Jennifer responds:As I prepare to balance motherhood and ministry for the first time, I could use some guidance from others who have brought babies to work with them. I work as the associate at a church that has been very supportive throughout my pregnancy and the negotiation of my paid parental leave (8 weeks). When I asked our senior pastor if it would be okay to officially “work from home” some after the baby arrives (which I already do) he said, “Of course! And I’m assuming you’ll bring the baby to work some, too, right?” I feel so fortunate to work in such a supportive environment.
I am planning on taking the baby with me to the office for about 6 hours a week (two three-hour shifts). I will use this time to do e-mails, etc. (not premarital counseling or other meetings!). My question is, how should I handle this new situation with the rest of the congregation? Should I mention to the pastoral relations committee or the church council that this is what the senior pastor and I have worked out? Should I ask someone else for permission (in our situation I am supervised by the senior, but called by the congregation)? Should I tell the whole congregation about the set-up in a newsletter article or something? Also, we do have a monthly finance meeting that I’d like to attend but it will be when the baby is with me. Any tips for handling the baby in a meeting?
Thanks for your help as I wade through this. I would also covet any general tips about taking a baby to work!
I, too, was fortunate to have a supportive environment in which to bring my children to work when they were babies.
How great that your head of staff is encouraging you to bring your new baby to work!
I think your instincts are great--- why not ask the moderator of the Finance Committee if you might bring your baby to that meeting, on a trial basis, since you’re all new at this! I think that sharing the news with the congregation is fine, too, especially in a way that feels comfortable to the congregation. You’ll know your setting best to determine if you’re the bearer of the news, or if the senior pastor or the pastoral relations chairperson can most effectively communicate what will, hopefully, be happy, happy news.
Blessings!Ruth, who blogs at Sunday's Coming, writes:
My ‘baby’ is now 15 years old & I’d been ordained just under a year when I had her. My experience has always been share, share , share – I have always tried to let people know how I’m doing the balancing act, so when I would have her with me, what any arrangements are, when I need to leave by for feed/bath/bed time, etc, etc – and people have always responded with deep generosity and love. I think the churches I was at when she was smallest almost enjoyed her more than I did, and she just loved being passed around & getting all the cuddles and smiles from everyone in the room.
As for meetings : I always tended to sit by the door (In case you’ve just got to go out for everyone’s sanity!), explain at the start of the meeting that I would possible stand & sway if she got a bit fractious, or walk about, or else go out altogether, and I always made sure I had ‘stuff’ to distract her – milk, food, cuddly toys.. Later crayons, paper, quiet games, etc.
I hope I’m always tolerant of others who are now in the boat I was in, but I turn into a grumpy old woman if people expect children to be quiet but don’t give them anything to do – just expect them to sit there!
I hope you enjoy the mad roller-coaster of motherhood and ministry – and may you be blessed with a congregation of extra grannies, grandads, aunties & uncles!
And revhoney offers:
I’m glad that your are serving in a supportive environment. There are few gifts greater than that in a team ministry!
My office was large enough and off the beaten path enough that I could bring our sons to work with me when they were infants. I set up a “Pack-n-play” in my office, and was able to devise a schedule that allowed me to get the kind of office work you referenced done while they slept. Our sons nursed when they awoke, stayed awake for awhile, nursed again, and then slept. So I brought them to work toward the end of their waking moments, nursed them, and then they slept for 2 or more hours. The older of our two boys worked well with this schedule until he was nearly seven months old; the younger until he was about five months old.
We were blessed to have a home-based caregiver a block away from the church. We were also blessed to have homebound members who wanted to meet the boys – a few of them were more concerned about me bringing the boys to visit than bringing them communion!------
It's encouraging to read these stories of clergy mothers being supported within the church! I think I would have had the same freedom to bring my babies to the office, except I simply couldn't manage it with twins. I did find that whenever I was upfront about my needs, I was met with a lot of caring and support.
I think the matriarchs have offered some good advice about how to proceed - what do the rest of you think?
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