Why I DON’T “Get Out Of the House More”

{Note: This article has been updated from its original publishing in Dec. 2008.}

Why I Don't "Get Out of the House More" // jessconnell.com

Today I want to share the ethos behind some big choices of my life. I’ve lived as an at-home-on-purpose mom for the last 13+ years of my life because I believe this simple truth: as a mom of young children, the best place for me to be is at home.

There are two ways I mean that. First:

BEING AT HOME WITH MY CHILDREN

Me & Silas, 2008

Despite education and careers and opportunities and giftings and callings and dreams and side-hustles, the overarching, general truth most of us still know is this: children are happiest, healthiest, and best-looked-after when mom is home with them and engaged in their daily lives.

It’s strange that it’s politically incorrect to say that moms are needed. At home. To be there for their children.

No one has a problem with a boss who says things like, “Jim is the reason for this company’s success.” Or, of the secretary at the front desk: “Sandy holds this office together.”

No one gripes and says it’s demeaning for a worker to be needed in their job. But, society-wide, we feel weird and uncomfortable when someone says something that used to be such plain common sense that no one needed to speak it out loud: moms are needed by their children. 

As a society, we sacrifice schedule, health, time, sleep, evenings, weekends, absolute wardrobe freedom, our freedom to post whatever we want to on social media, and sometimes even our marriages and children, for our jobs… but heaven help the person who turns this broken system on its head and says that a woman who chooses to give up some years of her professional life to devote to the formation of young character and minds is doing an excellent thing.

There are always going to be voices telling us:

  • that we “need” to get out
  • that we can’t be mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually satisfied
  • that home can not be a personally-stimulating place
  • that our self-worth depends on having individual aims that are separate and distinct from who we are and what we do in our homes.

They tell us our kids need A, B, C, and L, M, and N, and X, Y, and Z, in order to be well-adapted, well-socialized, well-opportunitied, brain-using little citizens.

And all too often, we believe those voices.

My (now-9-year-old) daughter & I, 2008

Some take it so far to say that if we have a brain, we ought to be using it for society… that other people can raise our children for us (because that’s mindless work, and they’ll be fine!!), so that we can contribute to the surrounding community.

(As though raising hard-working, honest, kind, agreeable, God-fearing, respectful children isn’t a significant contribution!!!!! … But let’s stay on track, cause boy I could go off on a tangent here if I “stray but a little”).

Even the Washington Post is asking, Why does our society perpetually devalue people who care for others? 

Christians sometimes counsel young moms to get out of the home more so that they can participate in “real ministry.” Even in very godly circles, young moms can easily feel that what they are doing in their daily lives at home is not really the most faithful, godly thing they could be doing. 

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only…. to support the ultimate career.” ― C.S. Lewis

What kind of world is it, really, where women are:

  • encouraged to feel negatively about being home with the very people who need them most?
  • taught that the only jobs of real value are those which keep them from the greatest joys and delights of life?
  • made to feel that their minds are can only be fully used outside the home, serving people other than the family they love best?
  • thought to be in some way less when they choose to use their intellect and passion to infuse the minds of the next generation with a strong moral foundation, good common sense, and a broad, wise understanding of the world around them?

It is lousy, unbiblical advice that encourages women to abandon the God-appointed place of their sanctification and usefulness to Him. And for young moms, generally, that place is in the home.

G.K. Chesterton wrote these wonderfully encouraging thoughts:

When people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean.

When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean.

To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it.

How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?

No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

Interestingly, and far more importantly for my decision-making process, the Bible tells young women that they need to learn to be “working at home” and loving their children.

Women DO eventually reach an age when conceiving, bearing, and breastfeeding children is no longer feasible. But God has given the privilege of conceiving, birthing, and nursing children to young women, and it is only for a season. 

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Fall 2014- Ethan (12) with Doug & I

So I have chosen, over these 13 years, to again and again yield myself to this life-changing work of daily, up-close motherhood. Instead of an ever-increasing salary, and instead of working my way to the top of political offices, my work has been something very different.

My salary has been paid in

  • kisses and
  • dandelions and
  • foot rubs and
  • lazy walks and
  • snuggles and
  • “mama you’re so pretty”s and
  • leisurely conversations about books and art and economics and the sexual revolution and empires, and
  • satisfied smiles aimed at me, across the dinner table.

And contrary to the guilt-ridden messages I often hear about the competing interests that lay claim to women’s hearts in the wide world, I can tell you from this side of things: there is no underlying guilty feeling on my part for having made these choices. Rather, there is great peace and soul-rest in having made the choice to “sacrifice” my career so that I can invest in my husband’s and children’s hearts and lives in this way.

Not “getting out of our home more” has been a critical decision of my life, and it is already bearing fruit.

So then, you might be thinking, yes, yes, you stay at home, we all know that, so what?!

Well, there’s more… and while the last part may have been hurtful or offensive to those who don’t stay home, this part may just be an equal-opportunity offender.

Because this idea of “you should get out of the house more” being a terrible idea doesn’t merely apply to whether or not we are a “stay home mom”– it also applies to whether or not we actually *stay* home. What I’m driving at is this: when it comes to outside-of-the-home commitments, I say “no” an awful, awful lot.

ACTUALLY BEING HOME (I SAY “NO” A LOT)

“What do I say no to?” Well I’m glad you asked.

  • weekday Bible studies
  • co-ops (more often than not)
  • playgroups
  • fitness memberships
  • meetups
  • most community meetings and classes
  • clubs
  • trunk shows & private home sales “parties”
  • most library functions
  • most extracurricular activities for our kids

We could spend hurried heaps of time merely trucking back and forth to events that (by and large) my kids won’t even remember.

Not to mention

  • the hustle,
  • the words spoken in frustration,
  • the cost of eating out,
  • the cranky exhaustion that happens when little ones miss naps,
  • the extra expenses, etc.

Contrary to the go-go-go message communicated nowadays to young mothers, I don’t think the busying-up of our lives, and upping-the-stakes of our commitments, has done anything other than harm the fabric of our families. Collectively, our families are weaker than we were when our kids had less. Collectively, we are weaker than we were when their college applications had less notables written on them.

Let me be clear: Singularly, these things can be wonderful… beneficial, even. But on the whole, more often than not, they eat up our time… and time is the precious, ever-decreasing stuff life as a family is made of.

Truly, without much effort at all, I could be running all day every day, all week long. Instead, most often, I do what they counseled us to do in high school in regard to drugs– I “just say no.” On the whole, I’ve found that it’s best for us to be at home rather than running everywhere else. 

MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

As believers, our homes ought not be run according to the principles, wisdom, and priorities of the world. This is an easy trap to fall into, especially with spiritual events.

It’s difficult… young Christian moms are often actively encouraged to join groups like MOPS, ladies’ Bible studies, playgroups, or other fun weekday activities. Because of their husbands’ role, missionary and ministry wives may be pressured or expected to take on more church responsibilities than they should have while having young children at home. Young mothers who display any sort of spiritual depth may be asked to teach Sunday school classes, take on volunteer roles that eat up precious hours each week, head up ministries, or contribute time and energy to all manner of “good” things.

It can be hard to discern what God wants us to do when other people are so vocal in telling us what we “need” to be doing. It may require that we learn to say, and get good at saying, “no.” 

We may need to learn to graciously but unapologetically stand up for what God reveals in His word– that God’s general plan for young moms is to be doing the basics– loving their husbands, loving their children, exercising self-control, living purely, and working at home, offering kindness to others and submission to their own husbands. It’s not popular, but making atypical decisions almost never is.

And sometimes you can even get lambasted for it by other Christians… that you need to be doing “more.” Sometimes it is the very people who ought to be encouraging us to stay home– the “older women” mentioned in Titus 2– that ask or encourage us to be away from our homes. But regardless of who’s doing the asking, we need to take to heart the things that God would have us learn and do as younger women, and implement these things.

MOTHERHOOD = DISCIPLING DAILY 
IMG_3419

Summer 2015, my youngest two sons, Theo (2) and Luke (5 months)

When you are discipling little souls and training them to love Jesus while wiping their noses, tying their shoes, doling out discipline, and cutting their meat into smaller bites, you ARE “doing more”. 

It is a HUGE thing to be daily in contact with one or more young disciples that you are loving and training up in their faith. It is a HUGE thing to be available to answer their queries, tell them a Bible story, listen to lengthy explanations about the purpose of a new toy creation, tell them about a people group on the other side of the globe, read a novel aloud together, or to pray with them at night when they are scared.

It is a HUGE thing to be, daily and hourly, earning the trust and respect of a little person, so that they might later all the more fully trust and respect Christ.

IMG_4080It is a HUGE thing to “just” spend time with your children. Christ Himself spent three entire years with 12 grown men and some of them still took a while to really get it. And let’s not forget that it wasn’t all miracles and parables… sometimes, Jesus & His disciples were just sitting around eating fish, or taking a nap in the hull of a ship.

Even Jesus had mundane moments amidst the intense daily discipleship.

I don’t want to act as if anything outside the house is wrong– that is not what I’m driving at… but what I mean is this:

what is happening INSIDE our home is so very very important that it takes a massive amount of “upside” for me to be willing to trade in those daily, hourly, character-forming things.

We as moms are given (Lord willing, if we are blessed to watch them grow into adulthood) potentially 18-20 years of daily interaction with our children. That sounds like a lot. It’s really not.

Already I’m feeling it.

My oldest, 13, used to be snuggly and have pudgy feet. Now he’s lanky and wears deodorant and we’re discussing George Orwell and presidential debates and whether or not he can have his own e-mail address and learn to write code.

We need to listen to those older women– have you heard them? Nearly every single one says “it goes so fast!”

That’s because it really does.

We are privileged to pray for and with our children, “study” them– learning their personality, their strengths & weaknesses, their skills, their interests– and, in so doing, offer wise guidance as counsel as they grow, and serve them with kind affection. Spending time together, watching, teaching, learning, and loving– these are no small things.

SO, SHOULD I STRIVE TO “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE MORE?”

Istanbul, Turkey – in 2008 – when my kids were 6, 4, 2, & an infant

Here was my answer in 2008:

Sometimes I struggle here, particularly in an overseas setting– I want to be able to communicate with my neighbors better. I wish I had more time for Turkish study. I would enjoy being able to share deeper things and communicate more clearly, instead of at a toddler-level of communication in this language. There is a natural pull there for me.

And sometimes, well-meaning others even give me that oft-offered advice, “you should get out of the house more”. I know that from the outside, mine seems like a very cloistered life.

But right now, I have four small children… four little people I get to communicate with every single day. Four souls that I can impact and disciple every single day. Three men and one woman who I can begin influencing and shaping right now. I am doing big things and changing the world by discipling those that God has put into my immediate sphere of influence.

And it’s a job no one else can do in the way that God has equipped me to do.

IMG_4475

Washington, 2015– my oldest 4 kids are 13, 11, 9, & 7

My thoughts now, 7 years later, in 2015:

I’m now a mom of SEVEN children, 13 down to 9 months old, and part of me wishes I could take time for every single fun and interesting thing I (or they) want to do, or everything other people want from me. But I can’t. 

Instead, again and again, I commit myself to purposeful motherhood.

I still need to be every bit as selective as I did when my 4 kids were 6 & under, or else my time will be EASILY taken over by commitments, plans, get-togethers, kids’ events, sports, practices, library reading times, dinners, clubs, and more. They may all be good, fine things… hear me: none of it is inherently sinful or wrong. And yet filling up our calendar, even if we all had fun and made new friends, would not be a net GOOD for us.

Our time together will be gone all too quickly. God has given me seven amazing people to disciple. I can’t shirk this job now, and then later get these years back. This is my one crack at it.

Whether or not the world salutes it, whether or not the Christians around us value it, there is high value and eternal significance to this one-shot, daily work of motherhood.

It’s not for the faint of heart. No matter if our culture lies, saying it’s easy, insignificant, or that anyone can do it… or even, if some say that it’s too hard, and no one can do it well, and so we might as well put our kids in daycare, gripe about them, and have a margarita already, we have God’s design as our guide and His Word as our plumb line.

Very few commit themselves to hands-on motherhood for the long-haul, and each year, fewer and fewer do it well.

IMG_2915

Bike riding with my 7 children, in one of our first goes with the Bakfiets-style bike we got in Spring 2015

I don’t want to give in to the pull of doing everything else but this. Even this many years into my full-time-at-home job, I want to keep going, and eventually cross the finish line with exuberance. I want to walk through even the hardest of times with God’s peace and joy, and through the good times with gratitude. I want to (with ever-increasing skill) encourage my husband and children with the reliable, rock-solid source of comfort, strength, and wisdom: God’s Word.

I want to yield myself, daily, to the demands of the Potter who knows much better than I do what I was made for… and He– the God of all the Universe!!– has made me a mother.

IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: How do you prioritize your children and home amidst the constant, magnetic pull to “get out of the house more?”

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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25 Responses

  1. Stephanie says:

    Thank you!! We have been doing a lot of outside activities and have just cut back and it is so nice and less stressful. I can actually get my house clean. And my kids have had some free time. I’m pretty sure we will do some activities again, but are in a much needed break from things outside of the house, excluding church, those are a priority

  2. Jessica says:

    I was feeling guilty for not being a part of our homeschool coop this year. It’s been because of fatigue both my own and my oldest. My kids love the time but it just seems to make attitudes much harder to keep positive the rest of the day and next day. I agree though that staying home and slowing down and loving and focusing on connection and character within our homes we will never ever regret!! Once every week or two I get out to meet with some others to pray and be encouraged in God. My husband is able to stay with the kids as they sleep and he gets some quiet time. I’m an extrovert and so this is my refreshing out of the house time. Well, other than grocery shopping! I can’t imagine trying to get out of the house for a weekly coop. I have a friend that does that and it sounds exhausting. I think we each have to find what is too much and what is healthy for us all. For us my daughter has piano lessons and we get out for errands every other week but often I try to go by myself as it makes it quicker. We stay home a lot. Esp. in the bitter cold winters! :) Thanks for this post! Love the perspective and quotes!

  3. Nancy says:

    I am WITH YOU, Jessica, on all of this, as a mom of three young ones. But, professionally, I struggle with the way this plays out in church life, specifically re: children’s ministry and the finding of willing hearts and hands to serve. I’ve had MANY people – mostly parents of young children – pull back from volunteering for reasons very similar to the ones you mentioned. But most of same people expect the ministries to/with their children in the church will continue uninterrupted while the parents enjoy “us/me time” (time with their spouses or in solitude). And I GET IT! I crave those things, too.

    I guess another thought: “What is my responsibility to my neighbor?” I get and embrace that my primary responsibility & calling is toward my family. But, how about other people’s children in the church? Don’t I have a spiritual responsibility toward them, also? They may not be mine, biologically, but I am a spiritual mother to them. I made commitments to them and their parents when they were dedicated, and now the “living out” of those commitments happen. And how about my literal neighbor boy, whose parents aren’t present? What is my responsibility toward him?

    Just thoughts. Like I said, I agree with you on so many points. I welcome your feedback.

    • Stephanie says:

      I have found that if we remove other commitments we can have time and energy to serve in church even with a big family to care for. We have a church of many young families so the young moms must serve or there will be no classes. Also we don’t have any drop you kid and leave activities, on Wednesday night’s the adults have prayer meeting while kids have classes and all ages have Sunday school. Maybe ask for short commitments, like can they teach for one quarter? Maybe that would be less overwhelming. Also we have found sometimes activities just need not to happen if people won’t serve, we no longer have Sunday evening nursery due to a lack of workers. But I think the biggest thing for us is that church is the first outside home priority , not sports or such

    • Jess Connell says:

      Thanks for taking the time and risk to comment with your question– I appreciate where you’re coming from!

      A couple thoughts here, Nancy. Some might apply and some may just be rabbit trails only of interest to me–
      (1) “Those who do not work, do not eat” is a biblical principle that can apply to children’s ministry too. We recently had a meeting in our church about this very thing, so I definitely understand where you’re coming from. My thought on this– if a Christian parent isn’t willing to be on the rotation for nursery, then that Christian parent should not expect to be able to drop their children off in that nursery program. (An obvious alternative would be if there is a drop-off date night program where each couple pays X amount of $$$ for the privilege of walking away kid-free.)

      So that’s a huge part of my perspective on church ministry, well, and in life, too. I also am one who believes that the principle (in church, school, politics, and life) that if there is no money for a program, or not enough volunteers for a program, or not enough interest in keeping a program running, then it could be the right time for that program to (even temporarily) shut down. Not sure how that fits here with what you’re asking, but that perspective probably informs you about where I’m coming from on this.

      (2) I think the biggest responsibility I have to the other children in our church community (with Christian parents) is to help their parents raise them wisely. Occasionally that will look like pinch-hitting for a parent (I’m thinking more along the lines of caring for kids while the new baby brother/sister is born; stepping up in emergency situations; setting up date-trade-off nights with another family so we can each have a date once a month, that sort of thing).

      I do not think anyone other than the parents has an obligation to other people’s children, except to strengthen and encourage the parent/child relationship by pointing the parents toward honoring God in how they raise their children and pointing the children to honor and respect and obey their parents. Throughout Scripture (except for the notably exceptional situations like Naomi/Obed, Eli/Samuel), parents are the ones responsible to and for their own children. So while I get your point (dedicated babies at the front), I think our obligation is more to the parents– to equip them to parent biblically and parent well– and more indirectly to the kids. This is my thought about those who are IN the church, for Christian parents.

      (3) The other thought I have is: regarding the neighbor kids with unbelieving parents, I think those who are faithful with little are the ones who are gradually entrusted with more. These years of devoting myself to the care of my family (especially in the early years when they are all so dependent and needy of instruction/correction/etc) have prepared me to (with increasing clarity) have a better sense about what it takes to run our family faithfully before the Lord, as well as rightly assess the margin we have left over to give.

      Years of devoting myself to the thing God has *for sure* put on my plate has enabled me to be a good judge of what else we can add to it without shoving off the things He intends for us to see to– additionally, ironically, that principle of “be faithful with little; THEN add more” (or really then HE will add more) plays out in what I see that has happened in my own heart/life:

      The more I do with our kids, the more capable I am of having extra to give, and of having that extra that I give actually be valuable help that hits the “sweet spot” of the need. (i.e., I fear that much of what is given– in government and in church and in life– actually helps to do the opposite of what is desired by the help. It produces dependency and an inability to function without the helper. Doing this job of mother so purposefully for so long helps me discern where best to target my efforts and portion of time/talent/love/etc when I DO have a needy neighbor child who needs love and attention and “extra.” (i.e., she doesn’t really need my cookies as much as she needs my attentive conversation. Even if her clothes are tatty, she doesn’t need new clothes as much as she needs friendship and smiles and invitations to play on the trampoline and go to VBS together.)

      I think those who are active in faith and have a heart for people can be so quick to see and hear the need that they get over-used, and hit a place of burn-out quickly because they (and I’ve done this too) care so much for people and want to be able to give and care for the neighbor and not overlook them. I think that can be wonderful, when we have it to give. But what I have observed again and again is that godly young mothers are often extremely eager to give more, and don’t realize that what God has put on their plates– the care, training, feeding, instruction, correction, etc.– of their own children, and the respect, care, love, affection, delight in, helpfulness toward– their own husbands– actually takes a lot of energy.

      Too many young mothers give their “best” everywhere else and their husband and children get the leftovers. Truly, though, this isn’t just a young mother thing–I’ve seen this, too, with pastors, and with missionaries. Too often, those who are striving for godliness most try to “give” everywhere else. All the while, the things God for sure has put on their plates, get pushed farther and farther to the margins, and end up suffering.

      I want to encourage all of us to take a step back and actually look hard at the things God has most definitely 100% put on our plates. If a man/woman is married, that is for sure his/her spouse. If a believer has children, that is most definitely the faithful raising of his/her children.

      But I also have come to believe that there are seasons to a woman’s life. Older women have more freedom than you and I do. Women in the stage of birthing and nursing children are in a different category, and we see it throughout Scripture.

      * Isaiah 40:11– God is particularly gentle toward those who are with young
      * all the places about fleeing Judea talk about “woe to those who are pregnant or nursing”
      * 1 Cor. 7 talks about the unmarried woman as being free to single-mindedly serve the Lord in a way that the married woman is not free to do

      So then part of my approach to this is that as a mother of young ones, I believe it is best for me NOT to sign up for everything, lead everything, do everything… not just because of how it is best for me and my children, but also because I think it is best for other women and men who are NOT in this season to see the needs, step up and meet them, and for those who HAVE more time and freedom and strength and less little ones dependent on them, to learn to serve in ways that they are able.

      I hope that makes sense. For me, discerning the season I’m in has been a huge part of the commitments I make. And discerning what God has absolutely put on my plate is a huge part of assessing what else I will add to it.

      How have you come to think these things through? How is your children’s ministry program sorting these things out currently?

      • Nancy says:

        Thanks, Jess! I appreciate your thoughtful reply. And I’m in agreement with you about almost everything. :)
        I’m the Children’s Minister at our church – started about a year ago. We’re pretty “bare bones” regarding what we do in the church – there aren’t a lot of “fluff” activities, and everything we offer for children has a corresponding component for adults/parents.
        Thanks, again. I’ll be rereading it as I have more quiet moments.
        Enjoy Friday!

        • Jess Connell says:

          Thanks for the conversation– I’d love to hear any pushback/continued concern from you. I love your heart toward the neighbor, the unbeliever, and the outsider.

          I think it would make life infinitely easier for those in your/similar position if Christian parents saw our duty toward our own children as OURS, and not anyone else’s. It would certainly make children’s programs easier to staff if every parent saw that function as their own God-given portion (even within the church building walls!).

  4. Brittany says:

    When I’m asked to do something, I say that I need to check with my husband or calendar first. That gives me time to really think it through instead of just giving the people-pleasing “yes” I’m inclined to give. And my husband is really good at helping me evaluate if it’s beneficial for our family or not and if it’s going to stress me out. Often he saves me from myself. :)

    My experience has also been that if you say “no” enough, people don’t ask as often any more. I used to get asked to do things all the time, because I “just stayed home” and so-and-so couldn’t “because she works.” But now it happens much less frequently.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yup!

      “When I’m asked to do something, I say that I need to check with my husband”

      Me too! I’ve come to do that instinctively, and it saves me many a time because it either gives me enough time to realize it would be too much, OR that Doug would be aware of some other priority that would crowd out that commitment.

  5. Tamara says:

    I’m curious you have said before you are an extrovert. How do you balance staying at home most of the time with your temperament?
    I only have one child who is under one at the moment so maybe it changes as they get more able to communicate, but even though we live with another family so there is another stay at home mum to talk to, I’d get depressed if we didn’t get out a couple of times a week to refuel my energy.

    • Jess Connell says:

      We have home fellowship with our small group at church once a week.

      We have Sunday evening church time with our church family which extends well past service and we all have a good time visiting while we watch our own children play.

      Not filling up my calendar with a bunch of other outside commitments frees me to make my church family the priority described in Acts 2… we are together multiple times through the week, encouraging each other, spending time together, letting the kids play while we visit.

      Over the years, I have done things like ladies’ Bible studies (especially when my kids were young like yours), or an having a friend over for the day, but have found that increasingly, the more we get out mid-day for things like that, the less able I am to do the things that need doing… not just chores around the house, but attitude-monitoring and correction, watching and teaching our children, etc. Things like potty training, tantrums, etc, give increasing reasons to be home.

      I’ve learned that the more I’m home, the more time and opportunity I have to be consistently mothering them and the more time we’re away, the more times and opportunities there are for me to be inconsistent in training (like potty training), teaching (like taking time to be faithfully teaching them rather than chit-chatting with other moms), and disciplining them (like correcting tantrums with faithful response every single time).

      That said, I do sometimes get away with friends for a dinner (maybe a couple times a year?), and my husband encourages me to make time for ladies’ get togethers when they happen (again, not frequent, but when they do happen, he’s happy to take the kids for the Saturday afternoon or weekday evening in order for me to make time for those relationships).

      One of the things I’ve learned needed to shift when I had children was my understanding of friendship. In high school and college, friendship is so DAILY. It’s so up-to-the-minute. Motherhood changes all of that… and I think it’s meant to. Even the physiology of breastfeeding ties us– connects us– bonds us deeply with– our children. And I think it’s meant to.

      So then, my understanding of friendship has significantly changed with the all-in demands of faithful motherhood. Rather than a daily, up-to-the-minute understanding, I shoot far more for an over-arching, up-to-the-month, or up-to-the-major-event, or up-to-the-year type of friendship. Longer interactions, and deeper… more sharing of the soul, less sharing of the daily details. It’s turned into much more willingness to dive deep fast to the heart-stuff that matters.

      This perspective on friendship changed dramatically in those first few years of motherhood and has given me deep friendships that stand the test of time because they’re not dependent on my ability to be faithful by the day, but more on both of our willingness to keep talking about the heart issues, as the years roll by.

      Hope this helps. I DO try to meet my own needs, but try to find ways to do that without unnecessarily disadvantaging my husband and children.

      • Tamara says:

        Thanks for replying!

        I think this is probably a context thing but what is home fellowship?

        I definitely agree with you in terms of avoiding extraneous commitments so we have the time and energy for our church family. I also don’t ever want to short change my son or husband. I’m challenged to work through whether for a rather extreme extrovert like myself whether I short change my family more by refueling by seeing people (whether church family or otherwise) and having more energy to serve my family versus being home more and focusing on the daily activities of my family as you encouraged in this post.

        I’m curious on your thoughts on what you would call being at home eg if you had someone over in your home during the day is that different to going out in terms of your ability to meet the needs of your family?

        Much food for thought!

        • Jess Connell says:

          Home fellowship is just our small group (a group of families/singles who meet together weekly to study Scripture and encourage one another).

          With little ones, for me, the difference of at home/not comes in my ability to keep things steady and stable for them (i.e., naps, routines, meals, discipline). I’ve found that especially when my children are little, things like routine and constancy greatly affect their attitudes and also affect my ability to respond to them with purpose and consistency. Getting out more often seems to impede these things.

          I do think we are free to find ways to meet our own needs with the resources we have available to us, amidst the demands of motherhood… but my heart here is to encourage women to do that in ways that work in conjunction with (rather than in opposition to) the principles we have about raising our children.

          • Tamara says:

            Thanks Jess!

            Your thoughts are always good to work through and ensure things aren’t being done because they are just the status quo or because of sinful desires.

            Appreciate the conversation.

  6. Heather says:

    Great post!! I couldn’t agree more. Up to this point , I had not found any other Christian moms who share this same belief that we do best when we spend most of our time AT HOME, just as the Bible tells us in Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 5. And you are right…we are constantly pressured to participate in outside activities, at the expense of our husbands and children. Just like you, I have learned to be very good at saying “no”, and my family and I have been blessed by this. Our home is a peaceful place, where we eat most of our home-cooked meals together at an unhurried pace. We have time to do Bible study together in the mornings and evenings, because no one (except my husband) has to rush off to go anywhere, and no one is coming home late due to sports or other extracurriculars. I can be right near our kids most of the time, correcting them or encouraging them when they need it. I have been told by naysayers that they believe our children are not getting as many “social” experiences as they should; however, many people remark about how polite and kind and friendly our children are. That is an indication to me that they are actually getting socialized quite well!

    Thank you for taking the time to encourage others with this post!

  7. Amy Livers says:

    A good word, Jess!

  8. LOVED your thoughts about motherhood being our job. I homeschooled, too, and motherhood was definitely my full-time job, day in and day out, for quite a few years. I did actually get out of the house more with kids than without, as they had music lessons and times they got with their friends. I was their taxi service, so I got out a lot! And, we were all home a lot–together with their dad. It was a life investment in them, and I have no regrets.

  9. renee says:

    i’ve been really struggling with how much i should have my kids involved with outside the house — i have a 3 month old, 2 year old, and 4 year old, and i work full time from home (online–thanks internet!). i started the 2 year old and 4 year old in a 2 day a week parents day out program, and, though they do seem to love it, i have truly struggled with whether or not this is right for them. i prayed and prayed for years to be at home with the girls (i worked out side the home about 15 hours a week for the first two years that i had kids), and now this feels like i am giving that time away. at the same time, i fear that i won’t be able to get my work done and keep the house clean, etc, if i don’t have those two days. what are your thoughts on mother’s day out programs?

    • Jess Connell says:

      You know, different people probably feel differently about this, based on their personalities, the amount of help they have, and what all they absolutely have to get done. But my experience with mother’s day out programs is that they take a massive amount of work to prep for (mat/nap/snack/get everyone dressed/make sure no one has a snotty nose/etc), deal with the fall out from (napless days, fussing, sicknesses they pick up while there, attitudes they pick up while there), and get to and from… all for (again, to me) very little “upside.”

      That said, if my husband was a military man and I literally had NO breaks… or if I had to work for income and this was what my husband and I determined together was the best time for me to get it done… I might utilize them. I do not think they are evil or wrong; I have just decided that for me, the benefits do not outweigh the disadvantages.

      For me, the younger the child, the less I am willing to turn them over to someone else. I do so, currently with my 3-and-under crew for one reason: Sunday morning ladies Sunday school and worship services. And about 2x a year, I do it for a number of days at a go in order to have a training time or conference away with my husband.

      The younger they are, the less I can be certain what is happening when they are outside of my presence… and news stories and chit chat with other moms continually reminds me that there is no one better to deal with my kids than ME. Other people are more likely to feel annoyed by my children than I am. Other people are more likely to misinterpret what my kids are saying/doing than I am. Other people are less aware of their personal deficiencies and the areas where they need correction/oversight than I am.

      I feel that even the cute little phrases our kids say around age 2-4 are designed to help us have enough affection and delight in them that we don’t lose our minds disciplining them like they need in those ages, LOL. Other women/men, no matter how kind, do not have the same God-given hormones flooding through them, or the same God-given aim as I do for their hearts. But that is me and my thoughts, since you asked. These are the things I think through, that influence how I think about who, when, how, where, and for how long, I will leave my children in the care of someone else.

      As for you, right now, it sounds like you have competing interests (work, children, clean house) and feel confused about how to do what needs doing, and which priority should come first when these come into conflict with one another. My counsel would be to sit down with your husband and determine what is the order of your priorities as a mom, and how he wants for you to order your days and your home.

      It may very well be (in fact I think it is very likely) that you can not do all three of those things well (work, children, clean house). It is probably true that there are other priorities here, too– like having energy left for relationship and intimacy with your husband. And probably other commitments too… how much time is left for growing as disciples and connecting with our church family, etc.

      So, then my advice would be that you need your husband to weigh in and discuss with you which order your priorities should be. You guys need to talk through the ramifications of that (so if you come home, and the laundry is stacked as high as Mount St. Helens, will we both be OK with that?, or… so if the kids come home from being at Mothers Day Out and are stressed out and haven’t had their naps, and it makes more work for us in those evenings each week, are we both OK with that?, or, if we try to make do without MDO and then I’m exhausted and have to work in the evenings and we have sex less often, will we both be OK with that? Will that be healthy for our family? etc.).

      Think through what the real-world implications are of your priorities, and how tweaking your priorities in one place or another will ACTUALLY turn out in real life. And then move forward, together, on the same page. Hope this helps you continue thinking through these things.

  10. shannon bradbury says:

    I loved this! I am an extrovert and I have been challenged by wanting to be around others while having kids. We have done science class in the past and ballet for my daughter. Now we mostly stay home except for evenings when we go as a family to the gym. My daughter dances once a week and my boys play disc golf with their dad and others from our church. I have started a once a week prayer group, but other than church activities on Wed. + Sun morning, were home. I realize other woman are doing different activities with their families but I am also realizing these years are going so fast! My kids are now 14,12,10,8,+3 . Thank you for showing me to invest in their lives. You are an inspiration to me!

  11. nina says:

    Thanks for this post, I did enjoy reading it, and I do believe in a lot of it. I know when we go out too much, even to “good things” our home life suffers (the kids, housework, dinner and hubby). But I also wonder, what is your perspective on the isolation that motherhood (especially homeschooling as well) can bring, in particular to a mother who struggles with mental health issues (talking about depression and anxiety mainly). I look forward to days at home, as I am an introvert and I know I need to regroup/refuel. But I also get times when I just feel so depressed and so alone, by myself with 4 children, overwhelmed, not sure how to do it all by myself (I know I am not by myself, God is with me, but you know what I mean). I believe that in times past families and homes were not so nuclear, I would be interested to know just what it was like in Titus 2 times, was it a mother at home, 4 or more children by themselves with mum, day in day out, while Dad went to work? Or was it grandparents, and aunties and uncles around, living together, working together, was it fathers who weren’t gone from 8 – 5, 5 days a week? Were Dad’s working closer to home, in the fields, etc… oh it is just interesting to think about for me. I’m not sure whether or not God intended the mother to have it all on her shoulders entirely … is that a cultural thing now, that mums are expected to do it all themselves, was it more the culture then that they had outside help, family, etc. around … anyway, just thinking out loud really, and something that has always interested me to think about, how motherhood may have been in times past, and how much is expected of us in this day and age. Oh, and I’m from Australia, hence the use of the word “mum” instead of “mom” haha. :)

  12. Ben Crawford says:

    Great article. I think many people’s homes suck. We don’t invest into them in the right ways by making them places we actually want to live in, learn in, and enjoy. They’re often museum pieces or status symbols. Going out costs money. I’ve wondered what would happen if instead of spending money on awesome places that other’s design we spend that money on making our own houses more suitable. I think this requires an imagination that’s difficult, though. I think that would make a great follow up article. How to make your home not suck – you could use “stink” for HS moms 😉

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