Open home – The welcome mat is always out
Our family has an open home, which is not at all the same thing as having an open house.
An open house is where we tidy everything up and make it look as perfect as possible so that we can invite other people over and impress them. It’s making a house into something saleable rather than into something liveable, and it’s only open to people coming for a visit, just for a look around.
An open home, on the other hand, is a place where people can come at any time, even when it’s not perfectly tidy (which our place never is), and feel at home. It’s a place where friends feel free to pop by unannounced for a cup of coffee and where neighbours can leave their kids in a pinch.
For example, we have living in our house at the moment, me, my wife, my three kids, my mother-in-law, my step-sister, a homestay student from Japan, and two tenants in the basement, not to mention the hermit crab, the guinea pig, and the cat. We also have two family businesses, a physiotherapy clinic and a publishing press, that run out of our home. This is before people drop by for coffee and leave their kids in a pinch.
There are people coming and going all the time, and one phone or another is ringing all day long, and sometimes it feels a little overwhelming, but the benefits of living like this are enormous. There’s always someone to lend a hand, to help with a chore or to look after a kid. There’s always someone to talk to or ask advice from when a problem arises. In a world where we are increasingly isolated from our communities by our technologies and our jobs and lifestyle, an open home allows us to offer the warmth and support and connection that only close human relationships can offer.
So don’t worry so much about whether the toys are picked up and the dishes are done before opening your home. People need your friendship far more than your housekeeping skills.
Luke is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged nine, seven, and three. He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university. He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.