As pastors’ wives, we’re unlike most other women in the congregation attending church with their families. When the church gathers for any reason—Worship, Vacation Bible School, AWANA, Business Meeting, even a simple fellowship meal—our husbands are working. Just like any other dad at work isn’t available to take care of his kids, so our husbands at work aren’t available to take care of our kids.
In other words, when the church gathers, the kids are our responsibility.
This fact has cause me to grumble more than once over the years, especially when my children were small. But I’ve discovered some ways to make “being the mom” at church a little less overwhelming:
- See the value. When I recognize that me doing my job as Mom enables my husband to minister to God’s people, I see the Kingdom value in the hours I spend giving time-outs and wiping runny noses.
- Check the pace. Remember my first tip: “Be clear on your priorities”? If I overbook myself with church commitments, I may well jeopardize one of my most critical priorities–mothering my children so my husband can do his job. If I’ve agreed to teach Children’s Church and my kids get the stomach flu, it’s not like my husband can skip out on preaching and take care of them. It’s probably easier, especially with young children, not to take on weekly responsibilities. If I really want to take on such a role, I need to make sure I have a sub on call for when I need to miss.
- Talk to the kids. It helps when I explain to the children that Daddy has a special job as pastor. He loves them and will play with them at home later, but it’s his job to take care of the people when at church. It also helps when I explain the guidelines for church: Mom will be the one who drops them off/picks them up from any activity/teaching time; they’ll sit with Mom in the service; they should come to Mom for anything they need while at church.
- Establish consequences. Being the pastor’s wife doesn’t mean I become a single mother whenever another church member enters the building. Certainly, in some circumstances, my husband can and should help with the kids. But those circumstances can’t be the norm. My kids, sinful as they are, sometimes test me at church simply because “Daddy’s working” and they think they might get away with it. To preempt those times, my husband and I long ago established a rule for our kids: “If you misbehave so Mom has to discipline you at church, Dad will discipline you at home as well.” In other words, our kids get twice the punishment for any infraction at church. It’s unbelievable how much easier that one rule has made my job!
- Set a schedule. Being the mom every time the church gathers can be exhausting. Just as my husband needs a regular day off, I need regular time off as well. So I work with my husband to schedule my own much-deserved breaks and/or get a sitter so we can take a break together.