I love old houses. I wish they could whisper all the stories they hold in my ear as I walk by them. I wish I could glimpse back in time to the days when they were festive and full of life and family. There’s an old house like that around the corner on our regular walk to the cemetery: it used to be a bed and breakfast.
Despite my tendency to decorate houses in my mind I didn’t make that up. The owner was working in the yard one day when we walked by and she told me about the history of the house. It stands empty now but I can picture tired strangers wandering in one of the multiple doors off its wide porch and taking shelter.
I’ve always been a little obsessed with bed and breakfast’s in general. Actually I’ve always wanted to run my own bed and breakfast. (I have a large list of dream work.) Following that conversation I found myself dreaming over my own bed and breakfast. My feet were moving and my eyes were watching my little ones but I was decorating and choosing menus and answering the phone in my head.
Then I stopped. I already do all that work. (Except, of course, if this were a bed and breakfast I’d have to sweep under the couch every day- what grows under there anyway?)
I was challenged to think that I would do more for strangers, and more willingly, than I would for my own family.
I have a home that I’m in charge of. And I know that people are going to live here every single day. In this case it’s the same people and that’s harder because they aren’t strangers that I only see for a day or two. These are people that I know and I love and that can annoy me more deeply than anyone else. But the work is the same.
I’ve used this little trick for myself about homemaking for years now. This is my own bed and breakfast. Bed and dinner. Bed and lunch. Bed and kindergarten. You get the idea. It’s more comprehensive but the goal is the same. I want that warm, inviting home where these people know they belong and are loved and I’ve prepared for them because I love them. There’ll be food and clean clothes and snuggles on the couch reading books and a willing partner to go basketball games. There’ll be mopped floors and toys in baskets because we function better that way. It will be a place designed for the health and growth of souls as well as bodies.
It starts in the heart and mind but leaks over into the practical. Sometimes the work of the home seems like one more thing on the list. And worst of all something that doesn’t matter. But it does matter. How do we know that? Because God cares enough about the home to charge us with the care of it. (Proverbs 31 and Titus 2) Our homes matter; we have a sacred trust here.
There’s plenty of research about the effect of order and routine on small kids. I know how it affects me. I know how beauty affects me. I’m not making a case for magazine-cover worthy homes- although wouldn’t that be nice? I’m making a case for picking up the towels and playing blocks on the rug. I’m making the case for learning the practical skills that make a home: meal planning, scheduling cleaning, moving that blanket over there, and dusting the piano.
When I’m working in my home I often ask myself, “If this were a bed and breakfast, what would I do?” That frequently clears up my goal for me. I would wipe off the bathroom counters and start some pizza dough rising. I would make a mess with the playdough so that my kids were happy during dinner prep. I would make my effort match the value of my home.
It transforms my attitude and therefore how I do my work. It allows me to focus on clean undershirts and a full refrigerator without feeling like a maid.
I’ve written on getting the work done in the home before. It matter that we do it and how we do it. It matters because we’re caring for people and people matter. It matters because Jesus cared for the physical needs of people. It matters because we are charged with the work. It’s not our only work- that would be a silly thing to say, just read the rest of Proverbs 31. But it is part of our work and it affects our families.
Sometimes we need that extra motivation and a bed and breakfast mindset provides that for me.
Will it work for you?