Since the day we were married, and long before, Jesse and I have had many conversations dreaming about what our lives would look like one day. Telling each other made up stories of our future homes, children, activities etc. We love the idea of a large family; having a small sustainable farm on a large portion of Northwestern Ontario’s beautiful landscape, complete with a huge veggie garden, chickens, and a goat. We prefer a more simple way of life compared to a very busy and product filled one. A life that focuses on relationships and community over stuff and money. When we pictured our home, the idea of allowing it to be the go-to place for friends to come and hang out, with an “our door is always open” motto has always been our goal. The idea of having people just drop by for a cup of coffee or a quick hello throughout the day was amazing.
Jesse comes from a large family: six siblings, several dogs over the years and, of course, chickens, made for a pretty exciting childhood. His parent’s home was and is, to this day, a home that all in their small town know is the place to go for a good cup of coffee, a meal, a chat, a prayer etc. I, on the other hand, grew up in a home of 4, where it was expected that you call before coming over. Plans were to be made and once this step was complete then, and ideally only then, would we move forward with planning an, always amazing, get together — groceries bought, meal prepped and made, timeframe laid out and a house cleaned spotless.
So, how do these two very different backgrounds work together in our new little family? Well, I am introvert and would be completely content to sit at home, alone (or with just my little family), 6 nights out of the week. Jesse, however, is completely an extrovert! He (and it’s seeming like our 7-month-old baby girl) LOVES people. So to try and find that happy medium we’ve decided to host dinners and have a new open door policy. A small group of people on any given night allows me to stick to my roots a little bit and plan out an evening but still allows us some good quality community. I’ve gotta say, as an introverted, conversation junky, I love this. I enjoy inviting people into our home and sharing parts of our life with them. I love being able to cook and love having an excuse to try out new recipes and wine. The bigger challenge for me has been the open door policy we’ve put into place. It hasn’t really happened as I write this, but I love the idea and the concept. However, old habits die hard, and it is still taking me some time to get used to being ok with the state of my home, my child and myself at any given moment if and when people decide to drop by. It really does work out for both of us though. It pushes us, mostly me, out of our comfort zones.
I recently read a post by Erin Loechner, a lovely fellow blogger over at Design for Mankind, about being a hostess and an introvert and what that can look like. She had some amazing tips and ideas (as did many of the readers who commented), and it got me thinking. What have I learned through this process of inviting and opening up our home? Aside from the fact that it is still taking some time to get used to (can I get an amen from my sister Introverts?), it has helped me grow in many ways, both big and seemingly small.
So, here is my list of things I have been learning throughout this adventure
1] It really doesn’t have to be a HUGE deal. Inviting people into your home should be a fun, exciting, and blessed time. There is no need to put on a show — just be you. Your guests are wanting to spend time with you. The You that they know and spend time with outside of your home. To be a completely different person – so worried about presenting a perfect homey atmosphere – would defeat the entire purpose. Be you. Your friends are coming to spend time with you, not your home.
**side note: if your friends are there to see the state of your home or your possessions — Hunny you need some new friends pronto!**
2] Your house is a home, not a museum. Again, no one is coming to study you and your life. People want to spend time with, converse with, and get to know people. We were created for relationship, which requires realism, not perfectionism. You live in your home — let your guests feel as though they can too.
3] Simple is always best. I never want to spend my entire day preparing for a gathering that will take place later in the evening and only last about 4 hours. That is a complete waste of my day. Keep it simple: simple food preparations; simple setup (if at all); just simple. If it’s going to take longer than the amount of time spent with those coming over, it’s not worth the stress.
4] Always, always clean your bathroom. This one is pretty self-explanatory. People can excuse an untidied home. The classic toys on the floor, the laundry baskets not put away, the dishes on the counter — the signs of a lived in Home. No one, however, needs to see these signs in your bathroom. Kitchens and living rooms, yes. Bathrooms, no.
These are just some of the thoughts I’ve had since we’ve decided to really embrace this new addition to our weekly schedule. I am still learning and tweaking things as they come, but these are the things I must keep reminding myself of in those moments of unexpected (and sometimes expected) guests.
So, tidy your home, clean your bathroom and just relax. Your company will simply enjoy the fact that they can spend some quality time with you and your family – maybe also while getting some tasty food out of the deal 😉