Cornerstone

Practical Tips for Integrating Work and Family

“How do you navigate the practical aspects of balancing the high calling of a wife and mother with the constant phone calls from the office?”

In Parts One and Two of this series, we have looked at the theology of work and family and offered a framework for considering vocational choices in different life stages. Now, I want to really get down in the trenches for those who do any amount of gear shifting during the day between the job of "mom" and any other professional hat. How do you navigate the practical aspects of balancing the high calling of a wife and mother with the constant phone calls from the office?

I have only been at this now for four years, so I can’t speak to what it looks like as kids get older. Still, as my husband and I have continued these conversations through job changes and adding a second child, some recurring themes have surfaced that I hope can be helpful to you as well.

Schedule and Priorities

The first is a bit obvious, but I think worth stating. In as much as is possible, strive to “leave work at work.” Setting work boundaries is hard in a culture where profession is king and everyone around you is striving to get ahead. Fortunately for us, the Bible offers more than just an admonition to flee from the ways of the world. God is currently at work in our hearts to mold our priorities in line with his, so that we might genuinely desire what God deems valuable: 

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

As you contend with the inevitable scope-creep of your work, it may be worthwhile to say “no” to certain types of advancement that would require more of your time and energy than you can offer. This concept may not be as countercultural for millennials as perhaps other generations, but it will certainly turn heads. Promotions and new job opportunities are a great moment to revisit the questions of family and ministry that we discussed in Part Two.

In the day-to-day, I have found that my commute home is a good opportunity to turn off my “work brain” and consider how I might want to engage my kids in conversation or what might be a fun date night to plan with my husband. Some may benefit from a practical mindfulness exercise like mentally “closing the work door” every time you close your physical office door. If your office is also your home, it could help to carve out a different space for work than for engaging your kids (even if it's only a mental space). Find something that speaks to you personally and begin building that habit. Taking a moment to shift gears mentally clears the space so you can be fully present with your spouse, your kids, and also your friends and church community. This allows you to be more sensitive to recognize opportunities for loving and serving your family and also communicates how highly you value them. 

Time and Money

In the same way that you considered income as a factor in whether or not to work, using your income well for the care of your family and for ministry involves constant recalculation. If you are in a situation where your time as a family is more limited than your money, hiring a housekeeper or even buying pre-chopped vegetables at the grocery store can be a way to literally buy yourself extra time to invest in your husband and kids.

On the contrary, you may find that some household activities aren’t worth spending money to outsource. Instead they provide opportunities for teaching and quality time with your kids or spouse. Every child needs to learn the nuances of laundry and the KonMari method of folding. Enlist a junior prep cook who will chop as you chat. Take only one of your children with you to the store for a little one-on-one time and the special job of design (or dessert!) consultant. Sure, it may take longer to complete a task, but just as adult friendships are forged on a community service project, serving together as a family is good for the heart. These activities provide opportunities to “train up a child in the way he should go” by both modeling service and offering a context in which to discuss why we serve each other. Proverbs affirms that intentional training produces fruit in our children: “even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Support from Others

Finally, pursue community. I know quite personally how challenging this can be. Families struggling to balance work and childcare don’t need another item on the to do list. It’s hard to schlep everyone over to someone’s house each week when you have competing needs like homework or bedtimes,* but there is great personal payout to this investment. Living life with a community of believers looks like sharing burdens and bearing them together. This is a way in which we are called to sacrifice, and “so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), but it also works in our favor. I cannot tell you the countless times that I have been personally blessed by a more flexible family in our community group during seasons of particular chaos. These relationships take some time to build, but make a world of difference.


I hope some of these ideas provide a jump-start to your conversations about integrating work and family life. I would encourage you to grab a few friends and share ways in which you faithfully manage—and struggle in—the work God has given you. Once the conversation gets going, you will likely find a lot of personal peace in hearing that none of them are “doing it all,” and you’ll go home with a few practical ideas to boot.

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*Some Cornerstone groups have more flexible meeting times for this very reason. If you are interested in getting involved in a community group, we offer a map of locations with schedule information, or you can contact Pastor Matt at matt@cornerstonewla.org.

Meredith Storrs

Meredith serves Cornerstone with the Women’s Ministry and as a Global Liaison.

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