Regular readers of the blog will know that I’ve recently gone back to work part time after maternity leave. I’ve written before about how grateful I am to be able to work part time, and I’ve been determined not to let work creep into my days off. To that end, I made myself a weekly plan, allocating specific time slots for planning and marking, and also allocating some time for blog work and other things. Of course, all this happens when Samuel is asleep and Ben is at school, or in the evenings when they are in bed.
Sometimes, it feels like I’m doing a lot of juggling.
It’s quite hard not to get overwhelmed. It’s hard to remind myself on my days off that I should just enjoy my children. And I do. I love the chance to play, to go to baby groups, to be there to pick Ben up from school. I enjoy being at home, despite all the cleaning I feel I need to get done or the decorating or gardening that we never seem to get the time to do.
I frequently have to remind myself that it’s my choice to live like this. It’s my choice to blog, to volunteer, to do things for my church, to attend small group. It’s my choice to try to improve our home and garden.
But one thing I have done, which has made a big difference in my week, is to carve out some time for a proper quiet time with my Bible.
If I’m honest, this is something that I have really struggled with since having children. I haven’t prioritised it. I have tried to do it just before bed when I’m too tired, or have planned to do it first thing in the morning – but then the children wake up before 6am.
So on a Monday, as soon as Samuel has his nap, I get out my Bible and sit down for a proper read and pray. The house is quiet and I can focus.
The thing is, now that I’ve made the time, God is really speaking to me.
It isn’t a long amount of time – around 20 minutes, and I’ve found myself really looking forward to it.
Anyway, over the last few weeks, I’ve learned a lot about what God says about work life balance, and I’d like to share it with you. I really hope this is ok. I’m a bit nervous about sharing faith stuff on the blog, but it’s one of the challenges I’ve set myself in my 35 before I’m 35, so here goes!
What does the Bible say about Work Life Balance for Christian Women?
I started off by looking at Proverbs 31: 10-21. This can be quite an intimidating passage for mums, especially if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, as it talks about The Wife of Noble Character. This model wife works really hard. She gets up while it is still night, provides food for her family, does the housework, does the farming, earns money, sews, sells clothes… The list goes on. Basically, she works really hard, she’s industrious and looks after her family well. In return, her husband, children and in fact everyone at the ‘city gate’ praise her.
Often, as a Christian mum, I think there can be a bit of judgement if you do work – whether this is in or out of the home. This passage really encouraged me: this noble wife, who should be prized more than rubies, buys land and does business with merchants. She is praised for this. I think here, the Bible acknowledges that it is hard work. We’re not to be afraid of hard work, and we’re not to neglect our families by prizing our work above all else, but we use our work to bless our families.
I think the truth is that women do tend to do more of the day to day grind of managing the household. The mum-admin. The housework. The cooking and cleaning. The school and nursery pick ups. And this is in addition to working, for many of us. We are incredibly busy. The Bible acknowledges that. I found this both comforting and helpful: God sees how busy we are and how hard we have to work.
In Proverbs 31: 30, I found my memory verse for September: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
I have been finding this verse really helpful, especially when I scroll through my Instagram feed or my Facebook timeline. The fear of the Lord is the most important thing… Charm, and beauty, which our culture prizes so highly, are fleeting and insubstantial. God must come before all else.
A time for all things… creates balance
The following week, I looked at Ecclesiastes. I focused on Ecclesiastes 3, which is the famous ‘A time to be born and a time to die…’ passage, and these verses stood out to me:
“I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
The idea that finding satisfaction in our work is a gift from God made me think: we spend so much of our time – and I include myself in this – moaning about work, or complaining that it takes us away from the things we’d rather be doing. But actually, we have to find the satisfaction within our work – whether that is housework, looking after the children or employment.
Is God in the work?
Finally, this week, I looked at Psalm 127. This was actually suggested by Rachel over at Rachel Ridler:Mum on a Mission. Rachel does these brilliant ‘Mummy Meditations,’ and this was the verse she suggested on Monday.
Verses 1 and 2 were the key:
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
This actually spoke to me, not so much about my job work as a teacher, but about my blog work. I love blogging, and, like most bloggers, I hope to make a bit of a steady income from it. But it does consume a lot of my thoughts: would this make a good post? What if I did x? How can I grow…? In a way, blogging is like teaching: there is always more you could be doing. More social media. More posting.
So I prayed about it. It’s a big part of my life: why wouldn’t I pray about it? And over the last few days, I’ve seen loads of posts from other Christian bloggers, basically encouraging Christian bloggers to keep writing. Even when it seems hard. Even when it seems in vain. So I’m praying that this won’t be in vain.
Verse two – ‘In vain you rise early and stay up late…’ was a bit of a hard one. Samuel is going through a period of rising very early – 5am most days. Staying up late is often the only way parents get a few hours to themselves. So yes, if I could get more sleep, I would. But then I thought about ‘A time for everything’ in Ecclesiastes. So this is our time for early morning rising!
Bible Study: Work Life Balance for Christian Women
If you’d like to examine your own work life balance as a Christian woman, I’d recommend reading these passages and asking yourself the following questions.
How do you feel about hard work? Do you run from it or embrace it?
How can I make sure that I’m working to bless my family rather than working for the love of work?
How would you characterise the time of your life now?
Where in my life am I trying to do more than one thing at a time? How can I focus one one thing?
What is satisfying about my work? Where does it bring me joy? If it doesn’t, pray about it!
What are you ‘building’ or ‘guarding’? Is God in it? Is He blessing it?
Key Points – if you read nothing else, read this!
- God created us to work hard.
- There is a time and a season for everything. Don’t try to cover all seasons all the time.
- Don’t strive for something that is not of God, as it won’t work.
- God needs to come first, no matter what.
I would love to know your thoughts on work life balance – from a Christian perspective or from a non-Christian perspective. I’d also love to know what you think of me blogging about my faith – good and bad!