Hospitality and Small Children

 I originally wrote this in 2011, and it's more true today than ever.

One HUGE difference from my pre-kids days to my current reality is that entertaining and hosting people can seem like more of a burden than ever before. I used to thrive with company over. I loved tidying up my home, planning a menu, and having a full house of family, friends, you name it. When Lily was born it drastically changed. I had less energy. The house was always a mess. Cooking and baking became more rare. People coming over wasn't as "fun" anymore. 

Lately Brad has been challenging this view. He's obviously sympathetic to my lack of energy, especially with my current pregnancy on top of a 9 month old, but he's also the greatest influence in my life other than God, so when he speaks, I need to consider what he's saying. And I have been (not that I'm always so ready to be corrected, mind you!). He's been encouraging me to show hospitality more, though it's harder than ever. Why? Because it's one of the greatest ways to love people.

Something I've realized through trying to understand to what degree I should be serving others alongside my family in this season is that hospitality is not hosting/entertaining. In my head, the two were inseparable. But they are quite different, and when you get that, you realize that showing hospitality doesn't have to be a burden when you're in a season of difficulty - especially with small children. Entertaining has a heavy emphasis on showing someone a great time, amusing them. There's a lot of pressure there. An entertaining evening usually means a nice meal, planned activities, a pleasant atmosphere (read: clean house!), everyone on their best behavior, etc. Now check out the definitions of hospitality.


1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
I take this to mean that showing hospitality is opening your door and heart to people. Even when the house is messy. Even when you're just ordering pizza. Even when you don't have the perfect evening planned. It's showing generosity and love, usually in your home. That sounds like something I can do, if I so choose. But what it also required is that I choose love and generosity above appearance and "perfection". Would I be as proud to open up my home if I'm not offering a three-course-meal made from scratch? I should be, but in my pride, I'm not. 
Something I'm working on, with Brad's inspiration, and also the inspiration of  this article recently posted online.


  1. Anonymous13.5.11

    Thanks Emily for sharing that. I'm not a mother and I don't have a lot of experience in hosting, but all my childhood I saw my mother doing so much things (cleaning, fancy meals, etc.) to host people in a "perfect" way. I really like your "new version" of hosting. It is so simple! And I'm sure people prefer a friendly and joyful host with an ordinary meal, than a stressful and tired host with a super meal. God bless! :) Catherine

  2. great post!
    My excuse used to be and (still kinda is but not for long) was working 12 hours, esp the week when I work five 12 hour days! God convicted me of that last summer esp re the cleaning and fancy meals!
    One of my favourite blogs recently did a whole series on hospitality

  3. @Catherine thanks for your comment! I always enjoy seeing someone comment for the first time :) I'm grateful to have you as a reader. I was definitely like your mom/ always rushing to make sure everythings perfect instead of enjoying having the chance to show live by welcoming someone into my home. it's stilla temptation but I'm seeing the destructive side to that now and I want to practice true hospitality... Still a work in progress though!

    @Karen me too. Somewhere down the line I became convinced that hospitality meant doing things perfectly in a spotless home, so therefor only do-able when I'm at my best- well-rested, organized, etc. What a lie, eh? Thanks for the blog rec, I've seen that one and she has sone things I like but I find her slightly too conservative. What do you think?

  4. Just listened to a really great sermon by Mark Driscoll that touched on this... "Ministry, Marriage and Mistakes" It was at an Acts 29 boot camp in November 2010 for the pastors and it was really interesting the way he talked about couples in ministry (especially church planters).
    You should take a listen (at the end he brings Grace up to talk too which is always a cool addition to his sermons)

    Im so excited to hear all about how your trip down goes and all that God is going to do while youre there!

    Miss you!

  5. I've actually heard that very sermon! It's so good, you're 100% right!

  6. this has been a challenge for me because so often i just don't feel like it and I don't even have kids yet. I'm motivated to figure it out because Willy enjoys it so much! I often think of a PIper sermon i heard a few years ago that talks about this same idea. He used an example of an old lady in his church who used to use paper plates when company was over and didn't always have "enough" food for all the guests she had, but the company was sweet and the time was special.

  7. Hi Emily, I've been reading your blog since Lily was a baby! I've just started blogging myself and have nominated you for a Liebster award. Look forward to seeing your answers if you ever get the time to do the post (obviously no rush!). Thanks :) http://ourseasidebaby.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/liebster-award.html

  8. It's thought provoking and challenging... I love the comparison there between hosting and entertaining too - they definitely don't have to be one and the same thing!

    Hospitality, as one of the greatest ways to love people... Love it!
    There's a book called the 5 Languages of Love by Gary Chapman that changed the way I think about what love is... He proposes that there are different expressions of love and that each of us have an expression that lays the closest to our heart. If we get caught up in expressing only our own personal preference we can often miss expressing love to those around us in the way that they most need to receive it.
    One of those expressions is quality time, another is serving, another is gifts ...Hospitality certainly has the potential of covering all three of these.

    I wrote a post about Christmas and the 5 love languages last year - here if you're interested :-)

  9. Ricardo Owens23.3.16

    Taking care of kids is definitely a tough part for every parent. But still they perform well in this particular field with their hard work and dedication; otherwise our kids are suffering from bad parenting issues and misguide from their destiny and culture. In case of hosting any program we should first take care of the kids as well as their needs and interest. From here we learn some crucial tips on hospitality and small kids.
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