Summer Sanity: Serve

Can I get a show of hands? Who is ready for football and pumpkins and riding boots?

The strong craving for Fall hit me this week. I’d had my fill of summer and began to count the weeks for when the school year would begin. Not so I can ship my kids (my oldest is still only 3) off for the day, but just for the routine of the school year- and yes, of course for the reprieve of the triple digit heat that comes with Autumn.

By this point, most of us have done all of the typical summer stuff with the kids, right? Bubbles, pools, splash pads, popsicles, maybe even s’more roasting (although, we did ours inside). Even with all the running to and fro from summer activity to summer activity, some of us desire the routine of Fall because then there will be more people to be around. Our “regular” people. Not the strangers a few feet from you at the beach, but the people you do life with. Summer can be pretty isolating, especially if you have little ones who can’t be out in the heat for too long. So, at this point in the summer, if you haven’t done so already, it’s a good time to start shifting gears from “what am I going to do with MY kids this week,” to “what are WE going to do with (or for) others.”

Parents of older kids and parents who don’t live with easy access of amenities, I promised you ideas, and this post is where I want to park for a bit.

Like I’ve explained before, these posts are not meant to provide a checklist or even a how to list for your summer planning; they’re meant to be a springboard.

So, here we go… SERVING.

“REALLY, Lindsay? SERVING? Who am I going to serve? I’m already serving my family 24/7. How am I going to serve? Where?” Simmer down, sweetie. I promise, I’m not talking about you taking the kids out for an entire Saturday into a rough neighborhood to build a house. Just step onto the spring board with me; that’s probably not where you’re going to land…

Do you know a new mom? Does she have other kids in addition to her new baby? Serve her with your kids. All together y’all make her dinner and take it to her, or go pick up her child/ren and get them out of the house with you for a bit. Too complicated because you don’t have enough car seats for that? Ok, have her drop her kids off with you AND YOUR KIDS at your house.

Beforehand, tell your kids what you’re doing. “Kids, today we’re going to serve Ms. Stacy by watching her kids Alex and Annie while she takes Baby Andrew to the doctor.”

Don’t know any new moms? What about someone in the elderly population or maybe someone who’s fighting a long-term illness?

If you have older kids who can help with yard work, go over and offer to pull their weeds one morning. Tell your kids what you’re doing. “Kids, today we’re going to serve Mr. Sterling by helping him with some yard work.”

Don’t like those ideas?

Do you live somewhere where your older kids could set up a lemonade or baked goods stand? Have them pick something that has meaning TO THEM and put a sign up that says “100% of proceeds going to ___________.” And put a picture up of exactly who the money is going to. And have them MAKE whatever it is you’re selling. Shoot, if they like to make yarn bracelets, they could make and sell those too. Remember, SPRING BOARD!

Do you want to launch an adult out into the world who is solely self-focused? I mean, we live in a culture that is SELF-focused. I don’t know about you, but I want to be ahead of the messages my kids are going to get from the world. I want for serving others to be a natural discipline. So, every time we serve someone, in any way, I talk to my kids in simple statements like those above. Service does not have to be a huge endeavor. Often we hear the word “service,” and all it connotes is “sacrifice.” I mean, if you’re making dinner already, make double; there you go. For you, yes there’s a little extra time and some extra financial expense there (plus whatever is required for you to deliver that meal to someone), but the blessing that pours out on the new mom who needs that meal is immensely greater than whatever you sacrificed to give it to her.

There’s a Berenstein Bears book we love reading to the kids that lays this ground work very well. Maybe check this book out from your local library (or do like me and order it off Amazon Prime), read it to your kids, and when you’re done, ask them who they could be kind to and how. Take their hand and pull them up onto the springboard with you, bounce and see where you land.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Do you serve with your kids on a regular basis? I’d love to hear about it in the comments?

How to host, like it’s your gift

“Teach me your ways.”

How many times have you said that to someone you know who does something really well? Every time I see a mom in control of 3+ kids, that’s me to that mom, usually on my knees with hands clasped offering to buy her lunch if she’ll just impart a bit of her motherhood wisdom on me. (I kid of course, but really.)

I get the same request often from friends and family about my set of hosting skills.

I think a good portion of how I approach being a hostess comes from my rearing- my parents modeled a welcome-arms approach to our home growing up: anyone was welcome, and everyone was important.

But then I’d say the rest of it mostly stems from my experiences abroad on mission trips, especially the first trip I took when I was 15 to Ecuador.

Our team stayed in a guest house there run by a couple from Canada. We were well trained for this trip and went down with a “you are responsible for your own needs” kind of mindset. So when we were greeted by people who made us breakfast each morning and tended to our linens, it was more than note-worthy. I caught the host-bug then and there. I wanted to provide that same feeling of care and attention for other people when they were out of their home and in mine.

The next several mission trips I took taught me more about what makes a great host and what makes a very poor one. All things I’ve taken to heart in many ways.

Since David and I got married, we’ve tried to always keep the mindset that our home, no matter how big or small it may be, is a gift that we are to be a good steward of. The best way we’ve found to do that (aside from taking good care of it) is to share our home with others.

But how? How do you host people in your home WELL? It’s really not that hard if you keep a few basic things in mind…

Cleanliness. There aren’t many people who are comfortable in dirty spaces, especially if the dirt isn’t their own. Your home, or the spaces that your guests will be in, doesn’t have to be spotless or sparkle, but think of “clean” as your foundation. If it isn’t clean, don’t go trying to cook them a 12 course meal. Clean the house before you do anything else, and then order pizza.

H2O at Home products are my favorite cleaning products and make cleaning quick before company arrives 100% doable- even with kids underfoot.

People eat. Speaking of pizza, be prepared to feed your guests- even if they’re arriving at 2pm in the afternoon. Cheese, fruit, and crackers. Muffins and coffee (my personal favorite). A veggie tray with hummus. They may not eat it, but a good host offers. Also, only offer things you know are good. Don’t experiment with guests. Have a couple go-to recipes and always use those when you have company. And if you’re a terrible cook, order in, or go out. Remember, people NEED to eat.

Choices (and back-ups). I have a laundry list of food intolerances, so I appreciate it when I’m eating over at someone’s home, and I have choices. I also REALLY appreciate it when my host asks me if there is anything I can’t eat before I arrive. Don’t only have one type of milk- have two choices. If your guest is bringing kids- don’t assume they like chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. Today they might, but tomorrow they won’t. You’ll make it easier on that mom and dad by having choices, and back-ups.

The Golden Rule. If you were staying at someone’s house, what things would you like to have available to you? For me, I like to be independent, so I don’t like asking for help, which translates to I don’t want to have to ask my host where something is. My mother-in-law has always been the queen of having spend-the-night guests. Fresh towels (and extra towels) are always in the guest bath along with every kind of sample toiletry you could possibly need and bottles of filtered water. If I forget a toothbrush, I don’t have to go ask for one or send hubby out for a late night errand. Other things people like to have without having to ask for: wifi passwords, a white noise maker or small fan in their bedroom, extra toilet paper stocked in the bathrooms, and knowledge of how to unlock a child-proof-locked potty before they enter said bathroom in the middle of the night (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience).

Attention. Your guest has made an effort to come to your home. Whether it’s for a long weekend or just an afternoon coffee break, they made time for this, make time for them. Don’t answer your phone or respond to a text while they’re over (unless absolutely necessary, of course, or if they’re staying for an extended length of time). Give them your full attention, as much as you can. Often, I’m hosting friends or family and both of my kids will eventually loose interest in every single plaything / book we own and begin running circles around the kitchen table. In those moments, I’ll turn on an educational TV show for them to watch. And because I don’t frequently plug them into electronics, I’m completely OK with turning on the TV for them while I visit with a friend. And my kids are more than OK with it. And my guest gets my attention for 20ish minutes, which is really the whole reason they came over anyway.

Is this a formula for perfect hosting skills? Certainly not. Do I get it right all the time? Nope. But, these are a few of “my ways” that I think speak warmth and welcomeness and comfort and love to people when they’re in my home, and I hope they encourage you to open your home up to others as well.

Do you have the gift of hosting? If so, what is a go-to thing you always make sure you do for guests when you’re expecting company? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

This post does contain affiliate links, but my opinions are always my own. Thank you for clicking through!