When I was a young mom, I vividly remember how all-consuming mothering was. Being home with my children was exactly where God had placed me, yet at the same time I knew that he was calling me to more. But ministry outside of the home can feel . . . well, impossible to a mom who can barely find time to take a shower!
My friend Rachel, mom to eight-month-old daughter Reagan, puts it like this: "I haven't left the house since Monday. It's Thursday. Between working from home part-time, taking care of my teething baby, trying to keep my house semi-clean, and getting dinner on the table, I can hardly find time to sleep, let alone actively participate in church ministry. It's not what I want, but it seems to be the reality of my life right now."
Being a mom definitely affects how and when you can serve, but it doesn't have to keep you from ministry altogether. Here are some practical ways to consider helping people outside of your home.
This season of life is all about small—small clothes, small toys, small people. So stick with that theme! Find small ways to reach people already in your sphere of influence. Invite a neighbor over for coffee or dinner. Schedule a Saturday morning playdate with a single mom from your child's preschool. Sign up to take a meal to a family struggling with illness. Volunteer to wash the linens from church nursery. Look around your community for little ways you can help and encourage the people around you. Big things can be accomplished through small acts of love.
Set realistic expectations
This season of life is overwhelming. There's a lot of love, a lot of tears, and a lot to do. Don't add to your to-do list out of obligation. Be intentional and realistic when you say yes. Love your kids, but you're not in love with children's ministry? That's okay! Say no to that invitation. Enjoy behind-the-scenes ministry and are crafty with knitting needles? Make tiny blankets for your local NICU while watching your favorite crime drama after your own little ones are tucked into bed. Not so crafty? Volunteer to come a little early every other Sunday morning to brew some coffee for the sleepy church-going set. We each have a unique calling within the body—find your calling for this season by identifying a ministry you can reasonably do with the time and the space your life situation allows.
This season of life allows for little alone time. (Yup, we know all about those fingers under the bathroom door!) So make ministry a family affair. Host a small group in your home and practice with your kids how to be hospitable. Or volunteer to help with the holiday food drive; you and your little ones can greet people as they arrive, collecting small cans and light bags of food. (Just leave the heavy donations to Dad!)
Do what only you can do
This season of life is unique and offers special ministry opportunities. Think about the experience you've gained since becoming a mom and the unique qualifications you now possess, and use that for reaching out to others with God's love. Maybe that looks like volunteering at a local pregnancy crisis center or helping to lead a moms group at your church (MOPS anyone?). Or maybe it means inviting the few stay-at-home moms from your apartment building or block to meet at the park so the kids can burn some energy while the moms engage in some adult conversation.
Just because you're a mom of young children doesn't mean the end of your ministry to others. Look at the incredible ministry going on each and every day behind the front door of your own home. Never lose sight of the impact you are making on the little hearts that are listening and watching you throughout the day (and night!). Ministry outside the home will probably look different than it did before you became a parent—and it will continue to change as your family grows in number or in age. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Take heart, Mom. You are in a beautiful, messy, difficult, and wonderful season of life—a season that will come to a close and open to a new season all too soon.