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How to Deal With Unannounced Visits From Family

As a family, your daily routine is crucial to your survival. One small thing can throw the babies sleep routine off, or their eating habits.

Or, let’s say you don’t even have children yet and are planning to become pregnant. Maybe you’re pregnant already. The dynamic of your family’s flow cycle is incredibly important.

When it comes to having a significant other, you’re bound to be presented with…let’s call it…the elephant in the room. Unexpected visits and random drop-in are from family.

How are we to deal with unexpected visits from family – kindly, politely – and without investing too much stress conversations behind the scenes with your partner?

The goal is to have a positive and supportive conversation for each person involved in the situation before it becomes toxic.

What Are the Toxic Feelings We Generate From Unexpected Visits?

First thing’s first, we need to know how we feel inside thoroughly. My belief of having gone through this situation personally is that this is the first and most important step to handling the situation with the least amount of conflict.

couple disagreeing

Once your in-laws, siblings, aunts, or uncles have left from their unexpected visit, it’s your job to reflect, even if as much as you just wish it’d stop and they would take hints.

This should be a purely personal time for you to take into consideration which aspects of the unexpected visits you dislike.

This makes it a lot easier to remove the useless conversations that can indeed lead to conflict in the home behind closed doors. Which is what we are ultimately trying to do in the first place. Less drama the better. 

What Is Your Belief System Behind Proper Visiting Etiquette?

Get a firm grip on your belief system, where you stand, and the most important topics you’d like to speak out loud regarding the unexpected visits to each person directly.

You’ll find that having these conversations with family members takes work, and you have to prepare in a sense what you are bringing to the table.

That way, if anyone says something rude, feels offended, or removes themselves from the conversation entirely. You can feel confident that you have backed yourself up, to have a healthy take regarding the situation.

Research Various Scenarios if You haven’t Already

It turns out if you’re here reading this you are already on the right path. You’re researching and investing your valuable time in the matter. Props to you! Now let’s piece together positive healthy ways for everyone to work through unexpected visits.

Have a Conversation with your Significant Other First

Your partner might feel a whole lot different than you do when it comes to family dropping by unexpectedly. And the last thing you want is for you to be on page 2 while they’re over on page 40. It won’t turn out good for anyone. 

Oftentimes when issues like unexpected drop-ins arise…there have already been conflicting conversations or at least feelings of resentment formed with those around us. We’ll call this the family stew, everyone’s been throwing a few their own seasonings in. They’ve been dropping, you’ve been reacting, maybe you’ve mentioned it to your parent. You might have even already had an outburst regarding the matter outwardly to everyone.

From This Point on Make it Positive Move Forward

No matter where you’re at in the cycle of correcting the issue’s at hand, it’s okay. The fact that you are still supportive of your family members enough to work out a better system proves that you love them and care in itself.

women talking

It’s wise to have a conversation with your partner after you have your own take on the matter. You can say thing’s like; 

“I know that I’ve displayed this kind of reaction or behavior to the circumstance, but, I really would like you to know how you and I each feel about unexpected visits from so-and-so.”

This gives a good introduction to open the situation in a more positive and lighter tone. I know when my husband and I first got married and felt completely different about how my family would frequently drop-in.

He and I felt polar opposite regarding it, and I had no idea he felt so intensely about it until we had an actual conversation about it, better yet, five or more conversations about it.

Once we did though, we stopped arguing over it. We were able to accept and respect how the other person felt and come to a more common ground. After that, we presented it to our family members together.

Be Prepared to Explain your Feelings Slightly In-Depth

If your family feels strongly about it being okay to drop-in anytime, and you haven’t introduced your opposing views to them, They might be totally caught off guard by your opposition.

The tricky piece that we all miss in these situations is being able to step into the other person’s shoes. Some people are raised that it’s okay to drop-in unexpectedly or that your family’s space is just as much your space.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

The person dropping in might not even realize that he or she has thrown a bunch of cayenne pepper into the stew and your feeling the effects of it.

woman thinking

This is why it’s important to understand that it’s more probable no one has intentionally tried to overstep your boundaries and that you just will have to let them know bluntly how you feel.

You have your reasons. They are valid. The more clear you can be with others about these terms, the better. No beating around the bush, go ahead and express what you need to.

Listen to what they have to say about it, and make it about positively working together forward.

It can be hard to explain how you feel to your significant other’s parents or siblings. It’s your partner’s job to help you out here. It makes sense for them to approach the issue even if it’s just over a text.

Have a Common Goal

The goal here is to get the message out in the first place.

You can say something like: “I love that you visit our family so often, but sometimes when you come by unexpectedly, I’m quite busy with other things and would appreciate if you ask us beforehand if it’s a suitable time for visiting.” 

Approach It Before They Drop-In For Their Next Visit

At this point, your visitors have proven that they’ll stop by without notice which probably makes you on edge that they will do it again.

You’re right. They are likely to do it again and continue doing it unless you express your stance on unexpected visiting them.

Key Factor

One key factor in eliminating the issue is speaking up about it. You don’t have to feel bad. Visiting with them for a certain amount of time when it is actually a good time is healthy for everyone involved.

When visits are planned, you can ensure your house is clean, your energy levels are optimal for a visit, or that you aren’t in the middle of personal business in your home.

Take the Time

Take the time to make a phone call, text, or speak-in-person with your visitors when you haven’t been caught off guard with a visit you knew nothing about.

By bringing light to the problem of unexpected visits inflict on your routine, makes it easy for them to digest what you have to say.

Try Saying This If It Continues

If they continue to drop by without notice you can say something along the lines of:

“Hi, it’s good to see you. I thought I made it clear the other day, over the phone that I would really appreciate you giving me a heads-up that you want to visit. I’m right in the middle of dinner. Now isn’t the best time.”

Don’t Drop What You’re Doing to Accommodate Unexpected Guests

The natural course of action for guests invited into your home is to host and accommodate them. This is the fun of having guests come over.

dinner with the mother in law

Well, that’s why it’s just so awkward when it comes to visitors who are uninvited. We don’t want to feel rude for not being a pleasant host, leaving us with a crummy feeling if we don’t drop what we are doing on the spot with offerings to them.

Even though you’ll have the urge to stop watching your movie, put dinner on hold, or wait to put your kids to sleep for the night, it is important that your guests see you aren’t going to just stop in your tracks to visit with them.

Try mentioning kindly to them that you’re always happy to see them, but now isn’t a good time for them to stop by, and you’d wished they had contacted you beforehand for better planning.


There aren’t too many people out there who like to have unexpected visits to their own homes. This does make you wonder why it is so difficult to get past this type of situation when you are offering subtle hints.

It’s possible that it’s due to the heat of the moment that your family feels it’s extremely important to visit you on the spot.

Each person has their own reasons, but it’s likely even those people wouldn’t want random visits to their front door without notice. This issue can be difficult to confront.

It often goes on for far too long, causing unnecessary arguments, bad days, and feelings of guilt for not having open arms at all times to our relatives.

Overcoming this in a healthy constructive manner with all parties involved is important.


Manners Monday: How To Handle Drop-in Guests

Should You Drop Everything for Drop-in Guests?

Carolyn Hax: When I showed up unannounced, my daughter-in-law burst into tears

When the In-laws Drop by Unannounced