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Around the home

Do you want to have an open house mentality?

manuelita otero

Some time ago when we moved to Singapore, I remember thinking that I wanted to be more generous with our home.  A couple of weeks later we heard about a group of teen choir members who were coming from Philippines and needed host families. We received two wonderful young girls as they visited the city. That was the beginning of our open house mentality. Fast forward to today- We just said goodbye to family who stayed with us celebrating my son’s graduation and as soon as they left another family member came and stayed with us while he had meetings in Atlanta. Also, a friend is sleeping on our couch because her apartment flooded. Did I mention that we live in a two bedroom  apartment and I work full time?

I have always loved having people over, but I liked everything to be controlled. A certain number of days, during certain seasons, and leaving enough time so I could plan the menu, clean the house, and prepare everything for my guests. By the time they arrived I was exhausted and stressed because, if we're honest, there’s not much we can control. Things are different now because if someone asks me if they can stay at our apartment, I put myself in their position and welcome them in.  And the best thing is that I enjoy their visit because I have let go of the hosting standards I had set up for myself. I decided that I simply couldn’t be everything. I couldn’t be the perfect chef, the perfect hostess, the perfect friend, and still keep the rhythm of life that I live.

What helped me change my attitude?

  • I accepted that I couldn’t do it all and that having a lot of people over naturally makes a messy house.  

  • Meals stopped being a big ordeal, they became fun time for conversation around the table, even if the main course is pizza.  

  • I thought about me, not only my guests. If I need to sleep early I simply say good night. If I need some time I alone, I take it.

  • I started cooking around my guests. Many times the visit is at the kitchen or if I am making guacamole I just prepare it at the table with my guests who like to keep trying until the flavor is just right.   

  • I specialized in a couple of dishes that I can cook fast. They are delicious, one dish meals that feed a lot of people.   

  • I started accepting help. As simple as this may sound, for some reason I thought accepting help from my guests was not appropriate. Now when someone asks me if they can help, I have several duties in mind.  

  • I learned to be flexible and go with the flow.

  • I started focusing more on the moment. Every time someone is in our home is an opportunity to let them know how special they are and to create a stronger relationship. This is a gift and an honor.  

  • I spoke the truth. If for some reason I can’t  receive someone at home, I tell them and offer another time. Sometimes even if you really want to have guests over, you just can’t and people understand.

An open house doesn’t mean a perfect one and once we realize this, we get to enjoy precious time with  friends and family.

Manuelita   @manuelitaotero