By Rosalynne Martin
According to Pew Research, 29% of mothers do not work outside of the home. Some women are praised for their sacrifice to stay home. Other women return to work after having a child to help with the financial needs of the family out of necessity. Which is right? Each family has to decide which is the best option for their family.
In a matter of months, I went from working full-time in my career to receiving a newborn placement through adoption and finding out I was pregnant. My husband and I had to make a rapid decision for me to become a stay-at-home mom. It was clear that this was the best choice and it was probably one of the best decisions we could have made for our family. However, most of my friends were already parents or working, so what was I supposed to do? A new adventure was upon us and we had to navigate through this season of life.
As I reflect back on the years of not working outside of the home, there were five things that encouraged me on my Stay-At-Home-Mother (SAHM) missional motherhood journey.
One way to “get connected” is to join a weekly women’s small group Bible Study. This was such a great avenue for me to meet other stay-at-home moms and women who were like minded. Proverbs 27:17 tells us “Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” and the weekly fellowship with godly women sharpened my walk and relationship with the Lord. I can remember the first time I attended a Bible study, I did not know anyone. I went anyway and I am thankful that I did not allow fear to keep me from meeting some wonderful ladies. Our Bible study also provided childcare and my children were also learning God’s Word. I recently heard a pastor say “Everyone needs a small group, even Jesus had one”. Jesus had His disciples and they took care of each other. Eventually, I joined a discipleship group as well and within this group we met weekly to study the Bible, to memorize scriptures and to pray together. These connections were essential for my spiritual growth.
Second…Date Your Spouse Regularly
Who doesn’t love “Date Night” when you become a parent? A meal or time when you and your spouse can enjoy each other without interruption of the children. In order for us to regularly have a date, we set aside a time when our children were in Mother’s Day Out. We started a “Friday Lunch Date” when our children were very young and we still have a weekly lunch date many years later. It is a time where we spend talking about our week or what we plan to do during the weekend. My husband has even committed to working this weekly lunch date around his work meetings so it is a priority! These simple dates have enriched our marriage and have encouraged other couples to spend time together.
Living on one income takes working together and sacrifice. Thankfully, a few years prior before I became a SAHM, we paid off all of our consumer debt with the exception of our home mortgage. This made the transition much smoother. Creating and sticking to a budget/spending plan is crucial because it easy to wander into debt but harder to wander out. Philippians 4:11 conveys contentment, “For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances”. Being content also allowed me to enjoy the simpler things in life and hopefully my children have learned that lesson as well.
Serving others in church and outside of church made an impact on my life when I was not working outside of the home. Whether it was serving as a VBS teacher, a nursery worker or a volunteer for a local charity, serving gave me a place to use my gifts for the benefit of others. In I Peter 4:10, Peter tells us that “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Even though our hands are full at home with children, we can still serve others no matter how great or small.
Fifth…Pray and prepare for the next steps in your children’s education
When you have preschoolers, it is amazing how the days of exhaustion seem like they will never end, but even so, time does not stop. Before you realize it, your children will be headed to kindergarten. I was a SAHM until my children reached kindergarten, then I returned to work part-time. There is not a specific time to begin preparing and praying for school decisions, but I wholeheartedly believe you should pray sooner than later. There are several options – public school, private school, and homeschool – once again, it’s a decision that you have to make for your own family. These options should be prayed over so that you will be prepared when the time comes to make the final decision. Listing the pros/cons of each option, taking tours of schools, talking with other parents in your church and neighborhood will help you gain insight as you consider your options. We personally chose public schools for our sons’ elementary education and will pray and evaluate each level as we go. We have tried our best to cover our decisions in prayer and look to the Lord for wisdom. “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).
My prayer is that my time away from my career as a SAHM mother has had a godly impact on my children and our home. There were many days of exhaustion due to the constant care and daily home responsibilities, but I would not change any moment that I was able to share with my children. I am thankful for these five practical ways that helped enjoy the early years of my missional motherhood journey.
In closing, Proverbs 11:25b promises “…Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” My challenge for you is to refresh another SAHM this week. It could be a call, a cup of coffee, an offer to watch her children for an hour, a package of diapers….Serve another sister-in-Christ and watch the Lord work!