IMG00583-20110820-1839East Hampton, on the eastern end of Long Island, offers an ideal spot for a family vacation, particularly if you are lucky enough to score a free week at someone else’s beach house. This is where training your kids to be good house guests is so critical.

When my middle daughter was 18 months old (she is now 18 YEARS old and headed off to college) we were offered a house in the Hamptons for two weeks. Sela was a bit of a control freak and had toilet-trained herself at 14 months (I swear!) and when she paraded around Georgica Pond, she attracted the attention of many well-heeled, pushy New Yorkers, staring in disbelief at this toddler with no diapers.

We were house guests of a couple without kids, so she wasn’t showing anyone up, which is considered poor form.

But back to the rules. If you are staying in someone else’s house, your kids must:


Sleep through the night.

Not wet the bed.

Not throw up on a white couch.

Not throw up blueberries. Anywhere.

Not throw up.

Learn to share. If there is one pink noodle in the pool and the daughter of the person paying for the rental wants to hog said noodle, so be it.


Do not Ferberize your kid in someone else’s home. [This actually happened to my brother.]

Bring all the food your kid loves to it. And extra for the hosts’ kids. And the hosts’ kids friends. We once brought a box of an obscure brand of veggie dogs for our youngest daughter and another kid at the house ate them. That was fine, except he wanted more and we ran out. Always bring lots of extras.

Don’t use all the hot water.

Cocktail hour with kids can start at noon. Bring your hosts enough alcohol to help them forget any of your children whining.

When in doubt, change the diaper.

Oh, and in East Hampton, you have to bring your garbage to the dump. If you have a kid, or more, with you, you created most of the garbage. Be a mensch, bring the trash to the dump.