Preparing for Overnight Guests with Children

There may be occasions when you want to open your home to overnight guests who have children. The visitors may be in town for a one-day event like a reunion, wedding or funeral. As host or hostess, your primary goal is to provide them with a comfortable place to sleep and perhaps breakfast. Opening your house to overnight guests does not mean you have to convert your home into a high-end hotel. You can avoid stress by providing simple hospitality.

Sleeping Arrangements

Make the guest bedroom available to the parent(s). A single parent may not mind having a young child stay with them, even in the same bed. In fact, to ease anxiety of staying in a strange house, that may be the preferred method. Include an alarm clock by the bed and a place for luggage, which can be accomplished by placing two armless dinner chairs side-by-side.

If bed space is not available for the children, add a sheet and blankets to the couch to create a bed. Lucky is the homeowner who has a pull-out bed in the form of a sleep sofa. Dining room chairs turned backwards against the side of the couch can help prevent a young child from rolling off. Turning two living room chairs to face one another can also create a bed for a small child. Just make sure that the chairs are blocked or heavy enough not to slide apart. A swimming pool air mattress can also make a nice bed on the floor.

Privately ask the parent if the child is a bed wetter. You can protect your bed or furniture by slitting a large trash bag down the side and across the bottom. Sandwich the bag between a folded sheet to stretch across the bed or furniture. Use another bed sheet to make the bed.

Make Assumptions

Don’t rush out and buy tooth paste and brushes or other toiletries for the guests. The parents will have packed what they felt was necessary. That should include toys or games. Allowing the child to have access to a television or computer, with parental approval, is something you can do. An entertained child is a happy and less noisy child.


For the ultimate guest experience, have activities planned for on the kids. That might include swimming at your home or public pool, renting bikes, or a trip to the mall for older kids. Keep the hands of young children busy with crafts (a search on the internet will yields lots of inexpensive paper crafts, for instance), modeling clay, or baking and decorating cookies. These are all things that the children can take home as a remembrance of a visit with you.


If the visitors will be arriving at meal time, or staying beyond breakfast (as in a single overnight visit), then consult with the parents about dietary restrictions of any family member. Prepare a sit-down or self-service a meal for the first night. Plan to have milk, bread, sandwich meat, peanut butter and jelly, fruit juice and any special needs foods on hand so the parent can prepare meals for their child(ren) on other days.

Suggest a breakfast menu that you can easily prepare, and that may be cold cereal, grapefruit or banana, and coffee or juice. If the parents want something more for any meal, offer to buy it if you have the time to get to the store and can afford it. Otherwise, tell your guests that they are welcome to bring whatever food they want and to use the kitchen. Add that you’d be happy to help cook.


Have a stack of bath towels and wash clothes available. Place a fresh bar of soap in the bathroom, refill the hand soap dispenser, and place extra rolls of toilet tissue out. Provide shampoo and conditioner.


Accept offers made by your guests to help. If no help is offered, ask for assistance, like after a meal say to your guest, “With the two of us cleaning up the kitchen, we will have plenty of time to sit down and chat.”

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