Have the chance to host families with young children in your home? Don’t be afraid! Here are 5 great tips that will make it a great experience for everyone!
Quick Tips for Hosting Families with Young Children
My daughter sat in the middle of the floor, where I had strategically placed her far enough away from everything fragile that I had a decent shot at grabbing her before she ruined one of the many beautiful china pieces placed strategically throughout the room. It was exhausting!
But the situation was made much easier by the sweet woman who kept repeating to me not to worry because everything in the house was “only stuff.”
As a young mom I would have been horrified if my little girl ruined anything but it really helped to know the hostess wouldn’t have felt the same way.
When my daughter was a baby, I would intentionally invite people with children just a little older into our home to watch what they got into and then I would remove those things before my daughter had the chance.
Coffee table decorations soon vanished from our home, low shelves became filled with children’s books and toys, cupboards were locked.
But the reality is that we are not all in a position to completely redo our lives with the thought that perhaps families with young children might spend a few minutes at our home.
So, if you just want to make some simple changes to make sure your youngest guests (and their parents) feel comfortable in your home, here are a few suggestions that will go a long way (take it from a young mom!).
Tell us where we can play
If you would prefer for children to stay in the living room because that is where you have removed potential hazards and things that are easily broken, tell them and their parents that. Let them know that they are to only play in the downstairs or in the living room or wherever it is most convenient for you. It is much easier to work within your framework.
This doesn’t have to be awkward, just say something like “Today, I made sure I had the living room all ready for you! You are welcome to play here but we aren’t going to go upstairs.”
Trust me, it will be more stressful for the parents if they don’t know how to help their children follow your rules.
They are young, they have wiggles, they like to explore.
Give them all the guidelines so everyone can enjoy themselves.
2. Have some toys available
This is VERY helpful. Even for families with young children who try to be completely prepared, a child’s interest in a toy they get to play with regularly is MUCH lower than their interest in a toy they have never seen.
This doesn’t have to be huge or expensive. Hand-me-down toys are great! Cleaned up garage sale toys are great! Dollar store toys are great!
I believe my house will always have a box of toys in it for just this reason! Really, this doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money, just think about a few different age groups when you are putting it together.
If you would like some suggestions, here are a couple ideas. But really, just use your creativity!
3. Keep kid friendly snacks on hand
Here is something I didn’t really put together until I had children in my home – without food, children fall to pieces.
Seriously, temper tantrums start with almost no warning. Crying over the tiniest offenses makes perfect sense in their little minds. And purposely trying to bother other people becomes a mission to live for.
While this is just a normal symptom of childhood sometimes, it can be seriously helped with maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
This means offer a healthy snack to the children (and the parents!) if at all possible.
My family and I are pretty healthy eaters. Because of my chronic illness I have to be careful with gluten and refined sugar so that limits us pretty extensively.
As a result, the things we have on hand are also limited.
BUT it is not impossible.
Whether you like these foods or not, here are several ideas that are all great:
- Cheerios (no honey for babies!)
4. Move your most valuable keepsakes
Did your grandmother give you a beautiful tea set? Is there only one copy of your gorgeous wedding photos? Have you travelled the world and collected amazing little trinkets from your stops?
While your grown-up guests would love to see each of these things and hear about your memories associated with them I’m sure, please don’t leave them on the coffee table when children come over.
Even children who are usually well-behaved are still children.
They drop, bump, rip, and ruin things.
That is part of them exploring the world.
For all of us, please move the precious things you are concerned about out of the space these young guests will be allowed to use.
5. Lay Back or Lay Out
Either decide before you host families with young children that you will be laid back about your stuff or that you will lay out in the sun when you get the chance instead.
What I mean by this is try to be laid back. If you want to have someone with young children over, understand that drinks could get spilled and things could end up knocked over. Try to relax and remember that this is “only stuff” like the sweet woman I told you about earlier.
But if that is really hard for you, recognize that.
If you are afraid of children breaking something but still want to get together with a young mom or young family, do it in the summer when you can meet in the backyard or at a park.
Kids LOVE to play outside. So, if you have a backyard, use it. Or, meet at a park for a few hours and pack a picnic lunch.
You can “lay out” in the sun and watch the kids enjoy themselves while the grown-ups chat between chasing.
It Will Be Noisy
Trust me, families with young children want and need you to reach out and offer hospitality. Just understand beforehand that it will look different (and probably be much louder) than your other hospitality opportunities.
Embrace it, noise and all, because these families need you to come alongside them and you never know what God might do through your open door.
Bonus info about hosting families with young children:
If you are a new grandparent or you plan to host children frequently, here are two things that I have acquired over the years and are invaluable when hosting young children and their families.
High Chair – This high chair folds up just like a folding chair so it doesn’t take up a ton of space but is a lifesaver for a mom who just wants to eat a little of her own food while she’s at your house.
Pack-N-Play – My children almost never slept in their actual cribs because this was so much more convenient! But now, our pack-n-play has held many young children for their naps or overnights at our house. I know for a fact that it has blessed many a mom whose baby needed a nap but who wasn’t yet ready to go home or who needed a few hours to get things done and left their little one in my care.