am missing these beautiful days at the beach. One of the kids's schools started today (grrr), the other is after Labor Day (like it should be!).
Funny you say it was DH's dream and that you like it there better after your new kitchen. Our lakehouse was DH's dream, and he wanted to go more than I did. Moreover, it was new construction and fully done and furnished. I liked it, but it never felt like mine; I learned not to do that again.
This time, the beachhouse is my dream, and the reno makes it very much our home.
I do agree that the change of venue is good for everyone, and I am happy to have the kids host friends here and there. You make an excellent point about the work of hosting. In particular, here in CT I have lots of cooking and cleaning help when we have company. In Maine we do have some help , but find myself making the umpteenth batch of waffles every morning, and my kids say the top two phrases they hear from me are "does anyone have any darks to do" and "Bring down your whites".

Annie, I think it's more clear cut when your primary home is in the city, and you have the city/country dichotomy. If we had a city apartment, I dont think id think twice about getting out of Manhattan, esp in August! As for "the commute", I have a lot of flexibility. I would probably fly or Amtrak to NYC a few times a summer and stay a day or two in the city.

Thanks everyone for your feedback and experiences. We are going to plan for it for next year, and see how it goes!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:54PM
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LOL on polly's post.

I know quite a few people of modest means with vacation homes, even if it's a cottage, small cabin or trailer home at a fishing lake.

If we could figure out how to make it work, we'd do it.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 8:18PM
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Here's one of favorite places in Ogunquit -- great shop and owners AND they have an outside cam!!! :)

We stayed across the street (used to be the Kings Motel BUT is now owned by "The Terrace" Inn (just behind it) ...........


Here is a link that might be useful: Spolied Rotten in Ogunquit -- and a Cam!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 8:32PM
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joaniepoanie made my day!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 9:56PM
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I just saw this article in the NYT about a couple with 4 homes! I would do love to decorate 4 homes, but itd drive me bonkers trying to use them.

Here is a link that might be useful: four houses -- all in Calif!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:54PM
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Mtn, re the BF / GF issue---- we handled that with older two by having one large bedroom and the boys' dorm and another as the girls'.....until one kid was in Birmingham in boarding school within driving distance of the lake house and made a few unauthorized visits.....just FYI.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 6:35AM
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We recently had the sleeping question come up and I was sort of surprised. DS, who just turned 19, had a GF (of 2 years) visit for a weekend at our beach house. She had also visited last year and at that time, she slept in my older DS room because he wasn't there. This year, when DS picked up GF at the train station he texted me "what are the sleeping arrangements?" Well it NEVER occurred to me that they'd expect to sleep in the same room (although if they slept in his room, there are two twin beds). I told him (she'd be sleeping in DD's room) and there was no further discussion but I'm still not sure whether he expected me to let them sleep together.

I have a 22 yo but he doesn't have a GF, nor does he always go to the beach house with us, so it hasn't come up yet with him.

Anyway, carry on.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 7:55AM
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Amen to the 4 homes! It sorta drove my Mother crazy having 2 houses close together. But my Dad was always buying property close by. That was how we always had a lake house in the small town we lived in. TVA (power company) started auctioning off lots on the lake after all the big dam projects, and he started buying. We had one lake house when I was small and then he sold it and built again.

We now have a condo (same lake) and I'm not sure how we'll eventually handle any sleeping arrangements with the grand-kids. Hope we don't have that to worry about and the parents will take care of those issues if they arise.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 10:11AM
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Since it's most attractive in the summer, I say you get your "fill" of it when you can! I can see why you have to make a formal decision, because of the advanced planning involved.

I like the idea, too, of spending a long period of time in it, if for no other reason, because you will be spending the holidays there. I like to be in a familiar place for the holidays, and by spending the summer there, you will be able to continue making it feel like home away from home.

Besides, just because you do it this coming summer, it doesn't mean you have to do it every year if you don't find it works. As others have said, the kids are only getting older, so it makes sense to do this now that you can.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 10:22AM
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::: covering my ears :::

I was 30 and divorced, managing an international business, living in NYC, when I brought my now DH then BF to meet the 'rents. Yup, separate bedrooms. And we weren't even like Mormons or anything!

I have friend who took one look at our IttyBitty Stonehouse and said "when your girls start dating, padlock this".

With guests this summer, my rule is that only independent adults ( ie those supporting themselves ) can share a room.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 10:26AM
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We kind of flip flopped with the sleeping situation. DD dated someone for 2.5 years post college but they lived in separate cities 2 hours from each other (we live 6 hours from her). He came here twice and we put them in separate bedrooms (all of our spare rooms have twins, with one room having a trundle). That was our first experience with a BF/GF staying over so I think we just weren't ready for it yet or maybe because it was DD, not DS...I'm not quite sure.

Later, youngest DS moved to Chicago after college and dated somone for a year, then they moved in together. When they came to visit, it seemed kind of dumb to have them in separate rooms since they were already living together. I set up the trundle but they ended up squishing into a twin....ah young love!

I like your criteria MTN of working adults.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 1:28PM
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Definitely get your kids involved in activities around your summer home. Join the yacht club, which often sound fancier than they are. Encourage them to get summer jobs in Maine, which are good for the soul as well as the pocketbook and a great way to hang out with and get to know other kids.

meanwhile, if your CT house is feeling lonely, I'd be glad to camp out there for the summer and keep it company.

I am lucky to get one week on the Cape each year and this year it is not happening.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 1:40PM
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mtndredux; lucky you, and I hope you shoulder the planning necessary to enjoy your second home as much as you want.

Not much practical help to give -- my summer home as a youth was 2000 miles away in Mexico, so we either flew for short holidays, or drove for the whole summer.

But also, I have to say I'm very impressed with your so comprehensive reply post to all! That must have taken a bit of time! No need to reply to me ;)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 8:52PM
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Yeah, I suppose it's a bit arbitrary, but I feel as though it'd be awfully silly to dictate what an adult can do, and to me an adult is generally someone who pays their own rent!

LOL. I do "anthropomorphize" houses. I will try to look at it the way the poster does above, as a well-deserved rest for the 'ole gal!

Violet, Summer (with family I assume) in Mexico must have been an amazing experience!

PS I do tend to feel that a post deserves a reply, but sometimes,yes, it is work! : )

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 10:50PM
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