Friday, August 6, 2010

Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged, Part 2 Invite People Frequently

Part 1 of Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged warmed you up to the idea of hospitality by showing you that hospitality is your responsibility not your neighbors. Although it would be nice if we were so popular that we received an invitation every week, month, or heck even once a year, if you really want to build relationships it is up to you to extend the hand of friendship. You won’t be sorry. 

In Part 2, Invite People Frequently, you will learn why inviting people frequently will actually cut down on the work you will have to do to get ready for company and make your job of hospitality much easier. 

I am sure there is someone reading this blog saying to herself, “DUH”. But for me it wasn’t so obvious.  

My House is Finally Clean…

…and I Don’t Want You to Mess it Up.

I remember not too many years ago my Mother-in-law came for a visit.  I want you all to know that I love my MIL, no if ands or buts, BUT in her excitement to be with her grandchildren, often the entire house can get destroyed in less than 15 minutes. This occasion was no different. She loves to bake with the kids so they had made something along those lines. There was flour on the cutting board; she walked it over to the kitchen trash and dumped it in and it all fell on the floor.  She doesn’t even say, “woops,” she just grabs her purse and says she is going to the store. She walks out and I am sitting there looking at this pile of flour on the floor and looking around at the other messes she has made in the house, and I am getting really upset.  It put me in a foul, unforgiving mood, and other issues that would have just rolled off my back ended up being “straws that broke the camel’s back” issues.

This hung with me for weeks, months, OK, years! I couldn’t understand why she had to wreck our house like this. I NEVER did that at her house because I am PERFECT! Over time I started to realize what the problem was. I wasn’t enjoying her company, I was enjoying my clean house.
The question then became, “How can I enjoy her company without getting wrapped up in the all the efforts I put into the house?”

It finally came to me when I was prepping for her next visit. “Just don’t clean the house,” someone told me (that would be my mother). How could I do that? MILs are notorious for judging you (as are mothers) on the state of your home. But I gave it a shot. I didn’t do quite as much. I did get all the clutter put away and get the house generally clean, but I didn’t wash walls, shampoo carpets, shine the silver, etc. I went to no greater lengths than if my best friend were coming over to hang out. She came and did the same thing she usually does and there were a few moments when I walked into a previously clean room and found huge messes, but I didn’t linger on it long because I hadn't put a lot into the clean house preparing for her visit. We ended with one of the best visits we had ever had. I even hated to see her go.

Did I learn my lesson? No.

…and Now I am Too Tired to Enjoy Your Company.

I had a birthday party for one of the kids last year (4 years ago) and I went to great lengths to get the house ready. Again, I worked my fingers to the bone and irritated my hip injury. By the time the party was going I was in so much pain that I really just didn’t enjoy it. All I could think about was when it would be over. I think that was the day that I finally decided that this routine of letting the house go, then bringing out the jackhammer to get it clean less than 24 hours before guests arrived had to end. (OH if only it would have lasted.)

…and I Scarred My Children and Caused a Divorce in the Process. (Not really my husband doesn't use that word.)

The other issue that is even more embarrassing to me than a dirty house is how I was reacting to my family. Because we didn’t have a good cleaning routine down and it was so infrequent, I nearly always had issues with kids griping about having to help. This is a whole blog series in itself, but I could get pretty infuriated over this. I do things for them constantly and when I ask then to do something for me I expect them to do it without complaint because I'm PERFECT. However, that wasn’t what was happening. Sometimes I wished I could just ship them off with their dad for a day out so at the very least they wouldn’t be tearing up what I had just cleaned, but I firmly believe this principle:

Thou must clean what thou hast destroyed.
You Are Who You Are

I wish, I wish, I wish, I was the kind of SAHM that had it all together and cleaned house daily, but I just am NOT. Let's just say I am working on it. Like I point out in my binder post, I have to come up with solutions that account for being a procrastinator and work around it.  I don’t and won’t punish myself daily or entertain thoughts of going back to work because someone out there who wants to control what I do with my day says I should do things their way.

However, for whatever reason, having company over really motivates me to get things clean. So, bada-bing, bada-boom, there you go, the answer to my clean house issue and wanting to make stronger connections. Just invite people over a lot! (This totally works even 4 years later.)

A New Truth!

The more invitations I make, the cleaner my house is, and the cleaner my house is, the more invitations I make, the more invitations I make the deeper my relationships become. 
WOW!  Who woulda thought?
I have been doing it backwards my whole life.  It went something like this: The more I clean my house...oh forget it, I hate to clean my house. 
That philosophy doesn't exactly make it easy to grow deeper relationships and in the end, that is what this series is all about. 

LAZY GIRL TIP #3: Hospitality is a tool we use to grow deeper relationships.

How Frequently is Frequently?

The frequency really depends on your schedule and what you think you would be comfortable with. If our schedule would allow, I would invite someone over every week. What I found out was that our schedule doesn’t allow for that. We are more flexible than others because we homeschool, but with extra curriculums, Bible studies, home improvements, etc., our schedule is still tight.  My husband has a full and part time job, and I have many volunteer activities on top of my responsibilities at home. We are very busy! Plus, we want to make sure we are spending some down time as a family where it is just us. (Listen to all the excuses! Now I say just do and make room one night a week.  Relationships are more important than sports.)

Sit down with your spouse and your family calendar. Then follow these steps:
  • Discuss and make a list of people you would like to invite over in the next few months. Don’t forget to leave room for at least one or two people you haven’t met yet.
  • Discuss how long it takes you to get the house as clean as you feel comfortable with having guests over, but no more. You don’t need to clean every drawer, closet, and storage area. 
  •  Look at the calendar and find one or two days a month a week that would allow you to invite company over. If you are daring like us, set the goal higher. We called it Friend Friday, but it was turned into Sundays. (Now back to Fridays.)
  • Keep the gathering simple. No need to invite every person you know on the same day. Just one family at a time. More on this in a later post.
  • Schedule one big cleaning task per day until the day of the invitation. Actually write it on your calendar.
  • Block out 2-6 hours (SERIOUSLY, it does take me 6 hours sometimes. UGH!) the previous day for cleaning the rest and use the day of the invitation to cook and primp. The better you are at keeping up with the cleaning, the less time you will have to spend the day prior.
  • In the event of a cancellation, ask someone else (just don’t tell them they were second on the list).
  • In the event that you can’t find anyone to come over, just enjoy the day with your family, playing games and watching movies. You deserve it!

The Snowball Effect

The more you invite the cleaner your house will be the next week. Not only does it help build relationships if you keep the flow of guest coming you will find that from week to week since you are at least doing weekly cleaning, that you are making progress on problem areas in your house.  Say for instance in your living room, the first week you just declutter and vacuum.  The following week you declutter, but there is less stuff because it hasn't been 3 or 4 weeks since you did that.  You now have time to declutter, vacuum, and dust.  The following week declutter, vacuum, dust and organize.  Who knows what it may lead to!

What If My House Just Isn't Going to Be Clean?

Have you ever heard of the park or a restaurant?  It doesn't have to be fancy.  You just need some place you can relax in and have great conversation.  Don't pick Chuck-e-Cheese.  Not only can you not hear in that place, you will likely come away with some kind of virus. Parks are great because you can use a shelter and set up shop for a while and it gives your kids some place to play.  Just keep in mind that weather could bring you back to your house anyway.  You might also go visit a local attraction. Some of our best conversations and most fun we've had have been away from our home.

So there you go.  Your new truth:
The more invitations you make, the cleaner your house is, and the cleaner your house is, the more invitations you will make, the more invitations you make the deeper your relationships become. And that is what makes life so good! 

Part 3 of the series, What Actually Needs to Be Clean, will discuss setting up realistic cleaning expectation. It is a fine balance between making sure your guests feel comfortable in your home while not punishing yourself with unnecessary tasks.

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