Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Helpful Hints for Showing Hospitality WITH Young Kids

Monday, September 29th, 2014

“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t looking to be impressed. They’re longing to feel like they’re at home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.” –Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine



If you don’t remember anything from this hospitality series, memorize the above quote. The same exact thought rolls around in my mind often, but she communicates it more eloquently than I ever could (which is why she wrote a book and I write on this self-published blog).

I really think that is why so many of us are afraid of hospitality, especially once kids arrive on the scene.  We realize that it’s hard to juggle  time between kids and creating a Pinterest-worthy dinner party, so we settle for nothing.

After I wrote the first post for this series, a good friend of mine reminded me that she wishes her friends with kids would let go of worrying about hoy many toys are put away or baking the best apple pie; she just wants to be with them, to be seen and known.

We all want the same, deep down. But we’re surrounded by sleek images of dinner parties for 15, with decorative name cards, two kinds of glasses, matching plates filled with roasted parsnips and beets, prepared with goat cheese and arugula,  then drizzled with honey, and we think: “If that’s hospitality, I don’t have  time for it.” So we settle for nothing.

Don’t get me wrong: I kinda love a cooking challenge and I like to serve things that are  outside of the box.  There’s nothing wrong with that. But, there have been plenty of times when I’ve served scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls or a big pot of chili.

I’ll tell you another secret.  I have a small house and 4 kids. I don’t have a dining room and we call our fenced-in front yard the bonus room. It can be frustrating at times to have guests over, especially in the winter when we can’t rely on the “bonus room.”

But we’re committed to a life of hospitality with the resources we’ve been given. You probably won’t get filet mignon at my house, and you certainly won’t get name cards, but you will be fed and we hope you’ll laugh (or cry) while you’re here, too.

So, with that in mind, let’s get to the main point: Helpful Hints for Hospitality with Young Children.

#1 Lay a foundation.  Kids, even as young as two,  can help around the house.  Get them started with easy chores while they still think it’s fun. My two-year-old is actually quite proud of himself when he hands me the clean silverware from the dishwasher to be put away in the drawer.

If they start helping now, it becomes part of a normal routine. Then, when the time comes to have people over, they’re already used to helping out.

#2 Keep things accessible. For young kids, it’s important that you keep some things on their level. At our house, we have an entire lower cabinet dedicated to kids’ dishes, cups, snack bowls, etc. That way it’s easy for them to serve themselves, but also to access meal necessities when other kids come over.

#3 Prep, prep, prep. This might be a no-brainer, but do everything you can before your guests arrive. It’s really hard to fuss with cooking as your guests arrive while you’re shouting at your 2-year-old to get out of the trash.

Crock pot meals are great way to prepare in advance. Plus, your house smells good all day long. Often, if I’m making a dessert, too, I’ll make it the day before so I don’t have too much to do in one day.

#4 Let the kids help in the kitchen.  Speaking of dessert, baking is one of the best ways to introduce young children to cooking. They love to  scoop, pour, and sprinkle (with a little help, of course).  You’ll have a little extra clean-up, but again, if you start them early, they’ll think it’s fun, not a burden.

Abby is now at an age where she can make cookies totally on her own, and that’s a sweet reward (literally) as a mom.

#5 Plan ahead. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (C’mon, you know THAT movie.) Sometimes we have the best intentions, but if we don’t put it on the calendar, it won’t happen. Take a few minutes each month to schedule hospitality  into your life. You’ll make somebody else’s day in the process. Don’t you like getting invited over places, especially after you’ve had kids?!

#6 Embrace the chaos. It’s not always pretty. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a Pinterest-worthy dinner party, but serve some grilled cheeses once in a while, too. The most important thing is to have people over (homework: memorize top quote).

Also, if you have kids, chances are you’re having other kids over, too (though I suggest inviting over all different kinds of people in different stages of life). It can be loud and chaotic. I used to dream of having a playroom, one where I  could shut the door and talk to our guests uninterrupted. It never happened. But the guests at some of our most chaotic dinner parties have become some of our best friends.

It just takes time. Hang in there. Don’t settle for nothing.

We have, each one of us, been entrusted with one life, made up of days and hours and minutes.  We’re spending them according to our values, whether or not we admit it.” -Bread and Wine

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Disclaimer: I like Pinterest. I think it’s a great digital filing system. I actually find and file most of my recipes there. Cookbooks are virtually obsolete in my house (that’s another subject). BUt I do think there’s a negative side to Pinterest. It’s so darn pretty that I do think it creates pressure to be extraordinary, when ordinary would be just fine. Glennon Melton from the blog, Momastery,  wrote a GREAT article about this idea called Pinsanity. Read now! It’s hilarious.


// Let me know if you have any more helpful hints to add to this list in the comment below. //


True Confessions

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

True confession: I was kind of dreading this summer. Not even really because of the fiasco that was LAST SUMMER (you can read that happy little story here: Summer’s Revenge).  

It’s just that my kids are getting older now. They have conflicting desires, different friends, and they CAN’T DRIVE. I had visions of spending my entire summer behind the steering wheel, squinting at the sun’s glare through my windshield instead of basking in its glory on a towel next to the pool.

We didn’t sign up for summer camps, either. Not one.  I know. Totally un-American. And maybe even crazy.


But a friend asked me today what I’ve enjoyed most about my summer. I thought about it for a minute (since we haven’t been to the beach yet) and replied: Just being with my kids. What’s even cooler is that is was TRUE.  I didn’t say it because I thought I was supposed to feel that way and I didn’t say it  so she’d think I’m a better mom than I am (there’s plenty of evidence to prove otherwise). I really meant it.

Another true confession: I’m reading Anne Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts.

Erg. That was even harder to admit.

I’ve always prided myself on staying away from ridiculously popular books. For instance, The Purpose Driven Life–never read it. And proud of it. (I may have some soul searching to do.)

The world is divided into two camps: those who love Anne Voskamp’s writing style and those who loathe it. I happen to be in the former category.  I became acquainted with her writing first through her blog. I really enjoyed the few articles I read there, though the persistent piano melody in the background  feels slightly manipulative, like at any moment I’m expected to weep like I’m at a funeral.

Piano music aside, she’s one insightful lady, so I decided to take the plunge and read the book. This week, I’ve been reading little bits of it, in the calm of the morning before the kids wake up. I was particularly struck by the words in her chapter First Flight:

“Never is God’s omnipotence and omniscience diminutive. God is not in need of magnifying by us so small, but the reverse. It’s our lives that are little and we have falsely inflated self, and in thanks we decrease and the world returns right. I say thanks and I swell with him, and I swell the world and He stirs me, joy all afoot.”


I promise there’s a connection between Confession #1 and Confession #2.

Truthfully, there hasn’t been much spectacular about our summer. (Well, except for that trip to Las Vegas for kids aka Great Wolf Lodge. That WAS spectacular, especially because we were with extended family.) But I’ve enjoyed it, anyway, because of  its simplicity. I’ve been thankful just to see their faces each morning without having to rush them out the door. I’ve been thankful to see them jump together into the deep end of the pool. I’ve been thankful and honestly surprised at how well they’ve gotten along, even through the long hours of summer.

So, my falsely inflated self says thanks for these simple things, and the world returns right, because my ego deflates for just a little while, and for a small second I acknowledge His good gifts. You can bet I’ll return to that falsely inflated self, and not relish the goodness of God, and for that time, His grace is bigger.

For right now, I’m thankful to Anne for the reminder to see beauty in the ordinary and then to thank God for it.

And guess what? I haven’t been behind the steering wheel (that much). I might even have a little tan.


(Gotta run. The three olders are beginning to fray at the edges. It’s not all roses. Still hoping to say thanks.)