Habits and Hospitality
The quest for simplicity is not about austerity. At the heart, we don’t really want less, but more. More contentment. More gratitude. More stillness and growth. More moments of full presence when we are really living in the beauty of now with the people that matter.
One thing I long to make more room for in my day-to-day is hospitality. Authentic, warm, welcoming, come-on-in-to-our-crazy hospitality. A steady stream of people in our home to know and share with and walk along side in the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly. I want to have the doors of both our hearts and our home open to whoever the Lord would send our way.
In reality though, when I feel like my house is always a mess and I’m constantly behind on the ever-present, never crossed off, to-do list that is just a part of adulthood, I’m not nearly as quick to invite in as I’d like to be. And when I do, I find that my heart is so cluttered with stress and busyness that I don’t feel as ready as I want to be to fully engage with our guests from a place of peace and intentionality.
There is grace even in the stress and the craziness. And I think when we’re faithful to invite and welcome, even when (and sometimes especially when) the environment of our homes feels like it doesn’t measure up to the standard we’ve built up in our minds, hospitality bears fruit. One step that I want to take towards more readiness for hospitality is to let go of those pinterest-ready expectations that distract from the true heart of what it means to welcome people in.
Where Habits Come In
When Allison inspired me to think about habits in a different way, and pointed me to Gretchen Rubin’s book on habits, Better Than Before, I chose a few tidiness habits to try to cultivate. Some of them were pretty easy to implement, other ones we’re still working at making consistent, but the sweetest fruit of creating rhythms that help keep our baseline level of tidiness at a much more manageable level is how much more ready and less stressed I feel about inviting people into our home. Whether for an impromptu play-date or dinner or even an extended visit, the hurdle is a lot lower to get our house “ready”, and my prayer is that as I practice those habits for the benefit of both our family and for those who might come in, the Lord would also ready my heart to really invite others in as well.
The most freeing thing I’ve learned about habits is that they need to be personalized to fit each person’s habit-related tendencies, but I wanted to share these tidiness routines that have helped me and maybe they’ll help you think about some practical ways to cultivate habits you’ve desired to practice. They may seem small, by they have really empowered me.
- Making our bed every day
Cue: When I get dressed. Somehow I manage to get dressed every day. But, although I’ve tried several times, I had never successfully developed the habit of making our bed every day (or even very often). When I learned to link this desired habit with an existing habit cue (getting dressed), it made all the difference.
Reward: Our room stays so much cleaner, and looks so peaceful and pretty, when our bed is made. It helps set a good tone for the whole day.
- Tidying in 30 minute chunks.
Cue: When the girls go down for naptime and bedtime, I put in my headphones to listen to a podcast and clean whatever needs to be tackled for exactly 30 minutes. My husband Keith joins me in this habit in the evening. It’s amazing how much we can get done in a focused 30 minutes and the time limit helps it not to feel overwhelming.
Reward: We get to listen to podcasts, which we love, and it feels great to go to bed in the evening with the house tidy.
- Dishwasher habits
Cue: During our evening 30 minute chunk, one of us fills and runs the dishwasher. Then, in the morning while Keith is up with the girls getting them breakfast, he empties it.
Reward: The dishes don't pile up in the sink all day because I can put them right into the empty dishwasher.
For more practical wisdom on habits, don't miss Allison's post on habit formation!