Two weeks ago I posted a Sunday Snippet: Hospitality Begins at Home… and I have been thinking about it ever since… If hospitality begins at home then where does it end? And I think that it is dawning in me that hospitality is not so much about opening your home and more about opening your heart… Being open to hospitality really means being open to both giving and receiving it. And here comes my steepest learning curve ever!!!
While I am happy to have visitors streaming through my home almost constantly I find accepting hospitality extremely difficult – really I do!!! When you have a larger than average family you don’t ever expect to be invited over to visit folk. We travel as a pack, seriously it must be overwhelming to consider!!! When we are invited round I tend to put it off – I really don’t want to impose, and I don’t want to be a burden to others. In fact for folk that aren’t used to making thirty meals a day every day I assume they may well be a little mad to think of asking us over!!! But just as I needed to think about giving the gift of giving, I also need to think about giving others the opportunity to offer us hospitality…
So I am working on accepting hospitality and because of that I am working on a few little behavior tweeks around here to make us just slightly better guests – really it is the least we can do.
- The Last Resort: For yourself, keep in mind that your kids are a lot more flexible than you think they are and ours generally rise to the occasion when they are out. However, we have had our fair share of disasters and keep in mind that most parents have been through that. Sometimes you may just have to call it a day and get your kids home. I find it reassuring to know that if the wheels absolutely come off then we can just say we are terribly sorry and leave – we have never had to, but knowing that we have that “last resort card” in our back pocket gives me the confidence to keep going!!!
- If It Isn’t Yours Don’t Touch It: I know my little girls love visiting their one granny because her bathroom is packed with the cutest soaps and creams and oh my goodness girly heaven… Oh their minimalist mother has clearly failed them!!! They love to go to the bathroom and they vanish for hours to “wash their hands”. It is one thing at grannies house but not at every house!!! And as for gadgets and electronic equipment – stay well away… I can hope!!!
- Table Manners: No matter how starving you are you can not help yourself to food in someone else’s home and when food is offered you don’t behave like a starving refugee. No matter what the homeowner says you may not eat an entire tray of cookies… This might seem obvious but trust me it is a whole new idea for some of us – every time we visit somebody!!! Otherwise offer to help with the meal, it might seem obvious to help at home but when we are visiting it is quite easy to forget that the host is probably not used to cooking a veritable banquet!!!
- You Are There To Socialize: I confess this is much more my problem than my “very outgoing” kids. You can’t just collapse on their couch to read a book or wander off to play with their toys, even though someone else’s things are so much more appealing than your own. Firstly you need to ask to use someone else’s things and secondly when you are visiting you are actually there to socialize.
- Child Proofing: What’s safe in my house isn’t necessarily safe in someone else’s house… I live in terror of keys in bathroom doors (images of children locked in windowless rooms spring to mind)… my kids need to know that they must obey the rules of the home they are visiting. Just like our house-rules keep us safe at home their house rules are there for a reason.
- Our Rules: The rules from home continue to apply when we are out, you still care for your younger siblings, you still make sure that they are safe and happy. You don’t suddenly decide to eat or drink food that you wouldn’t be allowed to have at home. Now I know this might seem obvious, but when a child who only drinks water at home is offered three cans of soda in an afternoon trust me you will wish they had said “No-Thank-You, my parents wouldn’t like that.” Trust me on this!!!
- A Code Word: Now often when you are out and about your kids will do something completely “off the wall” or “out of the bush” and you can’t necessarily say “Hay kiddo, I think you might have just forgotten yourself completely?”… We have an inconspicuous code word that will stop most of my kids in their tracks and make them think a little before they change direction and move on!!! And I know you will ask what’s ours, you will have to find your own one!!!
- An Escape Route: Just because we are out as a family doesn’t mean that my kids don’t go out without me or end up sitting with the kids while we are chatting with the adults. My folks weren’t big on rules, maybe they were but I didn’t notice!!! But there was one thing my mom always said I could use: If I am ever uncomfortable or don’t want to do something that everyone else is doing I can say: “My folks don’t allow that.” Sometimes it is better to be a bit embarrassed and get out of a situation than it is to end up in a situation that you would rather not be in.
And the “Se7en + 1″th thing:
That’s it for now, I know there are more things I could be working on but it’s a start. Hopefully in the school of life I am enabling our kids to be better guests and so allow others to “practice their hospitality.”
This Post was hammered out as part of The Thirty Minute Mom’s Challenge at Steady Mom. The photographs were taken from my flickr pool, so didn’t need load up time.