5 Tips for Surviving Shared Space Over the Holidays

christmas-xmas-christmas-tree-decorationNothing New

The shared space economy is a popular term these days. It really isn’t anything new. Families have participated in the shared space economy for centuries, especially over the holidays. How many of you remember traveling to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Spending holidays with cousins you only saw once a year? Giving up your bedroom so Grandma and Grandpa would have a room when they came to visit?

Great Expectations

We all long for the Norman Rockwell painting holiday. Time together with family, everyone smiling, children learning old family traditions, peace and love prevailing. but with that expectation, come some very real fears. How will my shy toddler deal with all those new people? What will the sleeping arrangements be? Will we have to share a bathroom? How will we manage naps with so much going on? What will happen to the baby’s schedule? Will Uncle Bob smoke in the house, near the children? Will Aunt Judy insist on bringing that nasty dog? Well, you get the picture!

Some Tips for Survival

cookies-christmas-xmas-baking1. Where To Stay

Staying at Grandma’s house can be a great option for all of you depending on the arrangements. If you can have your own room or, better yet, a room for you and a room for the kids, this situation might be ideal. Your family can fully participate in all the festivities of a Christmas at Grandma’s – baking cookies, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts, taking turns with the advent calendar. You could watch “White Christmas” with Grandma and introduce her to the kids’ favorite, “Elf!”! Grandpa can teach them to play cards and the kids can teach him to play video games.

Another great advantage to staying with Grandparents might be if they are willing to babysit so you can go out on a real date. Or Grandpa might take over bedtime stories and Grandma might help with baths and nap time.

But this arrangement isn’t best for every family. You might find it too hard to keep your child on a regular schedule. The space might just be too cramped with your brother and his family there too.

A nearby hotel with some fun amenities to entertain kids like an indoor poor or a game room might give your family the space they need. You might appreciate some separation from family.

25-kid-friendly-vacation-rental-isle-of-palmsAnother very popular option is to rent a vacation home, either just for your family or with another family member to share the costs. Select a home with enough bedrooms and bathrooms to keep everyone comfortable. Maybe look for a house with a bunk room so cousins can camp out together. Of course, Grandma and Grandpa might even want to get in on the deal and look for a larger vacation rental to host the large family gathering. The options are endless.

There are many on line booking sites available. Here are a couple where we advertise that do not charge additional booking fees:



2. Meals

No matter whether you stay at Grandma’s, go to a hotel or rent a vacation home, family meals are part of the holiday experience. Rather than burden one person with all the work of hosting and cooking, the holiday pot luck can be a great alternative. Everyone can pitch in and bring their favorite dish and all the cousins can help with the clean up!

Eating out with a large group can be difficult and requires extra planning. If your family wants to eat out, try to get an idea of budget and food preferences and do some research. It might be better to do carry out! Reservations are a must for groups over 8.

3. Activities

We can easily exhaust ourselves and throw our children into major meltdowns if we don’t allow some space in our busy schedules. Everyone loves babies, but babies don’t love everyone all the time! Try to plan ahead and let family know what activities you can and cannot attend so no one is unexpectedly disappointed. If you can, combine celebrations. Do Christmas while you are home for Thanksgiving. Celebrate Christmas with extended family on Christmas Eve and keep Christmas Day for yourselves. Alternate years with Thanksgiving at one Grandparents’ house and Christmas at the other.

4. Gear

Traveling with small children can require a small trailer just for all the gear they need! Cribs, strollers, baby gates, highchairs, all take up valuable space in the care and just aren’t practical if you are flying. Worse yet are the old leftover cribs and highchairs Grandma might have stored away in the attic that have served generations of children, but just aren’t safe. A great alternative is to find a local baby gear rental company. They will often deliver right to your temporary housing and relieve you of all that stress.

Baby’s Away

Baby Equipment Rental

Remember, staying in other people’s homes, you cannot expect them to baby proof their homes for your short stay. Plan on bringing outlet plus if you need them  and use some creative thinking. Maybe have one room that you can child proof and convince Grandma to put her most valuable Christmas decorations in another room.

5. Schedule Downtimedowntime-over-holidays

While holidays are filled with many fun activities, the constant social gatherings, changes in diet and new scenery can also be stressful. Pencil in some downtime for yourself! Take a walk. Read a book. Listen to music. Soak in a tub. Watch a Hallmark movie. Allow everyone to have some time that isn’t planned.

Make memories…but make them good ones!

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Vacation Rental Home Residential Elevator Operation

Residential elevator with gate open

Residential elevator with gate open

One of the most frequent issues guests have at our vacation home rental is mastering the art of the residential elevator! After countless calls from guests saying the elevator was broken, when in fact the problem was the gate had been left open, I decided to do a short video demonstrating how to use the elevator. Hopefully, this will be helpful to you!
The most important thing to remember is that this is a residential elevator and it runs much more slowly than the commercial elevators in hotels.
This was filmed in the garage area beneath the house since most people initially access the elevator through the garage to take up the luggage and groceries.

Calling the Elevator:

  • Press the call button. Notice the button does NOT turn green. It will turn green once the elevator arrives at the stop.
  • It takes a good 40 seconds for the elevator to come from the top level down to the garage. It seems like a long wait. Be patient!
  • You will see a light shine through the small hole near the top of the door as the elevator approaches.
  • When the elevator arrives the call button turns green and you will hear a tick as the safety latch releases on the door.
  • Next, you must enter your code into keypad. This is the same code you use on the front door and garage stairs entry. If you selected a personal code, that code will only work if you entered it into the elevator door lock, otherwise you will have to use the 10 digit code you were given for your reservation.
  • After you enter your code, press the Schlage button above the keypad. You will hear a little ascending series of notes if your code was entered correctly and the button will flash green. You can now open the door.
  • If your code was not entered correctly, the Schlage button will blink red and you will hear a descending series of notes. Try again, but realize you will only be allowed three trials before the lock will time you out for a few minutes.
    **Please do not push on the door, pull on the door or kick the door in an effort to get it open. It is designed to never open if the elevator is not at that level. If it did open, that would be a huge safety issue.

Be patient! Follow the steps carefully. If the elevator fails to come, go back upstairs, find which level the elevator was left at. Open that door and you will most likely find that the gate is open. 90% of the time, that is the problem.

Residential elevator with gate closed

Residential elevator with gate closed

When all else fails, you can always send someone to ride the elevator down and open it that way rather than using the keypad to unlock it.

Riding the Elevator:

  • Enter the elevator and close the door.
  • Close the gate.
  • Press the button for the desired floor
  • Do not jump in the elevator as it will unbalance the sensors and may cause a malfunction. Again this is much different from a commercial elevator.
  • Be careful that you do not put your hands inside the metal gate to touch the door.
  • Once the elevator comes to a complete stop, you will hear a click and you can open the gate and door and step out.
  • ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATE BEFORE SHUTTING THE DOOR WHEN YOU EXIT THE ELEVATOR. If the gate is not shut, the elevator will not move and you will not be able to call it from another level.

Helpful hints:

I like to send the elevator back down to the garage level so it is ready whenever I need it to bring up groceries or luggage. If you are not using it because of physical limitations, then I would suggest you do that as well. Just push the button 1 before closing the gate and it will go down and stop at the bottom.
If for some reason the elevator stops between levels (This rarely happens if someone was jumps while riding the elevator or if your load is very uneven with excessive weight on one side), do not attempt to fix the elevator yourself. Call Stuart. He knows how to troubleshoot many issue. There is an emergency phone in the elevator in case someone gets stuck inside.
It is a nice feature to have this elevator in our home. With patience, following the correct steps and monitoring children at all times, you can enjoy the use of the elevator for the duration of your stay. Our family mostly uses it for luggage and groceries and it is very helpful!

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