The Bible is full of examples of godly working mothers, and if He’s called you to work outside the home, the Lord will empower you to balance work and family. But if you’re crying in your cubicle, we need to talk.
“I remember the first day I went back to teaching,” says Shauna Brentana, a tenured teacher who took maternity leave after the birth of her son, Matthew. “I dropped off Matt at the sitter’s house, and I went to school.
“Everything that used to be important [as a teacher] suddenly felt meaningless. I thought I’d get used to being away from Matt, but my students got my best every day, and I missed my son.”
If Shauna’s experience sounds familiar, let’s explore your options and see if God might be leading you out of the workplace and into the home. “Full-time mom” is as valid a career title as any other, and that may be just the job description God has in mind for you.
As any economist will tell you, what is important is not what you make but what you spend. Many working couples assume — because they’re barely making ends meet now — they’ll go under if one of them stays home with the kids.
Maybe, maybe not.
When I went through my own parental panic, my brain said, Forget it. Staying home will never work. But when I actually got out the calculator, I realized that after I subtracted all the expenses related to my job — day care, transportation, clothing, eating out, taxes, etc. — I was only clearing $39 a week!
I asked my husband, “Can you pick up an extra $39 a week in overtime?” He said yes, and I headed home.
From home, I could more easily manage our budget. I had time to cut coupons, shop sales, cook more and plan purchasing strategies. I also became a master garage saler. On a regular basis, I saved my family much more than the $39 I used to bring home.
You need your husband’s support. Don’t whine, cry or bully him into letting you quit your job. Instead, show him on paper exactly how you’re going to make the at-home situation work. Here are items to include in your plan:
- A mission statement: Why do I want to be an at-home parent, and what do I want to accomplish?
- Roles: What duties will each of us perform?
- Budget: How will we manage?
- Lifestyle changes: What are we willing to give up, and what is non-negotiable?
- Parenting goals: How will my increased availability affect our children’s self-esteem, discipline, schooling, etc.?
Moving from the workplace to the home front often requires a bit of training. What should your priorities be? Don’t all the best at-home parents cook from scratch and home school? How do you survive 24 hours with a toddler?
Neighborhoods used to be filled with stay-at-home moms. Now we need to find other full-time moms and learn together. Take your baby to the park during normal business hours. If another mom passes you pushing a stroller, strike up a conversation.
Hit the local library during story time. Check Christian small groups for moms to see if any meet in your area.
You are not alone. The Boss who called you into this field will provide the resources you need to make it a success.
Remember your job is temporary. Kids grow up, priorities change and God may someday nudge you to re-enter the workforce outside the home. To improve your future marketability, consider the following:
- maintain present business contacts
- continue current memberships in professional organizations
- renew necessary certificates or licenses
- maintain proficiency in your skills while developing new ones
Of course, Christ is the best Networker of all, so trust Him with your future.
“The Lord used lots of overlapping circumstances to help me embrace motherhood for all God intended it to be,” Shauna says.
Keep your eyes open for those memos from Upstairs. There might just be a transfer on your horizon.
This article appeared in Focus on the Family magazine.
Copyright © 2005 Focus on the Family.
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