My husband and I have entertained with kids for almost 18 years now, and somewhere along the way our 3 little cherubs have grown into teenagers. Yes, it’s more stressful to entertain with kids, especially little kids.

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Here’s an honest comment that came to me recently:

I find often that my perfectionism is more centered around me being concerned with having 4 children ages 10 and under – what they will do, what I will do with them, what families do I invite – ones with kids, ones without – what about the ones where their youngest is the age of my oldest – what do I have for the older kids to do so they don’t feel like they’re babysitting mine? How do us grown-ups enjoy the time while dealing with the disagreements that seem to inevitably happen between the kids? Sometimes, as much as I hate it, I almost feel it would be easier to hire a babysitter to watch the kids somewhere else while my husband and I could spend time building relationships with others – but then that’s under false pretenses as well. – RE reader

Do you know how many times I’d struggled with the thought – it’s just too hard? I know I’ve struggled with perfectionism a bit. I had in my mind that things had to be or look a certain way, and then before I knew it, my whole plan would deviate or go haywire. But I learned to go with the flow, and to realize that it was part of life.

I learned to make it work by practice. I watched my friends make it work, and my parents had made it work with me and my sisters. We let go of what we thought was “perfect” and focused on the important – and in the process we raised hospitable kids. My husband and I were talking last night about how our kids got to an age where they were expected to hold their grievances until later when the guests were gone. We had a lot of conversations with our kids when they were little. They have to be taught about hospitality. How to act. What they could and could not get away with.

Planning a stress-free dinner with kids

– Know it will not be perfect – ever
– Chat with the kids ahead of time and prepare them with your expectations
– Feed the kids first
– Have an activity for them to do after their meal
– Soak up the few minutes of adult-time around the table and be thankful for what you get

Planning a stress-free meal with no kids

– Hire a babysitter to come over to entertain the kids
– Feed the kids first, then send them on their way while the adults eat
– Again, know that there is a possibility that things will go south

I am so thankful I didn’t say “no” to entertaining during the past 18 years.

I’m glad we have kids.
I’m happy we did not say no to entertaining with kids.
I’m thankful for 18 years of memories and so much more.
I can look back and honestly say we’ve raised hospitable kids.

Lastly, I think about the amazing friendships that have been forged around our dinner table–that many times included our kids.

In what areas do you struggle with entertaining with kids?

The pictures in this post are from the new October edition Yum for Kids Magazine. Reluctant Entertainer is featured on a few pages (thank you Kristen Doyle, from Dine and Dish), and you can buy this magazine from Wal Mart, Target or Barnes and Noble!

More 31 Days with my friends …
Chatting at the Sky, Nesting Place, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, My First Kitchen, Life With My 3 Boybarians, Remodeling This Life, The Inspired Room