JDC is one of the first blogs I read consistently and Emily is just lovely. Besides having fabulous style and loads of talent, she’s warm, gracious, and completely genuine. (And her art prints are some of my favorite gifts to give).
What else? She’s experienced the ultimate in sharing her home: hosting long-term guests.
Hospitality can be scary. Depending on your personality and your feelings about your home, inviting friends to dinner can unearth insecurities and anxiety.
Try inviting friends to live with you for several months.
Emily’s done it twice.
On two occasions, friends lived with them for about eight months. In both situations, their friends were new to the area, so Emily and her husband invited them to stay until they found/built their own homes.
Exactly How Did That Work?
Each time, there were multiple children involved. Newborns, even. Bedroom assignments were rearranged. They got creative with space, at one point giving the baby an over-sized closet.
Since they have a two-story home, they housed their friends upstairs and shared their downstairs master bath with their own kids. Emily says that division was helpful in creating some personal space for each family.
Having lived with friends on two occasions myself, I will agree that one reason it worked so well in the first case was that our friends graciously gave us our own bedroom, bathroom, and mostly free reign over their office space. (Neither family had kids at the time).
Can home-sharing be done in closer quarters? Sure. But it’s certainly more sustainable with adequate personal space.
Challenging, But Worth It
Even with a reasonable division of space, were there challenges? Of course.
As Emily says,
“you forget how important privacy and spending time with just your own family is. When there is another couple hanging out or extra kids needing attention, it wears on you. Plus, you can’t hide anything – every quirk and habit, whether good or bad is on display.”
My biggest fears in moving in with friends were that there would be conflict and that my flaws would be glaringly apparent to all.
Turns out both happened, but I needn’t have been afraid.
There were some hard conversations and unexpected struggles. However, with honesty and lots of grace, we emerged from our time living together closer friends than before.
Emily shares a similar perspective:
“Even though it was challenging, the experience was very refining for our family. While we may not volunteer to host another family at this point (especially now that we have four kids and our house is much fuller!), we would absolutely do it again if the need was there with one of our friends or family.”
Why Host Long-Term Guests?
Because it’s freaking awesome.
Ok. Not everyone would be freaking awesome to live with. I get that.
I am probably not freaking awesome to live with half the time.
But let’s assume that we’re talking about reasonably gracious and honest (the two most important qualities of house guests, if you ask me) people. And that everyone has adequate personal space.
In such cases, here’s why it’s awesome:
*You get to share what you have. Your home is a gift and you get to bless someone with it.
*You’re modeling generosity and hospitality to your kids.
*It’s good for you. Those are Emily’s words and I so agree. Living with friends revealed junk in my heart and forced me to deal with it.
*Sharing meal prep!
*Free babysitting! Take turns going out after the kids are in bed. Easy peasy. (No kids? Even easier :)).
*Deeper relationships. Emily got to live with her best friend and their kids developed sibling-like friendships.
I’m so grateful for my time spent both as a long-term guest and as a long-term host. Each time, Hubs and I were in challenging seasons of life–but we got to walk through it with friends who loved us.
Have you ever hosted long-term guests or been a long-term guest yourself? Or does the idea totally weird you out? 🙂