Hey! I’m Sarah Maiers and I hope to be known by loving God like crazy, giving “too much” of myself to others and finding joy in the hardest and smallest of things. I’m passionate about marriage, motherhood, healthy living and simplicity. My favorite person is Chris Maiers and somehow I get to call him my husband. We have two boys, Zion and Malakai, and we hope to fill our home with many more little ones! And yes, of course I love coffee and chocolate.
I’m honored to be here to share a little bit of my heart on hospitality + motherhood. Whenever I’ve finished reading a blog post of Heather’s, I feel capable and excited to open my life and home to others, and I never feel burdened or overwhelmed by her thoughts and ideas. She shares ideas and writes words with such grace and understanding and I want to comment that her life is lived out in the same way! I hope that the words I leave here will do the same for you, that they would be life giving and that by implementing the thoughts and ideas I share I hope it would take you a step closer to serving others with more freedom from expectations!
Hospitality is a way to serve others by opening up our lives and inviting friends, family and strangers in. In order to be hospitable, we need to learn how to create a space that is inviting and welcoming, where people feel safe and able to let their walls down. With that being said, being hospitable is not easy—it requires sacrifice in some area (at least one) whether it be finances, time or letting your own walls down. That’s my most basic explanation of hospitality and there’s a lot of different ways we could talk more in depth on the subject. Check out Heather’s other posts here for some great reads on hospitality.
As a mother, the biggest challenge that I face when inviting other people into my life and my home isn’t how I can serve “the outsiders”—friends, strangers, extended family, but more so how can I continue serving and loving “the insiders”—my own family. This is what I want to talk about today. Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets more focused on what my home looks like or how the food turns out rather than if my husband has been encouraged and/or I’ve gotten down on the floor to play with my toddler and look into my baby’s eyes.
“No, I don’t have time to play with you. Go play by yourself. I need space, watch a show. After I’m done with this, no, after I’m done with this. Maybe later. You are late. I said Roma tomatoes not heirloom!” All things I’m guilty of saying and all things that are withholding love from the people within my home. If I’m working hard to show love by serving my guests at the expense of giving love to my family, I have gotten something wrong. Hospitality does require me to make sacrifices but the sacrifices I make should never be withholding love from other people.
Now I know this has just taken us into a scary zone, it seems close to impossible to be a present wife and mother while creating a (somewhat clean and inviting) place for others to come into. The good news is that both things—being hospitable and being a present wife and mother are both part of God’s design. Why is that good news? Because when we desire to do things God’s way, He makes it possible! 1 Thessalonians 3:12 says: “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.” As we lean into Gods way, He is able to increase our love for all which includes our guests and our family. Yay!
In opening up our home to others there is tremendous opportunity to impact lives beyond the impact that serving brings. On one hand, there is opportunity to teach and show your kids the importance and purpose of hospitality. On the other hand, there is opportunity to show your guests what a healthy, loving home and family looks like. Whether being intentional in these areas or not, the example is being set by your actions and your kids and your guests are picking up on it.
If I spend all of my time focused on cleaning the house and making the food and fluffing the pillows, my kids will begin to think that inviting others in is about what things look like. While the guests are over and if the whole time the kids are shooed away and told to go do their own thing, our guests will begin to think that kids are a distraction. If I invite my kids into the time I spend preparing my heart and home just think of all of the teaching that can happen! While our guests are over and if I am mindful that they are picking up on the interactions between our family members just think of all the teaching that can happen there, too!
Family Remains A Priority
Just because you are hosting people, doesn’t mean you ignore and alienate your children and husband. Remember, the goal is to add people into your family for a few hours, not sacrifice everyone and anything in your family in order to make sure your guests have a good time. You still need to talk to your children about how their day was and let them join in appropriate conversations with your guests. Affirm and encourage your husband in front of your guests. This makes the hosting experience enjoyable for everyone involved!
The last thing you want is for your children and husband to dread every time you tell them that someone is coming over for dinner knowing that they will have to deal with “momzilla” or “wifezilla” for the 24 hours leading up to the guest’s arrival, and then “put on a face” of happiness (knowing that they will be second rate) while your guests are there.
Thoughts and Ideas
I am continually growing in these areas and always learning new tips and ideas for how to invite others into my home while remaining engaged with those in my home. I certainly do not have it all figured out. Here is a small list of things we do in our home that I hope will be easy to duplicate and/or get your mind going on ways you can implement things!
Show and Talk about your guests!
The days leading up to our time with our guests we spend a lot of time mentioning our guests names, praying for them, telling Zion how we met our guests, why they are coming, what we will be eating and doing, what we like about them etc. We Facebook creep our guests and show Zion pictures of our guests, which he really enjoys. It’s fun to watch Zion’s excitement grow as we talk about them with him.
Plan for easier meals, let your kids help.
I know that a lot of the times this adds more time to prep (especially with toddlers) but here is an awesome teaching opportunity! (And the making of future chefs to make delicious food for their parents—ha!) Plan for more time than what it would normally take you. Put toddlers in charge of mixing ingredients or grabbing things from the fridge. There are safety knives you can invest in and preschoolers can begin learning how to chop fruits and veggies. We love to do tacos when we have guests over—we throw meat in the crockpot early that day and then spend 30 minutes prepping the sides.
Carve out intentional time.
I try to allow time for little helpers in the kitchen but sometimes it just isn’t practical and I need to get something done and out of the way. If I know something is going to require more of my time around the house I need to be extra mindful of the type of time I’m spending with Zion in between the busy moments. I’ll give him a heads up, too. “I’m going to play with you for 20 minutes and then I need a little time to get something done.”
Be okay with tidy, not perfect! Use timers.
This is a tip I’ve heard from others that I don’t do the best at implementing (I try!). Instead of panicking and spending the majority of your day trying to vacuum, clean, scrub toilets, do dishes, make meals, pick up toys (the list goes on), set a timer for a realistic amount of time and do what you can within that time. When the timer goes off, you’re done. The place will be tidy enough and the people aren’t coming over to see a clean house, they are coming over to be with you!
This goes with the above point. It doesn’t have to be paper plates but find one or two ways where you can simplify the night. Maybe it’s asking your guests to bring a side or dessert. Maybe it’s ordering out a meal on extra crazy days.
While guests are over make sure to include some things where everyone can get involved! Pray over the meal together. Dance Parties. (This is the best tool/our favorite we’ve found to get everyone of any age together having fun.) Include the kids in conversation.
Build Up Your Husband and your kids.
It’s easy to focus all in on the guests when they are over. Serving food, engaging in conversation, etc. Try to be mindful of the interactions with your people! Grab your kiddos and whisper an “I love you” to them, grab your husband’s hand, affirm and encourage your husband in front of guests. These little moments will confirm for your family that they are still being thought of and that their importance isn’t put on hold when others walk through the door.
I hope this leaves you encouraged and ready to fill up your calendar with more dinner dates and/or weekend guests than you’ve had before! Thanks for taking the time to read! ☺