The Heart of Hospitality: the Ministry of the Encouraging Play Date

The oft contested play date.  Browsing Pinterest reveals many pins about avoiding them and about hosting the “perfect” play date.  If play dates are about clean houses, uninterrupted mom time, and fancy snacks, quite frankly, I suck at them.  But, as we talked about yesterday, Katie and I believe hospitality isn’t about these external measures of success but about generously sharing our lives and homes.

I feel like I’m living in the season of the play date.

And that used to bother me.  A lot.  I remember a conversation with a kid-less friend about how I didn’t like play dates because they were just a way of passing time, and I’d rather be doing something more significant.  I now know I was missing the potential of a play date.  

Yes, play dates can just be hanging out at the park with an attitude of passing time, but play dates don’t have to be insignificant. Play dates can be a catalyst for encouraging another mama, and when approached with this attitude they will probably encourage you as well.    

play date ministry Heart of Hospitality Moms Blog

What is a play date?

In many ways, I hate that words “play date” since they come with so much baggage.  For my family, a play date means that the mom and child(ren) come to our home. We straighten up our home a bit and think about what food we have to share.  In this season of life I don’t enjoy baking, so usually it’s goldfish crackers, fruit, or perhaps a simple lunch of pb&j or grilled cheese.  It’s an attitude that says, “Come in to my home and my life!  I want to know you, and I want you to know me.”

Usually my conversations are peppered with interruptions of taking my children to the potty and resolving conflict, but this doesn’t have to mean they are trivial.  

One way I’ve come to enjoy play date conversations is to think about a few intentional questions to engage my friend in before she arrives.  Instead of asking what she thinks of the hot weather we’ve had this summer, I might go a little deeper by asking about how her week has been and then following up with a more personal question, such as “How are you doing with that ___ {behavioral issue/lack of sleep/disobedience}? If my guest goes to church I may ask her “what’s something that you found encouraging or challenging from the sermon on Sunday?”.  In this way, we can encourage one another and redeem the time of the play date.

Although some days I still feel like I’m just filling my days with “hanging out” , when I stop to think about it, I realize I am encouraging others, sharing with others, and demonstrating to my children one way of loving others. And isn’t that what true hospitality is all about?

I hope you consider including these purposeful play dates in your routines.  And, please join us tomorrow as Katie gives us some practical suggestions about making hospitality a joy.  


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