It was one of those rare Saturday afternoons, I had no engagement and everything on my to-do-list had been done. I now planned to vegetate in front of the T.V. set and catch up on some mindless viewing.
That was until my husband casually mentioned that his brother and sister-in-law were on their way to our house!
There was not even enough time for me to moan about the disruption to my ‘lazy-afternoon’.
I flew into an instant frenzy, dishing out instructions to the children as we all got busy tidying up the living room and at the same time organizing some refreshments for our expected guests.
“Mum, guests are only around for a short while and we go through so much trouble to make them feel special in our home yet we don’t do as much for our family members who are always with us, why?
That question was asked by my 8year old son as I ordered him to pack up his toys and straighten up the pillows on a couch.
The thoughtful question did make me pause for a while but at that time all I could come up with was a half-hearted comment about why it is important for guests to have a good impression about our family.
I felt like a fraud afterwards.
Isn’t it hypocritical for me to be more concerned about the impression of outsiders whilst being careless about the impression my home life makes on my family members.
That question hasn’t left my mind since the time it was first uttered. I have been pondering over how I can make my children feel like guests in my home.
I do realise that ‘making someone feel like a guest’ has different connotations. On one hand it can imply giving a cool and formal reception to someone, it can also mean creating an atmosphere that makes a person feel special, loved and valued.
It is this latter interpretation of the expression that I’d like to consider in this post.
I would consider some of the things we do to make guests feel welcomed and offer suggestions on how those tips can be adapted for our children’s benefits.
1. We Clean Up Before They Arrive.
Apart from the obvious, welcoming guests into a clean home says to them how much we value them.
Let’s face it, visitors are not fooled by that ‘clean house facade’. We all know that you’ve spent the moments before our arrival scampering to get your house tidy and we are touched that you’ve made the effort for our sakes!
That same grace should be extended to our children. Instead of relying on them to be part of our ‘clean-up brigade’ when guest are coming, it’ll be nice to make an effort to tidy up before they arrive home from school or anyother outing.
Apart from communicating value to them, this gesture would also help them appreciate the importance of maintaining a clean space.
2. We Welcome Them Affectionately.
I remember visiting an acquaintance and being met at the door by her sullen maid who ushered me into the living room where I sat alone for all of twenty minutes before my hostess showed up.
Although the visit was at her invitation, the reception I received on my arrival made me feel unwelcomed and akward. I didn’t enjoy my visit that day.
A great host or hostess should meet their guest at the entrance with a warm smile, a kind word and if possible a warm embrace or a firm handshake.
All these effort would quickly break the ice between guest and host as well as build instant rapport between them. It tell your guests that you are happy to have them around.
I’m usually at home when my children arrive from school and I always make sure that I meet them at the front door with a smile and a hug.
I understand how stressful a day at school can be, my warm welcome is to help ease the day’s stress and usher them into the peace & loving atmosphere of home.
I sometimes do a song and dance if I need to coax a smile out of either of them.
I believe that this shows our children how happy we are to have them around.
If you aren’t around to welcome your children back from school, you can look for other opportunities to practice this style of welcoming them.
3. We Engage Them In Conversation
Convering with someone involves more than speaking and listening.
I sometimes like to think of the act of conversation as a spiritual intercourse between two or more people. It involves the exchange of ideas,thoughts, feelings and creates better understanding between them.
Real conversation involves verbal and non-verbal cues .
When we engage our guests in conversation, we turn towards them, maintain eye contact, we speak in pleasant tones, smile a lot, mirror their posture and gesticulate to show understanding.
Interestingly, not much of our conversations with our children can be described as ‘spiritual intercourse’.
If I am to be honest, I would confess that most of my communication to my kids involves yelling out commands and some subtle threats.
However, I endeavour to carve out time ccasionally to to invest in focused conversation with each child. This is a time that I am attuned to that particular child as we engage in meaningful conversation.
This investment of time is great for building stronger bonds in our relationship with our children as well as help develop their communication skills too.
4. We Anticipate Ther Needs and Try To Meet Those Needs.
When guests come visiting we are highly sensitive to their needs.
We try to supply the things we feel they might need or enjoy.
We cook what they might like to eat, we tune the T.V. to channels that might interest them, we supply toiletries or utensils for their comfort.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to extend this same privilege to our children. We can’t always give in to our children’s wants .
Parenting is about making hard choices and most of the time those choices aren’t going to be popular with our children but we know they are in their best interest.
However, we can ccasionally do things that would make our children feel special.
My daughter still reminisces about the times when we used to celebrate her school awards by having pizza for dinner!.
Pizza was her favourite food and having her family share her special treat with her meant a lot to her at that time.
5. We Set Our Best Utensils Before Them.
From observation and experience, I have noticed that we tend to set out our best utensils for the use of our guests.
As an accomplished hostess, I have a cache of fine dinnerware which I reserve for guests. Sometimes though, the utensils font get used for months on end.
Wouldn’t it be nice to bring out those utensils for use by our family members?
I know that the primary we concern we might have is the risk of breakage and damage from careless handling from our children.
But exposure to using fine dinning utensils is a great way to train our children and get them prepared for a time when they’d need to show those skills in public.
If you have other hospitality tips that can be applied to parenting, please drop them in the comments section. I look forward to reading your comments.