The most frequently asked question I get is “How do you juggle it all?” Once I figure out the answers, I hope to write a book! But here’s a short insight for now:
I went part-time in my career for 4 years. I worked 3 11-hour days. This gave us a solid paycheck, full benefits, and a good career. My cousin lived with us and watched the kids the days I was at work. When I was home, I watched the kids. When I went back to full-time, we got an au pair to help with the childcare responsibilities. This was a *genius* move that gave us the time we needed to fulfill our responsibilities, enriched our children’s lives, and provided the opportunity to disciple someone up-close-and-personal.
Niki is engaged in full-time ministry pastoring the church. He also serves as legal counsel and policy advisor (volunteer position) for an organization in the area that combats human trafficking. He also takes several missions and ministry trips a year (8-10). And he is involved in leading a couple start-up businesses, as well as an international development organization. There have been times I’m more engaged in ministry (preached most of 1 year, taken ministry trips, etc.). But since our fifth child was born, I’ve been less engaged with church and ministry than in the past.
Before going part-time, we had the kids in full-time daycare for awhile. That allowed me to work full-time while also giving Niki the time he needed to do ministry, but it also cost a ton of money (later for about a year or so, Niki watched the kids at home during the day). There have been seasons where we have been more and less involved with the operations and ministry of the church. We focus on raising up ministry leaders, so when we’ve needed to pull back, we’ve had people who step in to help us. Between job demands, difficult pregnancies, parental leave, the loss of a baby, etc., life sometimes has required less energy/focus on ministry.
We try to keep our ministry-related commitments to less than 3 a week, including Sunday. So that means no more than 2 evening appointments, counseling times, etc. during the week. We found that gives us enough space for family time and down time, too. Sundays are pretty busy. We tend to stack a lot of ministry on Sunday and have set the kids’ expectations that Sunday is the day we all serve others at church. It’s not just mom and dad who serve and pastor – they are making sacrifices, too. We set boundaries around Sabbath time – Friday night is family dinner and movie night. And Saturday we don’t do any work. No homework, no church ministry, no chores. It’s just rest, delight in God, and have fun as a family time. It took me several years to cultivate the discipline of rest, but now I really couldn’t live without it. This down day is essential to juggling it all.