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Each of my children have been born during different phases of being in the ministry. As a pastor’s wife, I have had to participate in many church events with my children in tow at a variety of different times of the day and night. This has forced an element of flexibility into our lives, despite wanting to give our kids structure. I wanted to write a success story focusing on this, because I have a heart for women trying to be mom’s in the ministry.
When my oldest was born, we were youth pastors. This meant Wednesday nights were late, as well as special events on the weekends and then camps in the summer. Therefore, I set the schedule to start later in the morning, so that we could accommodate late evenings. We had an 8am wake up time, which allowed her “normal” bedtime to be 8pm but I could fudge it just a little and put her down at 8:30/9pm without disrupting our week. She got good at taking naps in a room off of our youth room or in my husband’s office. We purchased a Kidco peapod and she did great with that.
When my 2nd was born 18 months later, we were still youth pastors for the first 6 months. He was a very flexible sleeper. We still went to youth events on Wednesdays and added in small groups (growing to about 60 teenagers) on Sundays. Eventually these small groups took over our house which meant at about 3 or 4pm, teenagers would fill our house for games and fun and then small groups would happen in multiple rooms of our house with snacks and singing and the teens would be there until about 9/10pm (later even for the college aged at times)! My kids were amazing at getting up from nap to see a bunch of crazy teenagers, doing dinner in an abnormal setting, hanging out, then even going to bed at the normal 7:30/8pm with the full house. Yes, we used sound machines to help, but they learned to go to bed and sleep through any noises the youth may make. It was amazing. Looking back, I’m so impressed that my kids adapted so well to this setup!
I can attribute my confidence walking through this season to all I learned through Babywise. I learned the checks and balances of our schedule. I learned how to treat it like a deposit and withdrawal system when it came to consistency. If I knew we had a crazy week of evenings ahead, I would lay low during the days. I tried to pick and choose carefully what was important and what could be left out if the kids seemed to be on overload. I also set up a closet (large closet) with toys so they could do “room time or sibling time” during youth or Sunday services at the church. There was even a time (when my oldest was about 6-12 months) that we did blanket time on the stage while I helped lead youth worship (and YES she stayed on the blanket the whole time!)! All of the elements of Babywise helped keep our kids in good behavior and adapting well to our life in the ministry.
We then began a transition out of that church as youth pastors and my kids had to learn a whole new kind of flexibility as we moved in with my in-laws. This was NOT a fun experience, but if I had not been doing Babywise and being structured and proactive, I would not have survived it. We stuck to our routine and made it through a whole year of living in someone else’s house with two young children. Living in someone else’s house means dealing with their loud noises early and/or late at night, disruptions to sleep, lack of respect for Independent Playtimes, and a whole slough of other issues. Regardless, we survived and I thank Babywise for a lot of it!
I had our youngest while living there and she had severe reflux and feeding aversions (and that’s a whole other story) . She still actually STTN at the same age that my others did (8/9 weeks) and slept great with the exception of flares and feeding issues that occurred (which did happen often, but when we solved her problems even ever so slightly, she bounced back to sleeping well immediately, no bad habits to fight!). We have had a long journey to work through with her, but she is an AMAZING sleeper and I attribute that to the consistency I’ve learned in Babywise.
As we have gotten to transition back into living in our own home, each of our kids are incredibly flexible in many ways and thrive off of routine and independent play times. In fact, my son (middle child) recently asked for room time when we had a bunch of company and he was feeling overwhelmed. I was so proud of him for asking, which shows that he’s learned a good tool to use if he’s feeling overwhelmed or out of place! We have also transitioned to a new church and new type of ministry and all 3 of the kids (now ages 1, 2.5, and 3.5) have adapted well to our new ministry and church schedule.
So, I share my little glimpse into our life to say that if you are in the ministry, you CAN still do Babywise. Yes, things are different on Sundays being at church all morning and Wednesdays doing services and then even Saturday night services (which we have at our newest church we are in!) and the random other events that come up. But your kids can learn to be flexible inside of the structure that you provide and even learn to nap in random places regularly. You can completely create the consistency that these things are a part of your life on a regular basis and just insert them into your schedule.
If you ever want to talk the logistics of ministry and Babywise, I’m completely open to it! I know it’s hard to figure out how to do it, but it is not impossible! Please feel free to contact me anytime!