I partnered with Marcie Fowler this week to bring you these ideas! Marcie is a pastor’s wife and mom of 4 kids living in Kentucky. She is passionate about helping busy women uncomplicate hospitality. You can find more about to simplify hospitality and grab 5 Easy Hosting Recipes for free right here. If you’re on Instagram, make sure you’re following her for continued hospitality tips!
This week on the podcast, I shared an audio Bible study to outline the continued importance of continuing to cultivate meaningful relationship even through the barriers of mothering young children. Today's post is aimed at giving you a launching pad to consider how you might continue to practice hospitality in the face of your real life barriers.
It’s no secret that moms are tired. Just do a simple search on instagram for #parentingmemes or #momlife, and you’ll be flooded with an array of humorous visuals outlining just how overwhelming, illogical, exhilarating, and exhausting this mothering journey is.
But, we’re also lonely. Maternal isolation is one of the most problematic issues for women in the early years of parenting, being a major contributor to maternal mental health issues like postpartum depression and feelings of dissatisfaction with parenting.
This is particularly problematic for Christian mothers who long to parent their children with an eye toward God’s eternal kingdom, with grace and love being the leading atmosphere of our homes. Our mental health is not just about our own sense of well-being and life satisfaction, but it spills over into our mothering and impacts the legacy we long to leave for our kids.
If you’re struggling with maternal mental health, please don’t allow this post to be the only one you read. In particular, head over here or here and find a place to breathe and let your soul rest in the middle of that difficult journey.
But, if you’re a woman who finds herself knowing you need community and supportive relationships, but feel like the barriers that keep you isolated are too great to overcome, this post is the one to stick with.
It’s true that our society is not quite set up in support of moms–especially moms with multiple children. It’s true that it would be easier to have friendships if there were easy ways to overcome the interpersonal and systemic barriers that loom before us.
But I will also tell you that your personal agency and creative capacity is a really great first-line defense against isolation.
Instead of spending our limited resources shaking our fists at the powers that be, let’s lean into getting our creative juices and imagine how we can use our own capacity for hospitality to fight against our own (and others’) maternal isolation.
Before you throw the baby monitor at me for using the word “hospitality,” let me be clear. I am not envisioning bone china, meticulous houses, beautiful trays of carefully crafted charcuterie, or beautiful music playing in the background.
No, the hospitality I speak of is going to come from within you. To exude the Spirit of God by creating spaces and moments where women can come and feel comfortable in their own skin. To feel like they can take their shoes off, let their hair down, and rest a while in the comfort of the presence of a friend.
A meticulous house never did that for me. Genuine love, that does.
As a mom of an 11 month old and a just-2 year old, my house is almost never (read: never) spotless. At any given moment, you can find at least a few dishes in the sink, toys strewn across the living room, and various laundry piles peppered around the common areas of our home.
But recently, I had a friend tell me that she loves coming to my house because it makes her life feel more normal. She realizes that the mess of her own life is not unique to her, but a common fact of life–and that truth gives her soul a little space to exhale.
Now, sometimes our homes do feel just a bit too messy to get it together and have people over, so for this post I partnered with Marcie Fowler to jumpstart your creativity and help you be empowered to cultivate soul hospitality and friendship right in the thick of your tired-mama life.
The following ideas are ways you might practice hospitality, create space for being together, outside of the norm of “having someone over for dinner.” I hope they encourage you! Let me know in the comments which idea you’re going to try this week.
1. Host Outside
Avoid having to clean by inviting guests over for an outdoor meal. You can set up tables and chairs outside, or even just market it as a picnic. Ask friends to bring their favorite outdoor toy for their kiddos, and enjoy a meal with the decor of God’s beautiful creation!
2. Arrange a Park Potluck
Pick a local park in your area that has a covered pavilion, send out a group text, and meet! You can do this for lunch, snack, or dinner–just ask each friend to bring their favorite dish and the grown ups can sit, eat, and chat while the kids run off steam!
3. Think outside of "normal" mealtimes
For many of us in these early years of parenting, major meals are usually juxtaposed with naptimes or bedtimes. For my kids, we go straight from lunch to nap, and straight from dinner to bed. So, it can feel daunting to have my friends over for one of those meals. I like to overcome this barrier by thinking outside of those normal mealtimes. Try having friends over during snack time, or even after bedtime to mitigate the prep-work required.
4. Playdate instead of mealtime
If you have a fun yard (trampoline, slide, playset, etc), grab some mama friends and their kids, some juice boxes and goldfish and meet in your yard. Ask everyone to bring a lawn chair if you don’t have enough, and allow the kids to play while you and your friends chat about how your week is going.
5. Host a game night
This can be done with or without kids. With kids, set up a designated space for kids to play games or watch a movie, and set up a space for the grown up games. Ask everyone to bring an appetizer and have a few games picked out to play. Catchphrase and Gestures are great crowd games. You can also host a game night after your own kids’ bedtimes, and invite your friends over for a kid-free evening.
6. Podcast + Popcorn
Host a podcast party and provide popcorn. Decide what podcast episode to discuss and ask everyone to listen before coming over. I highly recommend the Bible Project Reflections Podcast, or you could even discuss one of the devotional episodes of Motherhood Named and Known. Discuss it over popcorn. (Bailey H. Hurley does this with pizza and calls it a Podcast and Pizza party!)
7. Dessert + Coffee
Invite a friend or two over for coffee and dessert. Make it in between meals, I like doing this at 10 a.m. 2 p.m. or 8 p.m. Feel free to make this even easier by buying a premade dessert at the grocery store. You can get the kids involved by making dessert together using a recipe like this one or this one, and allow the kids to enjoy the treat right along with you. If you’re needing some adult time instead, choose the after-bedtime option, grab your hubby, and meet another couple out at a restaurant for dessert and coffee.