How to do Church as a Busy Working Mom

I love church. I was a youth ministry major, and thought I wanted to work in a church someday. However, the week before our wedding found me applying for a government job downtown, and now I've been there for five years! I love that my job gives me flexibility to work four days a week, and to take time off when I need it. However, being a busy working family has been hard on our church involvement.

Before we had kids, my husband and I were active youth group volunteers and made it to church most Sunday mornings. After J was born, we stepped back from volunteering for awhile, and our Sunday attendance dropped a bit. Since having our second baby, we've really struggled to be involved again. Sometimes it seems like we barely see each other as it is, and Sunday is our only day together as a family; not to mention, our only day to get house projects done, visit friends and family, etc. It's even harder to be involved on weekday nights, because the hubby gets off work at 6 downtown, and we barely have time to eat dinner and get the kids bathed and in bed. Excuses, excuses... I know. But it's hard.

Here are some of the things I'm learning about how to do church as a busy working mom:

1. Have realistic expectations. You will not make it every Sunday. Your baby will not always love being in the nursery. You will miss sermons while walking the halls or feeding your baby.

Image: lifecreations

2. Realize this is a season. Seek God and do what is best for your family in this season. Continually seek Him and ask Him where you can glorify Him most.

3. Step back if you need to. Pre-kids, it's so much easier to volunteer, attend Bible studies, host a small group. After kids, you might need to choose what's most important and step back from everything else for awhile.  

4. Find ways to connect with the other moms in church. If the church mom's group meets while you're at work, maybe you can join them on weekend playdates or for a mom's night out. Some of the ladies in our church do a freezer cooking club -- that's been a great way to spend some time together AND be productive!

5. Be yourself. If you are having an awful week and are stressed out, it's okay to cry through worship. When people ask how you're doing, be honest.

6. Plan ahead for Sunday morning: Get up early. Pick out clothes on Saturday nights. Choose an easy breakfast to serve. Plan to leave 10(+) minutes earlier than needed.

7. When all else fails, listen online! My church posts audio files of their sermons online, so when I miss a sermon, I sometimes catch up on my lunch break. :)

8. Find a flexible service opportunity. (This is the hardest one for me right now.) Can you bring your family to serve at a homeless shelter on a Sunday afternoon? Can you edit newsletters? Can you help in the nursery once a month? Can you mentor a teenager? I have been most blessed by my church when I have given back -- and I miss that. I don't want to serve out of guilt (or selfishness!), but out of true love for God and his church.  

9. Cut back on other activities and prioritize. As kids get older, it's easy to get caught up in ALL THE EXTRACURRICULARS. We plan to minimize our kids' involvement in other activities so that God, family and church can be the priority.  

10. Pray. Pray for your church, your pastors, your family, and ask God to show you your place in his church.  

What would you add? How can busy families stay involved in church? Have you struggled with your church involvement?

{This post is part of a series for (in)couragers. If you are a working mom, we would love for you to join our community here.}


Living free and forgiven

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8, 9 ESV)

I've always been a little hard on myself - the typical perfectionist oldest child, wanting to do everything the right way and make everyone happy. I recognized my guilt before God at a very early age, knowing I could never measure up to His perfection. The forgiveness and cleansing that were poured out on me when I decided to follow Jesus have set me free, and have followed me all my life.

But still, I struggle hard with guilt.

Some of my guilt is truly deserved. Even though I have been made a new creation in Christ, I still struggle against my old sinful motives, thoughts, and actions. It seems that having a family and growing in community have brought any hidden sinfulness into glaring light. I have been selfish, impatient, angry, bitter, wanting my own way. I have yelled, cursed and sulked. I've sought comfort in ice cream, sleep, and social media instead of in God. And I've made excuses -- it's just hormones/sickness/anxiety/stress/exhaustion that made me do it. No matter the excuse, I am guilty... so guilty.

My sin has been fermenting in my heart too long. I can't hide it anymore, can't excuse or place blame anymore. I confess: I was wrong. I have sinned against God, my husband, my kids, and so many more. Lord, cleanse me, forgive me...


Some of my guilt is self-imposed, unnecessary, Pharisaical. It comes from trying to live up to everyone else's expectations - and my own - instead of God's. It comes when I'm surrounded by stay-at-home-moms and feel awful that I can't spend as much time with my kids, can't keep up with my home as well, can't cook homemade meals as often. It comes when I read about missionaries doing amazing things for God, and I'm just doing my everyday work for Him. It comes when I make to-do lists for myself and never complete them. When I fall asleep on the couch instead of spending time with my sweet hubby. When I look at the dirt, dust, and crumbs on my floor and swipe something nasty out of my baby's mouth (again). When I turn on the TV for my 4-year-old so I can just get one thing done (or have a moment's peace). That kind of guilt seems to follow me everywhere.

But Jesus says I'm FREE (John 8:36).

So, am I to live however I want? On my journey to greater self-care, I've often felt selfish. It's been hard to figure out how to live freely, but not selfishly. And then yesterday, I read this:

"My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?" (Galatians 5:16-18, MSG, emphasis mine)

It's not about me, not about knowing what I want or "deserve". It's about knowing God, listening to Him, being led by Him alone.

Let's live free today, sweet friends. Have you been struggling with guilt? What are you going to do with it today?

{In case you need to hear it too... Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)}

This post is part of a series for (in)couragers. If you are a working mom, you are so welcome to join us here for encouragement, prayer, and community! I am so grateful for how this group of ladies has poured into each other's lives - they are such a gift.