I can’t believe the day has come, but I’m realizing now that I’m officially past the “young mom” phase, where I was juggling nursing babies and toddlers on my hips and picking up Cheerios with my toes, and it’s ever easier to encourage my family to serve others. But I remember well feeling trapped (and honestly sometimes, I still do!) by all the commitments required in being a mama, especially with littles in tow. When I asked Stephanie to share from her heart about her own calling to open her life to encouraging others, she brought these amazing ideas about practicing hospitality mom-to-mom. Her ideas about how to encourage moms right where they are are so practical and if you’re not a mom, or out of this season, they’re also a super helpful starting point to help you know what you can do to help, especially in the area of encouraging young moms – even if you are one yourself!
Some of these ideas are for carving out time to talk and some of these ideas are service related, because giving another momma a break, no matter how brief, can speak volumes of encouragement to her weary soul. I hope these will inspire you to extend your heart to someone and welcome them to kneel with you at the feet of our Savior.
Idea #1: At-Home Coffee/Breakfast
I’ve had some good park play-dates, but I’ve had mostly really chaotic ones. I began to realize that meeting another mom at the park was not the way to squeeze in fellowship. We both spent the entire time interrupting our conversation to stop a kid from doing something dumb, take someone to the bathroom, or find the one that was missing. Not only was it not productive, but I actually left feeling frustrated.
This is when I realized that talking with someone else was far more successful when our kids play in one of our homes. We don’t have to worry about unknown dangers, kids wandering off, or finding a bathroom. There are far fewer interruptions. Mornings always work best for this because kids are in their best moods. Afternoons tend to end in drama because everyone needs a nap.
If you are hosting, prepare something fresh and warm. That doesn’t mean it has to be homemade! Grab a box of muffin or scone mix, or even just warm up some muffins you grabbed from your local bakery. It is so rare that mommas feel pampered, and a gesture as simple as serving a warm breakfast communicates care on a whole other level. It’s this attention to detail, and the earnest heart to serve that truly demonstrates what it means to be hospitable. You’re house may not be pristine (mine never is) but you can still create a place of rest. (From Angela: If you DO feel like whipping up something yummy from scratch, this lemon quick-bread is healthy and light, and this apple frangipane tart is delicious, healthy, and deceptively easy!)
*If you have a minute, read Genesis 18:1-8*
I love the King James translation of Abraham’s invitation to his visitors in Genesis 18:5, “comfort ye your hearts”. How can you extend restoration, strengthening, support, and comfort to those at your table?
Idea #2: Send a text asking “How can I pray for you today?”
This one is so simple that it probably seems silly to list, but there is so much power and comfort in prayer! I can’t tell you how many times I have felt uplifted just knowing someone was going to intercede on my behalf, in the midst of feeling discouraged by my weaknesses. A text is especially good because when life is busy, a phone call can seem too time consuming. A text gets right to what matters most. If you are particularly familiar with their struggles, maybe you don’t even need to ask “how?” but just let them know that you are praying. (From Angela: And then, DO IT! 🙂 )
Tip #2: Busy moms (that’s all moms) need a nugget to ponder.
As a follow-up to the text idea, perhaps there is a Scripture the Lord directs you to that would minster to them? This can go a long way because it gives them something to ponder and be encouraged by, even if they didn’t have a chance to open their Bible today.
Idea #3: Micro-Babysitting
I think I just coined a term!? One of my favorite things is offering to watch a friend’s kiddos for 1 1/2 – 2 hours so she can do whatever the heck she wants. This is a no judgement offer. The time with her kids flies by for me, and she gets what feels like time-stopped-bliss. I tell my friends on the front end that there are no strings attached and they can read, run errands, get a pedicure, vacuum. It’s their time. That kid-free liberty is a gift like no other. Just make the window of time clear on the front end, so there are no issues. Example: “Hey! I am free from 10-12 today if you’d like to drop off Levi and Sadie so you can have a little break!”
Tip #3: Respect time limits and schedules.
Don’t be the mom no one wants to hang out with because you are a time-sucker. If you invite someone over or are invited over, be aware of how long you have been together. Don’t take up their whole day or they will be hesitant to get together again. If you are hosting, release them to go whenever they need to get on with their day. If you are visiting, just be sensible about a reasonable time to stay, and allow them to get on with the rest of their day. Better to leave wanting a little more time together than one of you wishing it had ended sooner. In short, don’t overstay your welcome. This also goes for “just stopping by to drop something off.” Keep it short and sweet if the expectation is that you are just dropping by. If you want to stay and talk, ask them on the front end if they have some time.
Idea #4: Grocery run / Delivery
If you live within a reasonable distance of some of your mom friends, offering to pick something up for your fellow momma while you are at the local grocer, can be both efficient and an answer to prayer. I have been blessed by this offer many times, especially when I’m sick. If you can’t physically get to the store, but perhaps have more grocery money at your disposal, consider getting a list of her needs and doing a grocery delivery order to her door! I’m pretty sure that would be almost as amazing as an angelic visitation 😉
Tip #4: Serve strategically in the chaos and the peace.
Keep yourself from getting burnt out by being smart about how you use your time. For example, the nights when my husband works late are the nights I offer to give someone else a date night with their husband. Why? Because I’m already gonna be the one putting the kids to bed, so mentally I’m prepared for a long night, and adding two kids to the crazy really doesn’t make much of a difference–in fact it may even help occupy my kids! On the other hand, on mornings when my daughter is at school and it’s just me and my three-year-old, things are pretty quiet, and that is when it would be more ideal for me to offer to drop groceries off for someone else, since I’m doing my shopping, or offer to watch one kid that I know is more “low-key” like a baby, who is mostly going to lay on a blanket and babble, and possibly be entertained by my three-year-old. It’s working smarter, not harder; serving someone else, while still meeting my own family’s needs. That doesn’t mean I will never watch a handful of kids during my quiet morning time–there are times we are called to big time sacrifice– but we can still cultivate a habit of service by being smart with our time and rhythms.
Tip #5: Feed the kids first
This has been a survival tool in our house. Whether you’re having another mom over, or another family, or even when it’s just your family, sometimes feeding the kids first is your ticket to sanity and adult conversation. There is a time and a place for wholesome family dinners around the table, for me, that time and place is either a restaurant or at whatever age the kids can eat without being told to, and without covering the floor in food. Meal times are so often un-enjoyable when kids are small because you never the get the peace and rest you need to relax and enjoy the taste of your food. For this reason, I say, dismiss tradition, let yourself off the hook, and feed the kids first. Whether that’s on a blanket in the living room, a kids’ table in the kitchen, or a picnic table outside, give your full attention to that job and then let them fly off to play or watch a movie. Then you and whoever you are dining with can actually think straight and enjoy some meaningful conversation!
May we seek to bless others, to strengthen the feeble in spirit, to pursue Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:10 to “Show family affection to one another with brotherly love” and “Outdo one another in showing honor.” As believers we have such a unique opportunity and responsibility to carry one another along in this race for the eternal Prize.
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing these awesome tips and wisdom for practicing hospitality mom-to-mom! How can you get to work (even while keeping your home and family first!) encouraging young moms? (Or how can you use these ideas to ask for help yourself? 🙂 )
If you’d like to go deeper, Stephanie is sharing some truth-filled teaching at Read Cook Devour. Go say “hi,” and tell her you found her here!
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