Have you ever caught yourself saying “I’m so glad you must leave” silently in your head to your departing guests after the festivities? When hosting and entertaining feels like a chore rather than a joy, you have already experienced hospitality burnout.
What turns some of us from streamlined entertainers into puffing, panting, little engines? Consider these three familiar problems:
1. Pride often underlies your motivational missteps. We work at “looking good”—by preparing gourmet meals, by teaching our children to dress and act “right,” and redecorating the living and dining room. But discontentment, excuses, and frequent apologizing often point out that we arepridefully pursuing a textbook version of hospitality.
Have you ever entertained visiting relatives, guests, or any person because subconsciously this seemed like your duty? Unfortunately, guilt feelings produce more guilt feelings; and walking the tightrope of other people’s expectations can produce greater anxiety.
2. Inappropriate timing causes hospitality hang-ups. We experience varied seasons in our lives. The amount and type of our hospitality change with those seasons. Poorly timed hospitality defeats the best of intentions.
Sometimes you have to remind yourself that an especially stressful time for anyone in the family calls for a moratorium on hospitality. Hospitality issues from the same root word as hospital. Both bring healing to hurting people; but your first responsibility is to care for healing of your own family members.
For the years of our life when students and close friends expanded the family population, our usual hospitality routine slowed. Although close family friends joined us from time to time, we cut back drastically on reaching out to neighbors and acquaintances. This bothered me a little, but I knew my family was extending all the hospitality they could handle just then.
3. Hospitality is not fun and games for everyone. Some people don’t possess the inborn talent of hospitality, nor the natural bent toward it.
Certain lifestyles and circumstances can hinder hospitality efforts. A family member’s irregular work schedule or unusual hours can make hospitality difficult—so can cramped living quarters.
For the “empty nesters” frequent hospitality commitments should be easier, right? Wrong. Even with just two schedules to consider, you must be wary of overcommiting yourselves.
Overscheduling may cause one to forfeit time for other more essential activities. It might also prevent you from running an errand with your spouse, or children, or just taking time to listen to their feelings or dreams.
Children have a tendency to zap delightful chunksof time, soon, you will rejoice in the unique relationship you have with your children when they’re grown. When your spouse retires, you can look forward to learning new things together and savoring your time with one another.
We have outlines the shape of our lives. Each of us different; but all of us individually, must consider our daily work, the people in our lives, and our special projects. Perhaps you’ve returned to school. Maybe a challenging volunteer job claims your time.
Hospitality does need cutting back at times. Occasionally a complete respite is in order. During those times the door to your home doesn’t swing open as often.
When it is best for you to spend time alone, take the opportunity to evaluate recent events under your roof. Skim through your journal, menu record, and guest book to remind yourself of almost forgotten names and situations. What have you learned from those experiences? You do not have to live in a bubble—when a friend relates her latest hosting experience, rejoice with her. Be thankful for the times you’ve shared with others. With this you will still be comfortable with the idea of planning fellowships at your house in the future.
Because of the time of rest, you will appreciate entertaining guests once again. You may even look forward to making new friends and cherishing the old.
Establishing the who, when, what, how, and why of your outreach through hospitality is the most important element of planning; the who directs your attention to people needing your company, the what determines the kind of hospitality (neighborhood potluck or tea party, for instance), the how might enlist a new community member as your co-host, the why affirms the objective of hosting the event.
With the numerous events and celebrations all year round, plan a meaningful, celebration focusing on the real value of the holiday season. Don’t try to be that little mechanical engine.