Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Part-time working mom reflections, part III June 4, 2009

Filed under: For moms,Household,Mothering role,Parenting — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 1:35 am

001c0205llThis is the third in a series of posts reflecting on life and child-rearing as a part-time, work-from-home mother. (See Part I and/or Part II)

In this post I discuss some primary issues I ponder and pray through when considering my part-time work alongside mothering my preschoolers.

–Money.  Many women who work for compensation do so because their family finances require it (I am one).  If God calls me to lay down my consulting work to focus exclusively on mothering, I’ll do so knowing He’ll provide an alternate way to meet our financial needs…  a different source of income, downsizing in housing, life simplification, something.  I’d want to avoid continuing to work while knowing it was the wrong decision for the overall health of our household – for my capacity to mother our kids the way I felt God desired, our family life, my marriage, my soul.  I’d hate doing it in a faithless way, knowing it wasn’t God’s plan for our family but feeling trapped.  For some, the money can actually distract from the core issues.  Several mom friends of mine earn an income sizable enough in their part-time work that it seems ludicrous to give it up (even if they can afford to do so).  Commenters call them crazy for even considering it – “the money’s so good and the schedule’s not too bad; surely it’s smartest to stay with it and make it work.”  Trouble is – what if the marriage, the children’s well-being, the mom’s soul are suffering?  What if God isn’t in it, despite the money? 

–Priorities.  One struggle with being a part-time working mom is maintaining God’s priorities: God first, marriage second, kids third, everything else after that.  When life gets intense due to work demands, all that goes out the window.  My quiet time is the first thing to go, the day becomes centered around when I’ll accomplish the work that calls, and kids accommodate to that schedule.  Often I’ll work in the evening during the time I’d normally spend with my husband… or else be so maxxed out by evening that I turn in early.  Too much work-juggling and suddenly it easily becomes work first, kids/household second, marriage and God tied for third (or lower).  My priority list becomes theoretical only.

Consistency in childrearing.  When I had only one young child (0 – 2 years), finding alternate care for him when I worked was simple and doable. When we had another child and our eldest grew, the situation changed.  It became more logisitically complicated to accomodate babysitting (e.g., my mom could watch one baby if I had an overnight consulting trip, but not two.)  And it began mattering more that consistent, intentional training occur once our kids passed the infant/baby stage.  I’m not against babysitters and use them fairly regularly (3 – 5 times/month); I’m not a hovering mom.  But I do care enormously about the character development of our kids, and I want to be present and attentive to oversee their training in righteousness.   When a mom works 15, 20, 25 hours per week, her children are normally in other people’s care for a decent percentage of their waking hours.  Are they whining or disobeying?  Taunting their sister or peers?  Mouthing off?  She isn’t present to address these issues herself.  In some cases the alternate-care situation is perfectly suited to her situation – let’s say her babysitter is her wise and godly mother-in-law whom she trusts implicitly.  In other cases (as my case would be if I worked this much), such an ideal option isn’t available…  And this is where the prayer and consideration come.

–“Building my house.”  I’m a mediocre housekeeper, and creating an inviting home isn’t among my natural gifts.  But Prov 14:1 resonates with me anyway: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”  I know that, in the season of childbearing and childrearing, the task of building my house is the central call on my life and time.  What exactly that looks like is for God to dictate and direct – but whatever it looks like, it’s paramount.  “I have never met a mother who told me she willingly set out to tear down her house or her heritage with her own hands, yet many a mother has shared with me her regrets that she unwittingly did just that – because her misplaced priorities or divided heart kept her from doing what she needed to do for the sake of her children.”  (Sally Clarkson)  God forbid that I should allow, by neglect or by self-focus, this to happen to me or my household.

–Passion.  I’m not passionate about the content of my work, so it feels increasingly like a mental drain.  I have to make myself do it and utilize energy that I’d otherwise be spending elsewhere.  If I were passionate about it – say, if my compensated work were reading books and writing, activities that energize me – it would feel different.  The time I spent working would liven my spirit and energize me in a way that would – or more easily could – enlarge my soul and through this, bless my household.   

Every mom is different.  Every situation is different.  Each of us Christ-following moms is responsible to God for working through the dynamics of our own scenarios. I have enormous respect for my mother-of-preschooler friends who also work and do not in any way judge them.  My purpose here is to lay out some of my own reflections in case they may be valuable to others as part of a larger dialogue on this topic.

A few articles touching on this topic I found ponder-worthy:

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3 Responses to “Part-time working mom reflections, part III”

  1. Erin Says:

    THANK you for posting this – It has been SUCH a great read – I really appreciate your thoughtful insights. I feel like I may have prematurely posted my question about scheduling on the last post – sounds like it isn’t any easier with a job…phooey…

    Once again I find myself grateful to God that He so graciously accepts my dregs and praying for the where with all to give Him my All instead…

  2. heartpondering Says:

    Thanks for this comment too Erin.

    I thought you specifically, actually, and the part-time job you’re exploring when I wrote the “passion” bullet in this post. Because the job you’re considering seems to encompass two of your passions – drama & youth – and, from that standpoint, could be a perfect fit for you. Could bless and enlarge you and therefore enrich your family through what it does for you (in a way that, as I mentioned, something like writing could and does for me but my compensated job typically does not).

    Your comment caused me to think of two other related things that I didn’t say in the post and could/should have:

    1 – The post made it sound as if my compensated work – and my response to it – was all negative and worrisome. It is not. The job I have is a gift from God that meets and fits the needs for my family at this time in our lives. So long as I continue to receive it in the amount and manner that He gives it (using boundaries and discipline to keep it that way), and so long as I continue to check in with Him to make sure it’s still His will for me – it’s a gift. It’s his provision. It is part of what comes from his hand… and hence, is good. I am thankful for it, even as I reflect and notice and ponder about what I see happening.

    2 (and related) – My experience has shown me that there are SEASONS related to the work God’s given me. When I first started my business and had no kids, I worked full time (plus). When Jed was 0 – 9 months, I worked about half that amount. At that point God pulled a client which caused me to scale back to one client… the same one I have now. The thing I’m praying through now is whether He wants me to continue on in the current fashion after baby #3 arrives in August (ie., with three kids under 4, would it be too much for me to manage?) Each season dictates something different, as He directs.

    This may be a season God would have you take on some part-time work in the form of this job you’re considering – and I completely encourage you to pray into this and see how God may direct.

  3. Jenny Says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. I have been working 20hr/wk and have a 3 and 1 y/o. I’m looking to quit my job for multiple reasons, but have had such a hard time actually making the decision. Your thoughts on a divided heart/mind really resonate with me. Thanks!


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