31 Days of Breaking Bread: what about my kids?

When I wrote my first post sixteen days ago, one of the most common concerns among those of you that are reading was that you weren’t really sure how to be an inviter when kids are involved. How can we open up our hearts when our kids are likely to interrupt our conversations? How can we open up our homes when our kids are likely to fight or meltdown or spill something?

So, let’s just get a couple of things straight right at the beginning. There are no perfect children. And there are no perfect parents. If I had to sit here and think of the most well-behaved children I’ve ever been around? I could still tell you a time when I saw them misbehave. (Not because I’m keeping tabs, but because they are normal children.)

When we invite friends over, and usually friends that we’ve never invited over before, I know that they’re going to get to know my sweet kids quickly. It’s never going to go perfectly. My kids are allowed to be as flawed as I am. And they are a very important part of our family.

Why is it so important for us to continue showing hospitality when we have kids? Because our kids need to see what it means to invite. My boys need to learn what it means to share what we have. Our hearts, our space, our things, because they are the Lord’s and we are doing our best to be obedient and be good stewards of what He has given us.

Our family has been extremely blessed through family to family community. We’ve loved getting to know many other families that are in the same life stage. And while our kids may not be sitting around the table while we open up our hearts to each other, they’re off somewhere else playing with the other members of those families. My kids know that these other adults and families have their backs. They recognize these adults and kids as people that their parents love and trust, and the accountability and mutual love that comes from that fills me with so much hope.

For our family, there is a lot of freedom in welcoming other kiddos into our home. Our kids are navigating these waters of sharing and it helps us, as their parents, become even more vulnerable.

31 Days of Breaking Bread

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  1. Katy W says

    Erin, thank you for an inspiring and engaging series. You have inspired me to open my home to guests this week even though my carpets weren’t vacuumed and I didn’t have days to plan an elaborate menu. I love the idea that we can open up our homes and hearts without the tether to perfection.

  2. Sarah S says

    Thank you for this series! My kids came home from school today in terrible moods, and we proceeded to have a tough afternoon of attitude and homework struggles. I remembered your breaking bread with my family post from earlier in the series and resolved to do it. I made a healthy dinner I knew they would like, sat down with them, had them put their books away and we did roses and thorns (turns out my daughter had a bad day at school) and then family dinner questions. By the end we were all much more relaxed and laughing and the entire mood of the house had lifted. Thank you again for the series!

  3. says

    I just found your blog a few weeks ago and have really enjoyed reading it, I am a mom to 2 boys (4 & 5) and 2 girls (7&8), we have a busy home to say the least! I have Really enjoyed this breaking bread series. and wanted to get your opinion on something. We live in a smaller home (about 1400 sq ft) and we love our neighborhood and we plan on staying here for a while, until all the kids are in school and I go back to teaching then we will eventually get a bigger place. The last time we invited family over for my daughter’s birthday my sister-in-law responded by telling me she didn’t think she would come because she didn’t want to feel crowded, and suggested we have it somewhere else…so even though I LOVE having people over this comment really stung and I have been hesitant to have people over. Any suggestions on having breaking bread in a cozy place?

    • Sarah S says

      I felt I had to reply to this ! That is too much from your sister in law. i completely understand why that comment stung. We have a 1000 square foot house and yes, it does make it harder to have people over. BUT, it’s possible. The tricks we have found are : invite smaller groups, use your yard when it’s nice out (we host a lot of backyard BBQ’s and be creative with seating. Buffet style food works well, put a little table in one of the kids room for them to eat in there, etc. For the most part I have found folks to be very kind and flexible and accommodating. Some have said they enjoy it more because it’s always so “relaxed” at our house – which basically means any available surface is yours to use for sitting on or drinks : ). I would also add to be realistic. As much as i would like to host our 10 person family for Thanksgiving, that’s probably not the best idea for us.
      I’m also curious what Erin would say because i think she is a more intentional and accomplished hostess than I am but I just had to step in and say – keep at it lady! It’s not about your space, it’s about the intention.

      • Hillary says

        Those are good ideas, thanks! We are definitely more casual entertainers, nothing really big- and I LOVE that you say it’s not about the space, but the intention, that is very encouraging!

        • says

          I’ve been thinking for a few days about this comment and I was going to write a whole post to talk about it, and then I didn’t want to single you out ­čśë But I am just stunned and so upset for you that someone would say that to you. Especially a family member. I am sorry!

          Our last home was a small little bungalow with very little living space… a galley kitchen, a narrow dining area, a small family room. I was always hesitant to invite people over because I just felt like the space was working against my idea of a perfect evening. But i know that was my own insecurity. We hosted our entire sunday school class and their children for a Halloween party one year…. we probably had 30 people in our tiny house. It was crowded. It bothered me a little because I worried that everyone was uncomfortable. But everyone was fine! They were happy and everyone socialized. The truth is… none of us had perfect houses and I think it gave others the freedom to feel like they could invite everyone to their smaller home, too.

          So, Hillary… make those memories in your home. Invite! And remember that it’s not about the space, but the people that are there. And if you treat them like you couldn’t be happier to have them there, they won’t notice the space.

    • says

      I have to jump in too. I have a rather big house currently but I ALWAYS prefer to go to my friends with smaller homes. It just feels more cozy and inviting. And we did a lot of inviting and entertaining when we lived in smaller homes. It is about the people NOT the space (or even the food). I remember my husband’s godmother coming to visit while we were in the middle of renovations and I was so embarrassed of the mess. And she said, “Kim the people that matter don’t care and the people that care about those things don’ matter.” I am not saying your SIL doesn’t matter but it is clearly HER issue. Not yours. Please don’t let it stop you from having people over and making memories in your home.


  4. says

    I have so loved this series. The Lord has shown me so much over the past couple of years about what true hospitality means, and you have captured it perfectly! Some of my favorite times are spent at home with friends over a casual dinner, visiting and listening to our children play together. You have inspired me to do this more often.

  5. says

    I have so loved this series. The Lord has shown me so much over the past couple of years about what true hospitality means, and you have captured it perfectly! Some of my favorite times are spent at home with friends over a casual dinner, visiting and listening to our children play together. You have inspired me to do this more often. Thank you!

  6. Amber says

    Love! You know how important this is to me too. I’ll piggy back and say that you have to keep your sense of humor when your kids aren’t perfect too. There was this time that one of my had his pants around his ankles because “that’s how (he) was having fun!” when we were at a friends house. Oh boy. Who wants perfect kids anyway? Perfect kids are boring.

  7. Jessica R. says

    I just wanted to thank you for this series. We try to be hospitable and open our home to friends often. It is a disappearing art, I think, especially outside the South! We lived in Chicago for 2 years and I think we were invited to someone’s home for dinner…. ONCE. And that was sort of an obligatory church thing!


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