Balance matters in our work, and because our work is biblical, so should our pursuit of balance.
God established a rhythm of work and rest in creation (Genesis 1:1-2:2), called us to play multiple roles in our work, family, and the church (1 Corinthians 12:27), and even spoke on the importance of understanding the seasonality of life (Ecclesiastes 3:1). All of these point to the importance of pursuing and maintaining balance.
As we get closer to celebrating Mother’s Day, we sat down with some working moms in our Workmatters network to hear from them about how they’re pursuing a healthy work-life balance as both Christians actively transforming their workplaces and moms actively transforming their homes.
“Give yourself some grace,” said Kali Davis, vice president of Harvest Group, when asked about what advice she would give her younger self. “As a high achiever, I put so much pressure on myself to be everything to everyone. There is no way that is possible, and it is not consistent with the life of freedom that Jesus calls us to.” Sarah Cunningham, a team leader at Harvest Group agreed with Davis’ statement, “Relax and be kind to yourself. No one expects more from you than you expect from yourself.”
Missha Wagoner, DaySpring’s Human Resources Director, shared some wise words as well. “Give yourself permission to jump in the mud puddles. As a young parent, I was determined to have the cleanest, smartest, most creative, active, advanced, well-dressed children. You know, Robots. I told myself it was for their good. I desired for them to be the ‘best they could be’ when, in actuality, I was more concerned about what others would think of me if they weren’t.”
“If I could just go back and take the time to jump with them in a big ol’ sloppy mud puddle, to see their smiles and hear their giggles. Let the cool, muddy water seep into their tennis shoes and pant legs. To allow the imperfect. To instill in them the belief that even though life can be dirty, wet, and sometimes even a little stinky, there is joy, and it comes from the heart of a Father who cleans up our mess with His love. Look to Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
These moms also illustrated how their perception of being a working parent had changed after becoming working moms themselves. “Before I had children, I thought I would receive more physical and emotional support,” shared Jackie Johnson, Director of Growth at Workmatters. “The reality is, with each child you are actually obtaining a new full-time job and your most reliable support will always be from the Lord.
A common trend among all moms was the open line of communication between them and everyone in their household, including their kids. “We use a weekly family meeting to review the schedule for the next week. This makes sure that my husband and I are setting expectations for our kids and allowing them to ask questions and feel heard. We also try to give them choices throughout the week that makes them feel in control,” commented Davis.
The same was applicable in the Johnson and Cunningham households too. They mentioned making time for weekly meetings and monthly calendars with names and upcoming events. Sarah commented on the importance of open communication during these meetings, “Some weeks or seasons are busier than others. Make sure you ‘talk it out’ and be open about your stressors and let each other know that we might need a little extra help and grace if there is something big upcoming.”
Like many other working parents, Missha says she used to think she “could do it all and have it all, all at the same time.” After years of actively pursuing this and failing, she realized that we just can’t do it all and have it all, which helped alleviate some of the anxiety she has felt over the years over not being enough. If I had to guess, Missha isn’t the only working parent who has struggled or is currently struggling with this feeling.
She continued, noting the importance of talking about our stressors and anxieties, “I learned it was much more important to discuss the feelings around a less-than-wonderful situation than the details. It’s the emotions that can become the most toxic to us as individuals if we don’t recognize them. And as an added bonus, your kids will learn to identify their feelings, and you become a safe place for them to share.”
It’s evident through these testimonies that pursuing work-life balance isn’t easy. We must be intentional, respectful, and remember to give ourselves (and others) grace. As you go about your day, here are some practical tips to consider from these four working moms:
- BE REAL. Be open and honest about how hard it is to work and mom well. Sharing authentically is a lifeline to other parents who are struggling. The worst thing we can do is pretend that we have it all together. I feel like I fail every day, but I know I am giving it my best and Jesus is there to pick up the pieces.
- BE MINDFUL. Pause and take a deep breath and pray intentionally over your circumstances. Different seasons of life call for different things. Find scriptures to support you and meditate on them daily.
- SET BOUNDARIES. Start with establishing what matters most to you. Founder and CEO of The Abiding Network, Nate Sweeney says, “look at your resources: time, treasures and talents, and how God wants to use them. ” Layer over that what the season of life you are in. Then, decide what matters most to you in this season and focus your resources on those things. People miss that there is even more power in the things you say ‘no’ to as things you say ‘yes’ to.
- BE OKAY WITH IMPERFECT. Allow yourself the freedom to be imperfect and don’t take on others’ opinions on how you should live your work-family balance, but form your own strategy based on God’s word and direction. Bring your family along with you as you build your strategy, so they can offer their support or suggestions. Ask the Lord what is the next step and trust Him to know what’s best for you.
We’d love to hear from others about what pursuing and maintaining a work-life balance looks like for you and your family or circle of friends! Follow us on Instagram @myworkmatters and send us a message sharing some of your experiences.