Over the past year and a half, we’ve added two children to our family. One is our adopted 18-month-old son and the other is our newborn daughter, just seven weeks old. It’s been a crazy adjustment, to say the least. We’re working each day to try and figure out life with two small children, plus an entire youth group. We know it takes balance and patience, but in all honesty it’s a struggle to make everything work. There are a lot of days we just want to run away! Here are four things we’re trying to focus on as we enjoy/survive youth ministry and a young family.
1. Be home as much as you can. Your kids will only be small for a short while. If there is ever a time to do a little less with youth group and a little more with family, it’s now. Talk with your senior pastor or supervisor about what church things are non-negotiable and where there is give in the schedule. Your spouse, your kids, and your ministry will benefit.
2. Find time to breathe. Everything changes when you have little kids, and it can be exhausting. Being exhausted can raise your tension levels and make you more easily frustrated or short-tempered. And it’s never a good idea to blow up at church or at home. So even though it’s difficult, really work with your spouse to carve out downtime for both of you to rest, relax, and breathe.
3. Prioritize time for your marriage. Your marriage came before your children and will be around long after they leave the nest, so it’s crucial to make time for it. Both your own children and the ones in your youth group will benefit. Make sure you spend as much one-on-one time together as possible and go out on dates, even with a new baby. Say yes to those church ladies who want to babysit and take time for yourselves.
4. Include your children in the ministry. Teens today desperately need to see healthy families and loving, involved fathers and mothers. When appropriate, bring your children with you to an event or meeting. Involve the youth groupers in playing with and taking care of younger children. And as an added bonus, babies are a great way to attract the attention of new students!