​This blog post will give you some practical tips to host people in your home even when you have small children. 

In an age of technology and increasing online relationships, practicing the art of hospitality and nurturing face-to-face relationships is more important than ever. Whether you are hosting old friends, or inviting new people, gathering in your home around a good meal is a great way to build relationships. 

Why should I invite people into my home?

You may be thinking, that’s great, but I am a young mother and I have little kids, how in the world can I make this happen? I’m so glad you asked! Honestly, practicing hospitality is maybe MORE important when we have kids because of the example and opportunity it provides them to see hospitality worked out in practical ways. 

It can be awkward and uncomfortable to invite people into your home. Whether you are embarrassed about the size of your house or the color of your countertops, we can all find something to dislike about our homes and keep us from inviting people in. 

I want to encourage you not to wait until you have the perfect home to start practicing hospitality. I’m sure we can all think of examples of people who had gorgeous homes and elaborate menus, but did not communicate love and concern for the people in their homes. In contrast, there are people who have small homes and a simple meal, but offer a warm welcome and a safe place to share your heart and burdens. Which is the more memorable experience to you?

​If we wait to ask people into our homes until the conditions are just right, we most likely will never get there. I have found such joy in asking people into our home, planned or unplanned. These are the guests and relationships that end up bearing the most beautiful fruit. Let’s jump into some more practical how-tos. 

Expectations for hosting when you have young children

Anytime we invite people into our homes we need to hold our expectations loosely and this is no different when we have small children in our homes. I am well acquainted with the desire to have a clean house with a delicious meal on the table when company comes over, but I have learned a few things over the years. 

1. My home is lived in and while it’s ok to want it to be perfect, we are also real people with real lives and that’s not always attainable. 

2. The atmosphere that I create in my home through my attitude toward the condition of my home, THAT is more important. 

3. As a mom with young kids, keeping a spotless home can often make me feel ‘un-relatable’ to other young moms. This not an excuse to not put in the effort, but just something to keep in mind. 

One of the most important things I am learning is that my actions and attitudes are what sets the tone in my home. If I am stressed about the timeliness of the meal or the toys all over the floor, my guests will pick up on that and feel stressed. If I am calm, there will be a spirit of peace in my home. 

I can almost guarantee you that people will remember more about the atmosphere when they visited of your home than the piles of laundry, unswept floor, or even what was served for dinner. 

​Preparing ahead as much as you can

The most important tip I can give you to hosting people in your home is just to plan ahead. As soon as you now that you are planning to have company, start a list on paper or on your phone. Write down things like what you would like to eat, who is bring each dish, and what items you need to purchase from the store. If you can, make some of the food the day before, or early in the day your guests are coming. 

Decide what household tasks are a must and which ones are optional. Lists are great here too. On the morning of your event, focus on the big tasks first and enlist your children to help you power through them. We love to do “blitz pick ups” in our home. We set a timer for 10 minutes and we all blitz around to see how much we can do in those 10 minutes. Something about turning it into a game and competition that makes it fun an enjoyable. 

What are the best meals to eat with guests?

When planning meals for your guests, I like to keep a few things in mind.

1. Do they have any allergies or dietary restrictions? This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when planning your menu and you will want to ask ahead of time. 

2. Do they have young children? Some meals are just plain harder to eat with small kids, so keep this in mind as you prepare. 

3. How much time do I have or want to spend in the kitchen preparing a meal? Some meals can be made up quickly ahead of time while others will take more last-minute preparation. I like to consider who it is that I’m inviting and how well I know them when deciding what I am going to make and how much I will need to be in the kitchen. 

Simple meal ideas for hosting when you have young children

Once you have the answers to these questions, it is time to start planning. If you are brand new to hosting, I suggest planning a meal that you are comfortable making that will appeal to a variety of palates. As you grow in your comfort of hosting, you may want to expand your meal repertoire and try something else. It is always a good idea to have a handful of meal ideas in your head that you can quickly whip up. Here’s a few ideas:

Taco bar is one of my favorite for guests- especially if I don’t know them well. It is something that is easy to customize to particular dietary needs and can easily be kept dairy free and gluten free. Besides that, most people love Mexican.

Meatballs with roasted potatoes and a side veggies is another easy meal to put together and most of it can be done ahead of time. 

Soup and bread is a favorite for wintertime meals. So easy to prepare and its hearty, warm, and comforting. 

Conversation around the table

Whether you feel like you have strong social skills or not, it can be a bit intimidating to invite a new family or friends into your home, especially if you are concerned about what you will talk about.

One of the best ways to prepare for this is to think ahead of time about a couple of questions you could ask. Find out about their current jobs and work experiences. Have they traveled to another country? Where did they grow up? If you are like me your mind can go blank for questions in the moment so having these questions in mind beforehand can be really helpful. 

Another tool that can be helpful in promoting conversation is these Hygge cards. We love to have these sitting on our dinner table to pull out during family dinner or when we need a little conversation help with guests. These are a great idea if you are looking for a fun way to learning new and unexpected things about each other!

Entertaining people with kids

Inviting guests with little children may feel more or less overwhelming depending on if you have your own kids. While on the one hand, having your own children can be a help in entertaining your guest’s children, it can also make things a bit more loud and crazy. I suggest pulling out a few books and toys ahead of time for the children to play with and then when your guests arrive, point the children to the play area. Your own children may be able to play with or even help to watch children of your guests.

If you do not have your own kids, consider picking up a few books or simple toys at a thrift store to have on hand for guests with kiddos. Even a coloring book, crayons, and a page of stickers would keep kiddos busy for awhile. It doesn’t have to take much, but being prepared for children will speak volumes to your guests.

Remember that genuine spirit of hospitality is far more important than the state of your home or the meal that you serve. When you reach out to people with true hospitality, they will feel cared for and loved even by the simple ways you reach out to them. 

Related: Protein: A Mom’s Secret to Energy and Balance; How to Flourish in Motherhood When You Feel Overwhelmed in Motherhood

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