For those of us who consider ourselves extroverts, the last several months have been far from socially fulfilling. As a mom of small children, both my kids and I could really use some more entertainment and hospitality. So recently, I decided I should be the one to get the ball rolling and host a playdate!
First thing to remember, “entertainment” will be provided by your children and the little ones coming to your home. Now you are halfway there! All that is left is hospitality. As you already know, hospitality is far different than entertaining. It is funny, because I do not think I really understood the difference between entertaining and hospitality until about 18 months ago. Hospitality does not need frills. It is really about fellowship. And fellowship involves getting to know one another. What better place for someone to get to know you than in the comfort of your own home.
“I can’t do that. This place is a wreck!” This used to be the first thought that came to mind about having people in my home. I would think about my desire to have social interaction, how I would actually look forward to cleaning up the house, and then realizing how quickly the toys would spread across the room within hours of my tidying. It was overwhelming. But that is just the way things go in a house with little ones, right!?! Always being one to believe I can accomplish more than is realistic, I decided to just commit to gather with friends, and make it happen the best way I could!
Be willing to make the invitation and put it on your calendar! I have found there is a lot of good that comes from just committing. I now have something to look forward to, and I get to tell my children about an upcoming play date where they will make new friends. And, secretly, it gives me a reason to focus on some of the things I have been letting go around the house.
I have only had the honor of being called “mom” for about six years, but one of the most liberating parts is understanding that other mothers know EXACTLY what challenges I am facing and they are not there to judge me. If you approach hosting a play date with this in mind, it is far less intimidating.
I recall a couple visits to friends’ homes that made me realize we can entertain friends and still feel alright with having people over amid our “real life” living environment.
When my first-born was just old enough to interact on play dates, we visited a friend whose two daughters were ages 3 and 5 at the time. On other visits I had with her, the home looked like something out of a magazine. Everything was beautiful and in its place!! This time, I walked into her spacious foyer and past a dining table piled high with freshly washed clothes. Her kitchen island was covered with boxes of dry goods purchased at Costco the evening before, and there were dishes in the sink. It made me feel normal!!
Another experience I had did not even involve kids. It was a meeting of four neighbors to plan an event. During this late morning gathering I arrived to find my friend had taken everything on her kitchen table and shoved it to one end, making space for us to have our meeting. I was a little surprised at first. I have spent years racing around my house the last few minutes before guests appeared, stuffing things under cabinets and into drawers. But it was so freeing to know that she did not mind letting us see her true state of being. She had opened her home, made some coffee, and set out muffins from the grocery store. It was perfect! She was not going to let a few projects the kids were working on stand in the way of us gathering. That is true hospitality!
What stands out most in my mind is neither friend apologized for “a house imperfect”. In fact, neither referenced the areas at all! I loved it, and I decided I should focus more on what matters: fellowship, not the obstacles in the way!
I share all this in hopes that you will not stress before having another family into your home. At the same time, I work best with a deadline and it is often a great motivator for me to tidy up. I think the glory of it all is finding a balance where you are comfortable.
I love having people over! And perhaps I still run around picking up toys in the walkway and moving sofa pillows from the playroom back to the couch. But I no longer put off the opportunity to spend time with others because I do not have everything in perfect order. Enjoy entertaining but stay focused on hospitality. There is a difference!