Hosting Unexpected Guests (Lessons Learned)

My husband and I love having people over to our house. It isn’t because we are amazing homemakers are that we are amazing chefs. We simply enjoy sharing our lives with others. We are very used to having people in our home and through being foster parents, we have enjoyed having children stay with us until they can be reunited with their families again, which could be weeks to months or even over a year’s worth of time.
That is probably what led us to excitedly take in our dear friends (and their four children) into our home for 2 1/2 weeks while they waited for their house to be finished being built.
And it was a blast! The kids played together and us adults got to know each other even better. We shared many meals together and times of deep conversation.

It is worth every moment, but hosting someone in your home is hard work.  And as you can imagine, hosting a family of six is even more work!

During this time, not everything ran smoothly. I learned many things. For this post, I I am going to share my top 5 lessons:

1. Although, not a must, being organized helps a ton!
I am not the most organized person, but I know that if I leave piles of papers lying around on the counter, mail stacking up, toys everywhere, and beds unmade, it just creates chaos in my mind. A clean, organized room is like a refuge when things are out of routine. Having another family in the home meant having baskets of their items on the counters, new toys laying around, and more unmade beds. Having a home that is clutter-free makes it easier to keep things stress-free and picked up. Then when another family is there, it is more manageable and easier to pick out the items that belong to them, place them in an extra basket just for them, and tidy up.

2. Being prepared for unexpected guests helps when guests come unexpectedly.
During the time that our friends stayed with us, I had been attempting to use up what was in the pantry. For those of you that do this from time to time, you know that it involves much more creativity than a full pantry does. My pantry was so bare when they came that I didn’t have the ingredients that it was going to take to make meals for twice as many people. In my embarrassment, I went grocery shopping and spent well over my budgeted amount and had to go many more times during their stay since I didn’t have a well-planned menu. Being prepared by having extra food or by having freezer meals made and stored, would have made meal times less stressful. This is the same for laundry soap, bathroom essentials, and extra bedding.

3. Protect your morning time.
This is probably the biggest lesson I learned. I noticed I was staying up late, sleeping in the next morning, and then missing my morning routine due to my poor discipline. Protecting your morning time with the Lord is crucial. I was losing my patience more quickly and sliding into survival mode more often. I know that if I had been more protective of that sweet time of quiet in the morning, I would have been more prepared spiritually, mentally, and emotionally for the day. I would have been able to pause to enjoy instead of feeling frantic and constantly putting out fires. I have made that a priority since and have reaped the benefits!

4. Make time for yourself.
I know this sounds like a selfish thing to do, and it would be if your only focus was on yourself, but caring for your needs is important when caring for others. I usually try to fit this time into my nightly routine, but during this time of hosting, I was going days without taking the time to refresh. Because I didn’t take the time to care for my own needs, I was edgy after a few days and it affected the way I handled the day to day conflicts. I would suggest taking extra time to shower and make yourself presentable in the morning and relax in the tub at night. Take time to care for yourself and you will be refreshed and ready to care for your guests with more energy and confidence.

5. Let go of super high expectations.
As soon as our friends arrived, they asked what the rules were. I was startled by that question and totally unprepared. I was touched that they were respectful of how our home operates. Throughout the time they were at my house, there were many times when things started getting out of hand and together we had to reel in the children to keep things manageable. Lowering my expectations helped during this time. Their rules were going to be different than our own. They were going to have their own routine. There was going to be conflicts. Lowering what I expected them to behave like set me free from feeling anxiety and disappointments from them not “meeting my standards”. For example, my family enjoys my cooking very much, but not every family cooks the same or has the same likes and dislikes in this area. I did not expect some of the unpleasant comments towards a certain meal I had prepared and I left the table with hurt feelings, I learned that night that I was placing an expectation on the children to absolutely adore my cooking. Although it was painful and embarrassing, I am so glad I learned this lesson. Accepting your guests as they are, will make the time you serve them more enjoyable and they will feel blessed as well!

Because of the lessons I learned during this time, my husband and I have been discussing ways to do more hosting in the future. We are excited to see how God leads in this area.

I am sure I will be going back to this list to better prepare myself when the day comes when we have the opportunity to host more wonderful unexpected guests!

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