Becoming a full-time mom after my second child was born was not my best season of life. I missed my work as an InterVarsity campus staff worker—a job I loved deeply. And I was jealous of my husband, Brian, because he still got to share appetizers and do Proxe Stations and have great conversations with college students while I was changing diapers and reading Amelia Bedelia ten times in a row.
Now that my youngest is two-and-a-half, I’ve been able to return to work very part-time. But, amazingly, I’ve actually come to appreciate the great things about staying home with my two kids and all that that entails: swimming at the warm pool at the Y, visiting the aquarium, and even playing inside when it’s -10 degrees outside (a common occurrence in Duluth)!
Even more amazing is the fact that we’re choosing to add another child to our family. God has called us to adopt and we have obeyed. Bring on more diapers!
Committed to Home and Campus
As Brian and I juggle work and family, we continue to feel committed to effect change in both spheres—on campus and at home. By God’s strength and guidance, we’ve been able to do that—and even, at points, to thrive in the midst of it. Here are a few strategies that have been helpful to us in making both family life and ministry on campus priorities.
1. Get the kids involved in publicity. We made a sign for campus this fall and had our kids paint their feet and walk across it. It was the perfect addition to our art project. Afterward, my daughter said, “That was the most fun I’ve ever had!”
2. Eat on campus. We are currently doing a replant at a school, which means, among other things, that Brian is trying to hang out everywhere he can on campus all the time. So we eat bag lunches in the student union and dinner in the cafeteria. The kids love being in the “castle” (the main building on campus), the dining hall provides ample healthy (and cheap!) choices for them, and Brian and I get to have dinner with our kids and students. Bonus: We don’t have to do the dishes, and the students love hearing our kids’ happy voices as they play hide and seek around the cafeteria.
3. Bring the kids with you! Sometimes, when Brian is out of town, I bring the kids along with me to large group. I’ll pop in a movie for the kids or ask one or two students to keep them during the 35 minutes of my talk. The rest of the time they sing, sit on students’ laps, and open doors for conversations that otherwise may not have happened. Similarly, Brian will take them along to events like pancake outreaches on campus when I have my women’s Bible study. As a result, our kids start to say things like, “Oh, I know Paul and Andy” when we are praying and talking about campus life at home. They feel more involved and less frustrated.
This has even worked as I’ve started to do more training for new InterVarsity staff. Colleagues found housing for all four of us during the last bit of some training I was leading in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Our host family loved having our kids around so much that they allowed them to take a bath in their master-bath Jacuzzi!
4. Sometimes, don’t bring the kids with you! I have a very close, amazing girlfriend who does babysitting swapping with me every Friday. Brian and I also pay a friend to watch the kids on Tuesdays so I can work. And we have a large pool of babysitters who are not on campus so that when we need help for weekend events, we are not pulling students away from the event!
Whenever I leave and the kids are having a hard time, I do feel a twinge of “ick.” But then when I come home from work, it’s with a sense that I was in the right place.
5. Do all kinds of ministry as a family. We don’t just do campus ministry together. We also host a church small group in our home every Wednesday night. We volunteer at a homeless shelter downtown. We adopt a family to bless at Christmas. Doing ministry together makes it a normal part of life, not just “work.”
6. Practice disciplines. I used to study, read, ponder, journal, and enjoy long quiet times and study days. That doesn’t happen very often now. But I do still make time for those things. Sometimes it means the kids have quiet time in the middle of the afternoon so I can do my Bible study (though more often it means I stay up late). Other times I listen to worship music or Scripture during the day while we go about our business. Brian and I also take time away from our kids to do retreats.
It also means I set aside time to do things I enjoy. I am a communicator; if I’m not doing that consistently, part of me dies. So I set aside time to blog. And I go to the Y. I get my workout in while the kids get their swim lessons or playtime in.
Developing World Changers
Sometimes when I’m at home, I wish I were on campus. Other days, the opposite is true. But instead of feeling like a failure in both, I can receive the affirmation I feel from the Holy Spirit to keep doing both.
I don’t know how all working moms or couples do it, but I know that at the end of the day, I am committed to both my family and my campus being transformed by Jesus—and becoming world changers.
Sandi is an evangelist for Jesus, cloth diapers, and fair-trade chocolate. She has been on staff with InterVarsity for 15 years in various campus ministry, training, and teaching roles. She and her husband, Brian (an InterVarsity area director in northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin), love to enjoy Duluth, Minnesota, with their two kids, Calista and Elam.