A reader asked: How much time during the week do you allow for time away from home and/or open your home for things like playdates/hospitality towards other moms. Our church is strong on community and “living life together” and living missionally (which I am totally on board and excited about). However, lately, it feels like we are away from home more mornings than we are home. Those times usually end up with kids in one room playing and moms in another chatting/venting/hopefully encouraging one another. I want my kids to learn the importance of community, but I fear this is encouraging peer-orientation and taking away from my discipleship of my kids. I know I am to be “busy at home” and it just feels like playdates are a good excuse to ignore these duties. Any thoughts/guidelines you use?
If there is one lesson I have learned since the arrival of my third child is that the easiest way to avoid stress and outbursts of anger at my children is to simply stay home. When you consider the work necessary to get four people (including myself) fed, clothed, diapers changed, potty visited, shoes tied, and coats buttoned, I am rather worn out.
Could our time be better invested by simply staying home?
There is true joy to be found in simply being at home. We do experience a lot pressure in our culture to get out and do things in order to supposedly stay sane. It could be a pull to many good things, like much needed fellowship with other woman. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it is very important to be in fellowship with other believers (Hebrews 13:3). But you don’t have to go to the latest play group or gym class for your child to develop socially. You don’t have to go to every storytime or sing-along for your child to love books and be exposed to the wonders of music. You don’t have to go to every moms group to stay connected in community with others. “Ballet classes for 3 year olds are glorified playgrounds,” as one friend so aptly put it. You can do it right from your own living room. There is a balance that we must come through by prayer and seeking the counsel of our husbands.
When it comes to our family, we follow one basic weekly guideline we shoot for – one morning/afternoon outing per week. There may be an occasional reason requiring us to go out again, but this is the most common plan. This might be a playdate with another family, a field trip to our local children’s museum, or storytime at the local library. We believe strongly in the importance of community, so we host a small group within our home on a weekly basis where we share and live life together and challenge on another in missional living. The girls in our small group get together on a monthly basis over coffee or have a night in the hot tub for focused fellowship. We also participate in a monthly Bible study together digging into a book of the Bible. We love it! These things are manageable.
As far as hospitality goes, we usually open our home 1-2 times per month for general hospitality to families in our church or neighboring community. We have the freedom also to call one another as needed. I try to restrict phone calls to nap times so as not to detract me from my kiddos. But this can be an easy way to connect with others, to share needs, encourage one another, and pray without even leaving my home.
I’ve found that if I try to pack up multiple times per week and go somewhere with my kids, my homemaking certainly does suffer. My children ultimately suffer too. They love routine, regular nap periods, reading time together, and such. When we are constantly on the go, they are far more inclined to get grumpy and very needy. They lack Mommy’s focused attention. It’s nearly impossible to work on heart training when you are out and about as well. For the peace and growth of our family we need to be at home together.
There have been multiple times where I sat nursing my baby, untying a knotted shoe, and searching for directions to our destination all at the same time, while reminding one child (for the third time, I dare say) to find his coat, and the other to go to the bathroom. Getting three little kids that are rather helpless out the door is a lengthy and stressful process. I am helplessly impatient with my children as the moments tick by.
Mommy is certainly less stressed, children are more happy, and our household is better maintained when this Mommy slows down and finds delight in creatively using her time at home. If I am feeling lonely or experiencing self-pity about staying home, it is a reminder to stop and check my heart. Where am I seeking to find my fulfillment? Am I looking for my help in others first before my sweet Lord? Why not befriend a book, or the Book of all Books. I want to make sure my heart is still first and foremost towards my first mission – honoring the Lord in our family and home. Beautifying this place. Cultivating domestic serenity here and now.
We are learning valuable life skills and teamwork from our own home today as we work together cutting apples for the dehydrator, unloading the dishwasher, reading stories, memorizing poetry and verses, shaping letters, running around playing hide and seek, and taking a daily pause to rest. This is beautiful when you learn to see the art before your eyes. Time is too precious to waste too much of it running here and there.
I pray you would be blessed to be able to slow down and see the treasure of staying home and delighting in that.