“I want our house to be the house where our children’s friends want to hang out.”
I can remember saying that when our children were young. Yet to be that kind of house doesn’t just happen when our children become teenagers.
Oh, no. It starts way before that – when our children are around 5 or six years old. We set the tone early on and it lives on throughout our child’s teenage years, even into adulthood. Is our home a friendly, nurturing place? Do children feel welcome? Do we ask them about themselves and LISTEN when they answer?
Since we wanted a kid friendly home, it meant that I had to tolerate mess, noise, and consumption of large amounts of food. (of course that was normal life when just our four were home) Now looking back I can honestly say I really did enjoy having our children’s friends over. I got to know them as indiviudals and observed how our children acted around their friends.
I am NOT a perfectionist when it comes to house cleaning.
OK, I am not CLOSE to a perfectionist – I dust once a month whether it needs it or not! At one point in time when our children were young, the bathtub in our upstairs bathroom didn’t work. When I cleaned upstairs I would put all the random items in the bathtub and pull the shower curtain shut.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” (I know some of you are cringing right now!)
Yet I enjoy having people over and have always felt that people are more important than my house. I have great memories of our children’s friends playing with the Fisher-Price toys, or making baseball diamonds in the field behind our house. That was before they paved paradise and put in a parking lot.
To ensure that our homes are kid friendly means that we must plan ahead. A few helpful guidelines will make it a pleasant experience for all:
* Put the valuable breakables on high shelves or out of sight.
* It is ok to have places in our homes that are off limits like dad’s office, a sewing room, or
anywhere that children could hurt themselves or others.
* Clearly communicate “house rules” – such as – no hitting, no calling names, taking turns, etc.
* Supervise at all times – know where all children are and keep yourself engaged with them.
* If children are using media, know what it is – or turn it off!
* Play outside whenever possible – less mess to clean up!
* If conflicts break out (should I say when?) redirect. Read a story or play a group game.
* Smile and laugh with the children! Have fun. Your own children will be blessed.
Jesus went out of His way to welcome children.
Mark 9:36-38 (NLT)
36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”
When we welcome our children’s friends into our homes, we are welcoming Jesus!
That is the way God wants us to see it. Hopefully our children’s friends will see Jesus in us.