Simple Hospitality // Hosting families with young children
Before we had children there were often times when I wondered about inviting families over to our house for dinner, but then lost my nerve because I was worried about what the children would eat, where they would sit, what they would play with in our tiny flat and that it would be generally stressful. I had no real experience of children and worried it would be a disaster.
Now that we have our own kids I wish I had plucked up the courage and just invited those families. Raising children can be exhausting and lonely, and just because you have increased your family size doesn't mean you suddenly want to be cut off from fellowship and social events!
Having said that hosting families with kids does take a bit more planning so here are some pointers to get you started:
Welcome the children
In my experience if I meet someone I don't know and they make a massive fuss of my children I'll warm to them a lot quicker than if they are ignored. Personally, I'm rubbish at this as I'm not a natural 'child person' but if you try to make an effort to show that you're glad the children are there the whole family will feel more welcome and at ease.
Take a look around the house before your guests arrive, view it through a child's eyes and then move anything that looks like it might get pulled over, smashed or eaten. I can tell you from experience that it is not relaxing as a parent spending the whole time worrying your toddler is going to smash a precious heirloom!
Work to their schedule
Life shouldn't revolve around children, but for parents it often does. Try to fit in with their schedule as much as possible and think about what food you serve, when and where you serve it, where you hang out and where they stay. There is no point serving a hot curry at 8pm on your best dinner plates to a family with toddlers...you need to fit in with them.
If you're not sure of what will work, just ask! You don't have to get it right on your own. The parents will happily fill you in and will probably bring along their own high-chairs, food and bowls/cutlery if asked.
Provide for their needs
Depending on your guests' ages, and whether they are staying with you overnight they will have different needs, but nothing says 'I want you here' more than going the extra mile to provide for them. This could be as simple as putting a teddy on their bed, borrowing (or digging out) some toys and books for them to play with, or setting up a changing station with a mat and wipes.
Travelling with children is never easy so the more you can make it a home from home, the more relaxed your guests will feel.
Be relaxed and understanding
If you are relaxed in your hosting style then it will help your guests feel more welcome. Be prepared for the unexpected with kids (nappy changes during dinner, dropped food and tantrums) and try to let the parents know that it's all completely fine and normal.
I remember one lady taking my screaming baby daughter off for a walk around the house so I could finish my dinner in peace...that is true welcome!
If having a family around to your house just wouldn't work, there are plenty of ways you could still connect with them and provide hospitality. Why not invite them for a picnic at the park or the beach or offer to take them to a local attraction.
Remember it is the love and fellowship you share that is important, not the location!
Want to see more from our Simple Hospitality Series? CLICK HERE or choose from the posts below:
1. Simple Hospitality
2. What is hospitality?
3. Preparing your heart for hospitality
4. How to be ready for guests in 20 minutes or under
5. Things to include in your guest room
6. How to host parents with babies
7. How to host large families (guest post)