Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Top 10 Things That Happen When You Have 4 Kids

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

By today’s standards, we have a big family.

We have 4 kids–not very many when you consider the broad scope of human history.  But today, it’s kind of a big deal.


When people find out I’m a mom of 4 (beauties), first they look at me like I have a horn protruding from my forehead, which is  followed by a slightly muffled gasp, which I suppose means: You’re crazy. (Well, we are a little.)

The most common response that people say out loud is: Gosh, I have 2 kids and I can barely handle them!

Yes, parenting is hard. Parenting 2 is hard. Parenting 4 is hard. And, I’m pretty sure parenting 1 is hard, since I was an only child–my mom is raising her arms right now and belting out an AMEN.

But there’s just something different once you get beyond 3 kids. Things get a little tricky.

Here are the Top 10 things that change when you have 4 kids:

10. You cannot fit your whole family into any car that’s remotely cool. It’s minivans all the way–for years. The first time I was ever called Ma’am was in a drive-thru window at Starbucks, a few days after I started driving the MomMobile. Mind you, I was 28 at the time. Sheesh.

9You can no longer fit your family into 1 hotel room. Two double beds and a sleeper sofa just aren’t going to cut it. So go ahead and add that extra room to the budget when you’re making your vacation plans–or not, because…

8. You can no longer fly on airplanes. Well, I guess  some of you could, but for most, 6 plane tickets is equivalent to feeding your 13-year-old son for a month. Dinner wins.

7. Four bedrooms or bust. A 3-bedroom house just won’t work anymore, unless your kids are the same gender and can share bedrooms.

6. You always double a recipe. Always.

5.  If you remember to do something for some of your kids, you’re inevitably forgetting to do something for your other kid(s). 

4.  Your kids will never have matching socks. Ever.

3. Your kids will never, ever agree on what movie to watch. Ok, this probably happens in every family, BUT the more people there are, the more opinionated the room becomes. Just saying.

2. You’ll have a greater chance for heartbreak. The more kids you have, the greater the chance that someone (or two…or three) will break your heart along the way, but…

1. You’ll have a greater chance for JOY.

A wise friend once told me #2 and #1.  I didn’t understand it at the time, because I was just starting to have kids, but now it resonates. There are things my kids do or say sometimes that make me feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. There are things I say to them that I later regret.  That’s heartbreaking. And I’m sure there’s only more of that to come as they get older.

BUT, the JOY multiples with each one. The way they look when they’re sleeping, the times they cheer for one another, the times they win poetry contests and geography bees, the times they laugh, the inside jokes, the times they still say: I Love You.

I get those times x 4.





My Word for 2016: Intentional

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution person.  I hardly ever make resolutions because I know I won’t keep them. I’m not very disciplined, or maybe, I’m taking care of 4 children and have little time for setting goals, let alone keeping them.

But something was nagging me at the end of 2015. I felt like I was constantly reacting to the flurry of the day’s activities–the tyranny of the urgent– rather than planning to meet that  activity-flurry, spinning like a 200 mph tornado, head on.

One day, I remember saying to myself: I’m just not going to clean anymore. I can’t fit it in. Weeks later, I told Duane about my little plan, to which he replied: “Hmmm, that’s interesting.” So, I guess it’s not a good plan?

I also sensed a gentle conviction that planning ahead would actually not just make me feel more in control of the day, but it would be a kind and gracious act for the 5 other people in my house.

The word that kept swirling around in my head was I N T E N T I O N A L. How could I make changes in my home that would leave me feeling less like a flightless bird frantically flapping her wings?



Several areas came to mind as I thought about becoming more intentional in 2016.





(I’m covering F O O D today. Stay tuned for forthcoming posts on the other topics.)

First, food. I really wanted to change the way I approached food. I felt like the lack of  planning in this area resulted in a lot of carb-consuming. When the kids got home from school, I threw out a bowl of pretzels or graham crackers (with a side of fruit…thank you very much), which basically left them still hungry with a carb-coma to boot. I especially noticed it in my 13-year-old boy, who now eats twice as much as everyone else. He needed more.

So, in the last few days of 2015, we only had one child–3 had gone off to greener pastures to spend time with friends and family. It gave me a much-needed breather to actually think through the changes I wanted to make for 2016.

Pinterest became my best friend in the waning days of 2o15. I looked up a ton of recipes for protein-laden snacks, smoothies loaded with greens, and sweets minus the sugar (ahem, we’ll see how that one goes).

I got a NutriBullet for Christmas, which is honestly the best invention since Pinterest. I can make a smoothie in about 30-seconds flat and clean it up in even less time. I bought all the bells and whistles, too, that make smoothies stick to your stomach: protein powder, chia seeds, almond milk, spinach, Greek yogurt.

Y’all, it’s been fun. I look forward to them every day.

Here’s one I made this morning:

Pineapple Banana & Coconut Cream Smoothie (Vegan & GF) from AverieCooks. It was SOooo GOOood.


Source: AverieCooks


I also follow Simple Green Smoothies on Instagram for recipe inspiration.


This is @simplegreensmoothies Strawberry Daiquiri smoothie made with spinach, strawberries, grapefruit, and dates.

Follow @simplegreensmoothies HERE.


Onto after-school snacks.

I’ve already made THESE.


Peanut Butter Banana Smudgies

Source: PopSugar

You pop them in the freezer for an ice-cream sandwich effect, except with healthy stuff in the middle!

Today, I’m also making another freezer treat: Cherry Almond Coconut Protein Balls .


Source: PopSugar

Feel free to check out my Pinterest board, New Year New Food, for more healthy snack ideas.

Even before 2016 started, I started changing the way I make dinner. For the months of November and December, I entered the vast wide-open land that is freezer meal prep. All I can say now is, after  a few wobbly baby steps in this new territory, I’m a believer!

I used 2 different plans from the blog I Am That Lady. Each plan cost about $3 to download and are specifically tailored to shopping at ALDI, although she’s adapted some of her shopping lists for a regular grocery store if ALDI gives you the creeps.

I made approximately 15-20 meals over the course of 2-3 days (you’re supposed to be able to do it in a 5-hour block, but who has that kind of  free time?), and never thought about dinner again for the rest of the month. 

I know some people get together with their friends for prep, so that it’s not so overwhelming. That might be something I try in the New Year as well.

I’m taking a break from freezer meals in January to focus on overhauling all of the food we eat, but I’m kinda sad about it. I’m going to miss the sigh of relief when that moment of internal panic strikes around 5 o’ clock  that screams: You haven’t started dinner yet!

Only the Freezer Meal can quiet that voice.




I’m looking forward to planning some new things this year, things that have never been.

Later this week, I’ll share some more of my thoughts about becoming more intentional about relationships.

Let me know what you’re cooking up, too. I’d love to know.

Oh, and Happy New Year.






Uneven Places

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

I met him half-way to walk him the rest of the way home from school.

Our hands met for a while, then fell, like all of the sudden he remembered that he was nine, and goodness, someone might see him.

We pressed on into the sunshine, carried along by the crisp autumn air–leaves rustling, the sound of acorns crunching under our feet.

Leaves in Grass


He told me about Indian Dance, the piano piece he’s practicing for his keyboarding recital at school. He looked up at me while he talked.  I looked down at his face as I listened, sometimes noticing our feet stepping together on the hard sidewalk that goes home.


He said, “Mom, you know that game: Step on a crack, break your mom’s back?”

“Yes, I do.”

He said, “Well, when I was younger, I never stepped on the cracks because I didn’t want it to be true.”

<Gasp.> “Wow, Stephen. Thank you. That is very sweet.”

He said, with a shrug: “Yeah.”




I’m not sure what we talked about next. My mind was quiet after that, my heart full. Sometimes, it’s the tiniest moments that renew your resolve to parent well.

Over the next few days, I thought about how much I’m in the car, dropping off here and picking up there. I’ve thought about how the older kids go to school a whole 2 hours before the younger two. I’ve lamented over my choppy schedule and daydreamed about a more streamlined one.  Of  course, it’s okay to rearrange and fix and plan to smooth out the rough spots, but on THAT day, the day that we walked home from school together without anyone else, I realized that the uneven places in my day were a gift.



I don’t have to leave  to pick up another child YET AGAIN, I get to.

I get to walk in the sunshine, mind finally quiet for a few minutes, to pick up another child.

Sometimes we run home to see who can get there the fastest. Sometimes I carry his book bag for him. Sometimes he complains about walking home.

And sometimes, he even tells me that he walks over the cracks.




Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Psalm 116:7

The Unlikely Hero of Family Game Time.

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

As my kids get older, it’s getting harder to find an activity that everyone enjoys. Movie tastes are changing, for instance. The older boys want Avengers and the Hobbit, while Abby wants to see Annie and Home. We used to plop them all in front of a screen, and whatever Disney/Pixar film was out at the time was everyone’s favorite.

(And then, there’s Jonathan, whose new favorite movie is CARS, which is “so-ten-years-ago” according to the older kids [funny how I find them glued to the couch next to Jonathan whenever it’s on…hmmm.])

It’s the same with games. Candy Land used to be a crowd-pleaser. Not anymore.  Now, he wants to play Monopoly, she wants to play Clue, and the other one just wants to listen to his iPod (for Pete’s sake).

So, last night when we pulled out a new game for family time, I was skeptical.


Enter Story Cubes. The rescuer. The hero. The redeemer of adolescent family time.

slogan bracelets


You should have seen how fast everyone gathered ’round the coffee table to try it out.

Honestly, I was still skeptical. I thought interest would last for about 5 minutes, but guess what? Wait….for….it.

Everyone loved it, and I mean everyone. Mom, Dad, Adolescent #1 and #2, as well as our 9-year-old (who wishes he was an adolescent,  for the record.) Jonathan even squealed with delight from the confines of his bedroom when he heard us laughing.

The game is actually very simple. There are 9 cubes with pictures on each side of the cube. One player rolls the cubes (like dice) and whatever images the cubes land on are the pictures you use to tell a story. The first player chooses  which image to start with and begins the story with “Once upon a time.” Each successive player chooses the next cube to continue the story, until all 9 images have been used. The key is to tell a story that connects all 9 images.


Warning: when you play with a 9-year-old, there will be countless natural disasters, endless casualties, and fish parachuting  from burning buildings.

Just be prepared.

Here are some delightful one-liners from last night’s edition (paraphrased, because do you expect me to remember them word-for-word? It was almost 9 o’clock.):

“When lightning struck,  the people gained electrical powers.” (9-year-old)

“A giant Scarab beetle attacked all the people down by the river.” (Mass casualties)

” Everyone escaped the burning building, except for the sleeping mailman, but when a bee buzzed by his head, he woke up and parachuted to safety.” (Hero of the story: a bumblebee).


Okay, so these are pretty silly examples, but I honestly loved how the game forced us to work together and use our imagination(s).

AND, you can play it for a short amount of time, or for however long attention spans permit.

I also like that it’s pocket-sized,  so you can take it with you wherever you go–to the park, on a road trip, to a restaurant, etc.

Family Game Time Revived.

        * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

// What are games that your family likes to play together? // 

// If your kids are at different ages and stages, how do you spend time together as a family? //

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below. 








Who Are Those Kids Parents?

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

This week was Spring Break at my house. Despite the stomach-bug-that-won’t-die-in-Asheville that struck two of my children, it’s been rather pleasant. Catching a glimpse of my boys through the garage window sunbathing, shirtless, on top of our minivan wins the award for the standout moment of the week. Who needs Disney World when you can sunbathe on top of a car?

I did what any mom would do as soon as I saw them. I giggled, then I whipped my phone out of my back pocket and captured the moment on Instagram.


Spring Break: Davis style. #whoarethosekidsparents

A photo posted by Julie Davis (@onneutralgrnd) on

My first thought was: That’s hilarious. My second thought was: Someone’s going to drive by and wonder, “Who are those kids parents?

I take ALL the blame.

Duane, shall I say, does not like when they climb on top of the minivan. So, I should have told them to get down, BUT he wasn’t home. And, it was just too darn cute.

When Duane got home, I promptly showed him the photo and remarked: “Aren’t you glad you weren’t home?!”

Duane: {Silence, followed by a  friendly smirk and half an eye roll}

The next morning, I had a Jen Hatmaker moment–which means something really funny happened in my mind, and I took it and ran with it.  I decided to start an Instagram account (of course) named @whoarethosekidsparents with the intent of featuring the silly, cute, and/or zany photos parents take of their children. It’s a little like an ode to childhood.



If you’re on Instagram, I’d love to see your wacky, silly, cute, zany, children on Instagram. Simply tag your photos with #whoarethosekidsparents for a chance to be featured! I can’t wait.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

If you want to find me, I’ll be basking in the sun. Not in the Caribbean, however…on top of the minivan.


a thing of small beauty.

Monday, March 2nd, 2015



My dad cooks scrambled eggs in bacon grease.

As a kid, I never knew what was in that ceramic mug inside the door of the refrigerator, and I didn’t want to. It looked like Crisco, but it wasn’t pearly white like Crisco. It was tan–a soft, unappealing brown–with tiny flecks of burnt bacon paralyzed throughout the lard. I stayed very far away.

/ / / / / / / / / / / /

My dad cooks his eggs low and slow.

Just after the grease melts, the scrambled mix of whites and yolks–no milk–hits the pan with a mild sizzle. Then, my dad waits. He paces just until the eggs start to solidify. He pushes the eggs back and forth, gracefully, with the spatula, until they are creamy, but still underdone. That’s when he adds the cheese–a healthy pile of cheddar or pepper jack. With a couple more turns of the spatula, the eggs are a deep yellow, fluffy, and ready to eat.

/ / / / / / / / / / /

Now I have my own stash of bacon grease in the refrigerator.

I keep it in an aluminum can. I cook my eggs in it, just like my dad.

My 8-year-old has recently taken to making scrambled eggs. Yesterday, he asked me when to put the “corn stuff” in the pan. I was confused since we had gone over the process of making scrambled eggs with him–my dad’s way–and it didn’t involve any corn.(That’s when I realized that the aluminum can that holds the bacon grease is an old Libby’s sweet corn can.)

I took the (corn) can out of the fridge, and we peered down the metal circle together. Sadly, we could see to the bottom; it was nearly empty, with only a few thin smudges left.

I made a passing remark to Stephen: “Oh well, we’ll just cook them in butter.”

“No way”, he said. “We have to cook them in bacon grease.”

(That’s my boy.)

I took out a spoon and scraped the sides of the can, in between ridges, all the way to the flat bottom. I dropped a small mound of grease onto the cold pan. Without celebration, his pavlovian response kicked in and Stephen got to work.

Grease. Eggs. Whisk. Pour. Scramble. Low and Slow.

/ / / / / / / / / / /

My dad ALWAYS cooks breakfast when we visit.

It’s his first question when we stumble downstairs, sleepy, still in pajamas: “Can I make you some eggs and bacon?”

YES. The answer is always YES.

The amazing thing is that my dad doesn’t know how perfect his eggs are and would dismiss the compliment immediately. But, they are famous at my house.

/ / / / / / / / / / /

It’s a thing of small beauty that I cook my eggs exactly like my dad, and now my 8-year-old insists on scrambling eggs the same way–in bacon grease. Even my husband cooks them this way.

Some times we hand things down through our families unaware. And on that morning, when I watched Stephen push eggs across the hot pan, I realized my dad passed down something very ordinary, but strangely beautiful.

He passed down eggs, which is a small thing in itself, but huge because it brings our family together. Those eggs have given us  opportunities to begin our days together, to teach together, to learn together, to cook together, and to be around the table together.

And when my husband makes his world-famous pancakes to go with the scrambled eggs, it’s no small thing, indeed.

How to Cultivate a Love for Reading in Young Children

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

children reading
One of my biggest joys as a parent has been to watch my kids’ reading skills develop.

Last year, Abby participated in the local Battle of the Books competition at her school and her team won first place in the fourth grade across several elementary schools. It was a moment  that beamed with parental pride–the quiet joy of accomplishment.

Now, as I watch my 2-year-old scurry over to my lap with a stack of board books, I wonder where the path of reading will take him….


I realize there is a nature v. nurture element to reading: some of us might not be born-readers. I certainly wasn’t as a child. But, there are things you can do now for your children to nurture their love for reading, even if it’s not part of their nature.

1. Read to them early.  I think I started reading to my kids as soon as it held their attention, probably around 3 months.  Board books with bright colors and short sentences are perfect for the infant and toddler stages.


2. RhymeTime.  Even as an adult, I still love poems and stories that rhyme. When my kids were young, we read Dr. Seuss almost every night. (I think I still have Green Eggs and Ham memorized.)

Not only are rhymes fun to read and hear, but research suggests that rhyming jumpstarts a child’s reading career:

“Because rhyming words – words that have sounds in common – often share spelling sequences in their written form, children sensitive to rhymes are well equipped to develop their reading.”


3. Storytime. Your local library is an amazing resource for children, even at a very young age. Most libraries have story times for babies and young children that incorporate music, story telling, and rhymes. My kids L O V E D story time at the library. I’m thankful that such a fun (and free) activity developed their love for reading at such an early age.


Kids at Library

4. Books as Toys. Leave a basket of board books wherever you keep your children’s toys. That way, the books will catch their eye as much as the shiny, red fire trucks.

5. Develop a nighttime ritual.  Read to your kids every night before they go to bed. It doesn’t have to be anything super long. Reading is a calming activity for children and the sound of your voice will soothe them right before they go to sleep.

6. Books on CD. Once my kids dropped their afternoon nap (the horror!), they still had an hour-long quiet time in their rooms after lunch. When they were old enough to follow along (around age 3), I left books on CD in their rooms. They loved listening for the sound of the beep to turn the page. When they followed along in the book before they could read,  I think it helped them recognize words later on.


7. Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons.


 When you think you’re kids are ready, and only if you want to, you can teach your kids to read on their own with this book. I taught my oldest to read before he started kindergarten, and I swear my daughter learned just by listening along. The lessons are hands-on and only 20 minutes per day. My kids never seemed overwhelmed; in fact, they were eager to do the next day’s lesson.


IMG_4285Happy Reading!

Next week, I’ll post about our favorite books for different age levels.

What are the reading rituals in your family?

Merry Christmas, indeed.

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Davis Fam Christmas Card 2014



Merry Christmas!

I am thankful for this upcoming week–a week of wrapping, gift-giving, too many cookies, singing Christmas songs in the kitchen, comfort food, too many cookies, parties, and friends.

But even more, I’m thankful for a God who constantly surprises me with His grace, even in my sin and weakness.

I was on a desperate search for grace this weekend after several botched parenting moments, weighed down with the guilt of not living up to a standard of kindness I want in myself and in my children.

But grace comes, it always does.

Sometimes I  just have to develop an eye for it…

It came through honest questions about Jesus from my oldest in a late night conversation. It came through a husband who accepts me just as I am ALWAYS.  It came through a Sunday morning sermon. (Listen here.)

2 Corinthians 1:20- “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. “


Since Jesus has fulfilled every one of God’s promises, we now live in the Yes–the YES that God is for us and always at work for our good. All we have to do is receive, to speak the Amen–Let it Be So–because the work is finished.

So, can you and I be set free from a life of regret? YES!

Can you and I forgive and be forgiven? YES!

Can you and I be accepted always, every morning, even in our weak attempts at righteousness, in the middle of our sinfulness? YES!

Jesus has the quintessential “Yes” face. He rejoices over His people with singing and His mercies are new every morning.

I can’t think of a better Christmas present. 

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


Merry Christmas, indeed.



Christmastime is Here.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

I know.

It’s been too long.

Between friends and family in town, Thanksgiving, putting up the tree, decorating the mantle, writing jobs on the side, and a dishwasher breaking, I have not had time to blog.

Honestly, it’s mostly just the dishwasher’s fault. Hand-washing and drying dishes for 6 people leaves little time for anything else. I’m telling you,  if your dishwasher works, do a little dance right now.


In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about Christmas and the little things we do.



Christmas Traditions

I’m not one to start creative traditions, but I’ve come to realize that traditions have been created in our home while I wasn’t looking.

This year the kids demanded eggnog while we decorated the tree, because “that’s what we always do, Mom”. They also insisted we get the tree right after Thanksgiving because that’s what we’ve done for the last 3 years. So, while Sufjan Stevens holiday radio played in the background (I insisted!), with eggnog-sipping in full effect, we bought and decorated the tree just TWO days after Thanksgiving.

Trimming-the-Tree IMG_9498 IMG_9501 IMG_9505


Last year, I bought a miniature stocking chain, numbered 1-25, to hang on the mantle for Advent. So, (theoretically) each day the kids reach in to find a treat and read the Scripture passage for the day. We’re following along with our church’s Advent devotional. It’s a great plan, though we’ve missed a few days, and the Dum-Dum lollipops keep falling out of their assigned stockings.

I’ve also realized in the process that the stocking line over the fireplace really isn’t such a good idea when you actually have to build a fire. Melted chocolate candy everywhere.

Live and learn.





On Christmas morning, we always open presents first (who doesn’t?!) AFTER the coffee is made for the parents. Then, we have Christmas brunch together. They always ask for homemade cinnamon rolls. I’ve been making them since forever.

I also  make a 2-layered fudge–chocolate and butterscotch–during the holidays to give to teachers and friends. The best part about it is that you don’t need a candy thermometer and it comes out smooth and  creamy every time. Check it out here: Foolproof Fudge {without a candy thermometer}.

This year I’m still making fudge, but I think I’m going to try this, too: White Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bark.


sugar cookie bark, Christmas dessert

Looks amazing, right?

Christmas Decorating {on a Budget}

I’m not a major decorator–I don’t even decorate for fall (erg, I feel like I might lose my American citizenship with that confession). But I do decorate a few things for Christmas and I actually enjoy it.

Last year, I made this and I liked it so much, it stayed on the back of my front door ALL. YEAR. LONG. I just removed the fresh  dead greenery last week to spruce it up ( see what I did there…) for  Christmas this year.

Christmas Pinecones 2 - Version 3


Last year I found a great, budget-friendly Christmas decoration at okiobdesigns.blogspot.comI have a few of theses on my mantle and other places in the living room.



My newest addition to the mantle is a gift I just received from a good friend.



And that pretty much sums it up.

And that pretty much sums it up.

The crowning glory (besides the tree) is probably the centerpiece on our kitchen table. I love the two-tiered silver tray, but I NEVER use it. So, I always pull it out at Christmastime, fill it with fresh greens, a few pine cones (store-bought) and a few sprigs of (fake) berries.
I think it’s lovely.



Last, but not least…

Christmas Hymns

I love the traditional  hymns that we all sing each Christmas. My only problem is that I think we should sing them all year long. Seriously, read the words to some of the hymns you’ve been mechanically singing for years; they are rich with the GOSPEL.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found. (Joy to the World)


Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing)

I need to be reminded of these truths everyday. All the time.

So seriously, Joy to the World in July? Who’s in?

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

What are your Christmas traditions?
Are you trying something new this year?
Is Christmas hard for you to celebrate? (It’s not always the most wonderful time of the year.)
I’d love to hear you thoughts in the comments below.



Helpful Hints for Showing Hospitality with Older Kids

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014



It’s hard to believe that most of my kids fit into the “older” category now. And by older, I mean, able to unload the dishwasher without breaking dishes (most of the time), setting the table (without breaking dishes), and clearing the table (well, you know…).

It seem like just  yesterday that I was home alone most Saturdays with my 3 little ones, while Duane was off studying for seminary. Those days were intense, yet I have  many fond memories of chubby, little hands pouring, scooping, and stirring with me.

I don’t think I would have survived our seminary season without the people that stopped by, ate with us, and made us laugh. Plus, when kids are young, they go to bed E A R L Y, so we had ample time to linger with company once the kids were asleep for the night.

Now…not so much. They protest going to bed at 9pm and really don’t want to miss out on the fun. I can’t blame them. They’re becoming their own people now, able to ask adults questions and enter into conversation.

Sometimes I want to shove them off, so I can have a coherent conversation, but in more mature moments, I realize the need to lay down my  desires for the sake of their  participation in our community.

Honestly, I’m grateful that my children are growing up alongside other wise adults and their children. Jesus, have mercy if I’m the only one speaking into their lives.

With that said, let’s get on to some helpful hints for showing hospitality with O L D E R kids.

#1 Spell it out. I’m pretty sure I said this in my first post, but kids do a lot better if you tell them what’s happening for the day before the day starts. Let them know that you’ll need their help at a specific time and for how long.

#2 Assign chores.  Get a feel for what they actually like doing (even though sometimes they just need to do what needs to be done, ya know?).  Aidan often helps Duane out with yard work, while Abby and Stephen prefer to help me in the kitchen.

#3 Set the table properly. There are tons of Google images on  proper place settings. I printed one and kept it on the table every night as a guide until they knew how to set the table appropriately.

#4 Let them participate. If your child likes to cook, let her/ him make one of the side dishes or dessert. If your child is artistic, let her/ him create a menu or design place cards.

#5 Hospitality Manners Check List.  I found this printable and immediately hung it on our refrigerator. I tweaked the title a little, however, from Hospitality is a Virtue to Hospitality is Our Response to Jesus’ Love for Us. (Ok, I get that I’m slightly nerdy.)   Regardless, it’s a great list to teach kids how to treat guests with reminders like:

Always offer to take a guest’s coat or belongings


Always walk a guest to the door when leaving.


Bonus Tip: I just found out today that is beginning a hospitality study for the next two weeks.

I love their response to the following question:

“If all those party planning and design ideas on my Pinterest boards don’t look like true hospitality, then what does?”

In Jesus we see that hospitality begins in the heart.

Yes. Yes. And yes.

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For my next posts in the series, I can’t wait to share  hospitality stories written by friends who’ve  made hospitality a lifestyle, even in the chaos of kids. Stay tuned!