Being a mom who works outside the home is tough. (Yes, being a SAHM or WAHM mom is tough, too, in ways all their own. But that’s a topic for another day.) It’s tough to leave your kids, it’s tough to juggle everything, and it’s tough to deal with the constant “mommy guilt” you feel about working.
You know what doesn’t help? All the Christian authors and speakers who tell you that being a “good” Christian mother necessitates staying at home full-time. I understand where they’re coming from – motherhood is a full-time job, and it’s difficult to do it well with another full-time job on top of it. Difficult, yes, but not impossible.
Though every mother is different, and ultimately each of us needs to be obedient to God’s call for our own life, I absolutely believe you can be a “good mom” and work outside the home. How do I know that? Because I was raised by one of them.
This post is going to be part ode to my mother – the best working mom I’ve ever known – but also encouragement to all the moms out there who are afraid that working outside the home means they can’t have an effective ministry to their children. Because I’ve seen first-hand that you can do both.
I hope you enjoy and are encouraged by my reflections.
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A Quick Word About Titus 2:3-5
Whenever I’m trying to figure out where I stand on an issue, I always use the Bible as my source of Truth. I want my beliefs to be grounded on God’s Word, not man’s reason. So as I was being tossed around by other people’s opinions about whether moms should work outside the home, I asked myself what the Bible had to say on the issue.
Many proponents of stay-at-home-motherhood point to Titus 2:3-5 as their reason. This set of verses says the following:
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
I’m no Biblical scholar, but when I looked up the original Greek for the phrase “busy at home” (also translated “keeper at home” and “homemaker”), I learned that it came from two words that mean guard and dwelling. In other words, Paul is telling the older women to teach the younger women to 1) love their husbands, 2) love their children, and 3) guard their dwelling, or watch over their home’s activities. Essentially, this is homemaking, which, as I’ve said before, extends far beyond cooking and cleaning (though those are certainly part of it).
I don’t argue against the idea that women should be keepers of their home. And I do think that being a wife to their husbands and mother to their children should be a priority. But I don’t think it precludes working outside the home. I believe that you can do both and be a good Christian mom.
Here is why I believe you can, and a few ideas for how you can do them both well.
A Case Study of the Working Mom: My Mom
My mom worked outside the home as a math teacher in a public school. Yes, she had summers “off,” but believe me she earned it the rest of the year in early mornings with us in tow, late nights grading papers, and weekends working in her classroom.
In addition to her full-time job, she was also heavily involved in our church. Over the years, she helped in childcare, VBS, children’s programs, the worship team, and many other miscellaneous projects.
Throughout all of that, she still managed to fix family dinners at home (which, granted, weren’t always from scratch but were always complete and balanced meals), keep a neat and tidy home, and raise my sister and me in the Christian faith.
Her career was very important to her, and she was great at it. But her family was always more important to her, and she made the most of the time that she had with us. Working outside the home didn’t make her less of a mother; it simply made her a more efficient one. (More on that in a moment.)
What I Learned From My Working Mother
Here are a few lessons that I learned from my working mother.
Do your job with excellence
I watched my mom pour her heart and soul into her teaching. Teaching was not just a job for her; she cared deeply and passionately about what she did, and she was committed to doing it with excellence no matter who was watching or what kinds of kudos she received (which, as a public school teacher, I can tell you were not many.) I observed all this growing up, and learned the meaning of “working as though for the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23)
Have a passion for people
My mom has a servant’s heart, and I saw a great deal of this in the hours she spent helping her students succeed and the hours she spent volunteering at church.
The order of your priorities should be 1 – God, 2 – Family, 3 – Job.
I watched my mom live out these priorities in their proper order for years. Though she was passionate about teaching, she loved her family more, and God was ruler over it all.
How to worship with your whole life
My mom is a worshiper. I grew up watching her worship with her whole heart while helping lead from the keyboard, and her example influenced how I now lead on our worship team. But her worship also extended beyond the four walls of our church building. She worshiped God through her teaching, she worshiped God through her volunteering, she worshiped God through her homemaking, and she worshiped God through her mothering. Worship wasn’t relegated to a half hour on a Sunday morning; it was infused throughout her everyday life.
How to incorporate the Christian faith into every area of our lives
Similarly, she didn’t just teach us about God and His Word in designated devotion times (though we did do those) or rely on Sunday School teachers to do the job. She showed us that being a Christian is more than just going to church once a week – it’s continually walking in devotion and communion. I remember listening to her pray while she ironed, taking an ordinary, mundane task and turning it into a spiritual discipline. In such ways, she taught me that being a Christian was a way of life, not just a belief system. She may not have had hours to spend talking to us about the things of God, but her life so beautifully demonstrated them, many words were not necessary.
5 Tips for “Keeping Your Home” While Working Outside Of It
It’s definitely not easy maintaining your home while spending most of your day away from it. I do it part-time, so I get a glimpse of the struggle. Here are 5 tips that I’ve learned from my own (part-time) experience and from watching those – like my mom – who I’ve seen do it well.
Prioritize and decide what you can let go
No one can do everything. You cannot be an excellent wife and mom, a star career woman, a gourmet chef, a spotless housekeeper, a superior seamstress, and a red-hot lover. It’s just not possible. So decide what absolutely has to be done, and let go of the rest! (Be sure you consult God’s Word and your husband when deciding what your priorities should be!)
Train and delegate
Maybe some of the things on your list of priorities have to be done, but do you have to be the one to do them? Allow your family members to help, hire outside help, or find a device that will help you – like the smartest thing I’ve ever gotten for my housekeeping (and my sanity) — a Roomba! (Read my review for some important tips and tricks.)
Let go of the either/or thinking
It doesn’t have to be work OR raise your kids. You can work AND raise your kids by making the most of the time you have with them and incorporating faith and character training into your everyday lives.
Prep ahead of time
Cooking nutritious meals can be a real challenge when you work outside the home. Use evenings and weekends as much as possible to prep for busy weeknights. Check out this post for more tips for cooking real food when you don’t have time!
Related Post: 15 Make-Ahead Breakfasts for More Relaxed Mornings
Clean as you go
As far as housekeeping goes, I have found cleaning as you go to be a real game-changer for me. You won’t have to spend your precious weekends cleaning if you spend a few minutes a day on daily maintenance. Because who wants to clean when you could be spending time with your family?
Related Post: 7 Habits I Wish I Would Have Adopted Years Ago
I know this was a long post, and I’m so grateful that you stuck with me to the end. But I really wanted to encourage those of you feeling guilty about jobs that are important to you. Being a SAHM, while certainly a noble pursuit, is not a prerequisite for being a “good Christian mom.” By keeping your priorities in line and making wise use of your time, you absolutely can be a good mom and work outside the home, IF that’s what God has called you to do. I should know, I was raised by one of the best.
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