House Rules

By Doug Mayberry

February 3, 2020 5 min read

Q: We have two grandsons, 8 and 10 years old, and they're both great kids. Unlike many of our friends, we're lucky to live near our family and be part of their childhood memories. Part of that means that they spend a lot of time at our home. But they are so messy! They leave toys and dirty clothes all over and run roughshod over our dog. My husband and I are exhausted by the end whenever they visit. It's a major cleaning endeavor.

My daughter and son-in-law don't seem to realize the problem. They don't have the same problems at home and haven't brought up the subject with their children at all.

We would never have allowed our own children to act that way, but our daughter always avoids playing "bad cop." Our grandchildren simply have no discipline or self-control. It's getting to the point where I don't want to provide the free day care anymore.

What should we do?

A: The bottom line is that what happens in your house is your call.

A reasonable approach is to tell your daughter and son-in-law that you have to set up some house rules and expectations for visits. Make them understand that your age and health give you less energy, and that you have your own needs.

Be clear with your grandkids about your basic rules. A great general one is that you should leave a room in the same condition or better than it was when you entered it.

You can add other rules like helping at mealtimes by setting the table, taking the dishes to the sink or dishwasher, or taking out the trash. If you cook, encourage them to be your sous-chef! Learning the basics will help them in adulthood.

Most kids really want to help and feel like part of the family unit. You may be surprised at how well they respond. Before they're about to leave, do clean-up activities together.

In the end, everyone is a winner when you enjoy spending time together. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter


Q: The coronavirus is all over the news, and just this week the World Health Organization called it a public health emergency. Reading the daily updates is especially worrying to me and others living in my retirement community, as we're part of the demographic most likely to die from it.

Even though it's not widespread in the U.S., there are still cases found in several states.

How can we keep ourselves healthy?

A: We still don't know a lot about the 2019-nCoV coronavirus. Your best bet is to take basic health precautions and avoid panic.

Even though this virus is serious, it is pretty well contained, and there have been no fatalities outside of China, where it originated.

Seniors are at greater risk for two main reasons.

First, older adults tend to have chronic health problems, which leave them more vulnerable to the damage caused by otherwise-survivable illnesses.

Second, seniors' immune systems appear to react more strongly to the coronavirus, which creates excess inflammation. Vineet Menachery, an immunologist who studies the coronavirus at the University of Texas Medical Branch, says that most of the symptoms of coronavirus infections are internally generated from patients' reactions to the virus.

As there's no vaccine for it yet, the best plan is to avoid exposure to this virus. Stay away from places frequented by international travelers.

Remember that seemingly healthy people may be carriers of the virus. We don't yet know if asymptomatic transfer is possible, but those you meet may have minimal or non-obvious symptoms like the sniffles.

Take basic precautions against respiratory illnesses. Practice regular hand-washing with soap and water for about 20 seconds. Avoid close contact with sick people. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Clean and disinfect high-contact surfaces like doorknobs.

As with any problem, do what you can, and don't spend all your time fretting. We can only control so much! — Doug

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Brendacfeyc at Pixabay

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