The Bible calls us to be hospitable (1 Peter 4:9, Romans 12:13), but when you have young kids, that seems impossible. You’re just trying to keep tiny humans alive. But what if I told you that being hospitable is as simple as just opening the door?
I’ll just come right out and say it: I’m not a hospitable person.
I promise I’m not a jerk. 😉
Hospitality is just not my strong suit. Even before I had kids, it wasn’t something I enjoyed. Having people over makes me nervous. Especially as an introvert, I’m afraid of lags in conversation, a fussy baby, or a ruined dinner.
But that’s not how God has called us to live. Jesus invites us to come as we are, so why can’t we invite people to do the same in our home, even if our little ones are scurrying around at their feet?
Plan a simple get-together
Your friends aren’t expecting a seven-course meal in a five-star restaurant. They’re expecting a nice get-together with friends in their cozy home. It doesn’t have to be fancy. In all honesty, it doesn’t even have to be homemade (or at least not all by you). Here’s some tips to simplify your gathering:
- Have a pot-luck. Let everyone bring their favorite dish to share with others.
- Let everyone make their own. Nobody said you have to do everything on your own. Considering having a taco, potato, or pizza bar as your meal. All you have to provide is the fixin’s!
- Order in. Many restaurants offer full meals for groups, so if cooking stresses you or isn’t possible for any reason, bring a meal in from a restaurant.
- Don’t host a meal. If you’re new to hospitality and you can’t imagine feeding people a whole meal, plan your gathering at a different time. Maybe you can have coffee at 2 PM or a dessert bar in the evening. (Just be clear to your friends about what you will have so that you don’t accidentally starve them!)
Invite other couples with kids
My husband and I host a young adult’s group each month, and one of the couples that comes has a little boy that’s around Selah’s age. When he isn’t there, I feel stressed that Selah’s going to start crying or tear up someone’s Bible or do something else embarrassing to me. I feel like everyone is distracted by her and just watching her.
But when this little friend is there, it’s a whole different ball game. No longer is my child the sole focus. Now there are two little ones running around, and surprisingly, people are actually less distracted by them. It takes the pressure off of me feeling like my child has to be perfect.
If you’re afraid that your kids will act less-than-perfect when you have guests over, considering inviting friends who also have kids. Other parents are more than forgiving of noisy kids, and kids tend to behave better when they have someone else to play with.
Be hospitable in another person’s home
When Caleb and I first got married, we lived in a tiny little rent house that didn’t have central heat and air (and we live in Texas, and it was summer. Bless.). I never invited anyone into our home because I basically hated it.
First off, let me say that our friends would not have cared. Many of them were also newly married and their homes weren’t much fancier. I should have just opened the door.
But if you live in a similar situation, where you can’t invite people over or simply don’t want to, try co-hosting with a friend. Have her open her door, and you cook the meal. You can each invite friends and the gathering will be twice as fun. Don’t let a less-than-ideal home ruin your chances of community.
Lower your expectations
I should have put this one first.
Hear me loud and clear here. Something will probably go wrong. Your breadsticks won’t rise all the way or your guests will be late or you’ll forget to make coffee. The baby will cry as soon as you sit down to eat or you children will forget all their table manners or the chandelier will fall from the ceiling. I don’t know what will go wrong, but something will.
But that’s okay.
You aren’t entertaining these people. You are not the opera or the circus (although you may feel like it). You are their friends. They like you, or else they wouldn’t have come to your house. Feed them and love on them and make them feel special. That’s all they need.
Forget the five-course dinner. Forget the fancy plates and the swan napkins. Bust out the paper plates if you have to. This isn’t about performance, it’s about people.
Just open the door
I was recently given the opportunity to read Jen Schmidt’s new book, Just Open The Door. Hospitality is something that Caleb and I have been trying to practice more often, and I love the premise of just letting people in our homes and lives, not worrying about perfect staging or the ultimate menu. As Jen puts it, we aren’t entertaining people, we’re just inviting them into our lives.
I’ll just come right out and say it: I’m not a hospitable person. · I promise I’m not a jerk. 😉 · Hospitality is not my strong suit. Having people over makes me nervous. Especially as an introvert, I’m afraid of lags in conversation, a fussy baby, or a ruined dinner. · But that’s not how God has called us to live. Jesus invites us to come as we are, so why can’t we invite people to do the same in our home? · I’m so excited to be on the launch team for @jenschmidt_beautyandbedlam’s new book, “Just Open The Door”! Hospitality is something that Caleb and I have been trying to get better at, and I love the premise of just letting people in our homes and lives, not worrying about perfect staging or the ultimate menu. · I’ll be sharing more about this book in the next few weeks, but for now, let me just encourage you: invite someone into your home. Feed them frozen pizza if you have to. Just open the door, let them in, and get to know them. That’s all it takes. ❤ · P.S. Maybe close the door before the baby escapes, though. 😉
Let me encourage you, friend. God calls us to love people as they are, so why do we think we have to make ourselves perfect first?
If you walk into a fancy home with chrome finishes, not one toy on the floor, a perfectly displayed family command center, and children in suits and dresses, do you feel comfortable? Probably not. You probably feel like you don’t fit in, like you aren’t good enough to be there.
But if you walk into a home in the suburbs with a burnt out porch light, a few stray Legos stacked up on the coffee table, little Timmy’s shoes tucked behind the recliner, and a mom with a messy bun, do you feel comfortable? Probably so. You probably feel like these are your people, because you know your home looks very similar.
Your house doesn’t have to look perfect. With little kids around, it won’t, and that’s okay. Open the door anyway. Invite people in, build relationships, and show them the love of Christ. It really is that easy.
How do you practice hospitality while having young kids? What tips would you give to a nervous mama?
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