A holy mom is a powerful force in the family and in the world—but she can’t do it alone.
Did you ever notice how moms end up giving more often than they receive when it comes to the parish (and in general)? They are our catechists, lectors, vacation Bible school volunteers, and donut Sunday organizers. Vital to almost every function of a parish, a busy mom can be a powerful witness to service in the Church; but at times, she needs to be ministered to as well.
A good way for your parish to spiritually nurture moms is to give them a time and space to come together and talk about the difficulties they face everyday. (Not sure where to start? Check out this study written for moms, by a mom.)
But moms are busy, and they are always putting the needs of others before themselves. We need to make it as easy as possible for moms to set aside time for some spiritual TLC. Here are six tried and true tips to start a ministry that gives moms the helping hand they need.
1. Find a Time to Minister to Moms
How can you find the best time to meet? Ask!
Start your ministry by letting the mom community know that you are getting a group together and send out a survey to find the best time. (Here is a free, easy-to-use scheduling tool that can help.) Ask about what day of the week works best, what time is most convenient, and what frequency (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) they can commit to. This will also help you gauge overall interest.
By doing this, you may find out that autumn is a bad time, or that Friday evenings are surprisingly open (wine and cheese anyone?), or that a once-a-month meeting means less stress all around. Every parish and every family is different, but armed with this knowledge you can set a schedule of meeting times far enough in advance for moms to pencil them into their calendars.
2. Keep It Short
As you are getting your schedule together, make it known that the meetings will be short and sweet—one hour is a good amount of time. No one wants to be stuck somewhere for too long when the laundry is piling up and dinner needs to be on the table in forty-five minutes. Keeping the event at a reasonable amount of time will make it more possible for moms to attend. Which brings us to the next point …
3. Respect Their Time
Start and end on time! Don’t wait for everyone to get there to start and don’t wait for conversations to cease before you end. If you promised that the meeting would start at 6 pm and end at 7 pm, it needs to start at 6 pm and end at 7 pm.
Set a timer at the beginning to go off five minutes before the end, so everyone knows you are about to wrap up. It’s fine (and a good sign!) if people want to continue discussion after the meeting is over, but be sure to provide an opportunity for people to leave at the end.
4. No Guilt
As we’ve established, moms are busy and their schedules can be unpredictable. If a mom shows up ten minutes late, she probably has a good reason.
Face this fact head-on. Let them know that you will be sticking to the start and end times, and if they need to come late, leave early, or miss a session entirely, establish a “no guilt” rule. The ministry is there to support them, not to stress them out more.
5. Be Flexible
If someone in your group does need to skip a meeting, find a way to catch them up that fits in their schedule. There are a couple ways to do this: in person, or digitally.
Catching someone up in person will take much less time than the meeting itself if you stick to the highlights. There are many ways to set up a one-on-one meeting. Most ministers ask for a meeting at the parish office, but this isn’t always possible. Be as flexible as you can. Offer to grab a cup of coffee at a McDonald’s or Chick-fil-a with a playscape, meet at a nearby park. Or, if she’s comfortable with it, ask to stop by the house for a quick recap.
Digital catch-ups requires a bit more planning. If you know in advance that someone will be absent, you can document the meeting so they can get caught up on their own time. Consider taking notes on a computer, or even recording the meeting if everyone agrees. Most digital study programs will have a login for participants to access the materials online. Make sure they know where to find that information and send links to any extra videos or other materials you may have used.
6. Provide Babysitting
It’s not always possible for moms to find a babysitter or leave the kids with their spouse, and it is difficult to focus on a program when actively looking after children. If possible, provide babysitting.
PTAs have been using this technique for ages. Contact a youth group minister in your area, a local National Honor Society chapter or other established, service-minded groups. Groups like these are often looking for service projects for their teenage members, and some schools even require them for graduation. Connecting with these groups and requesting volunteers to babysit will make it easier for busy moms to attend. Make sure the volunteers know that interrupting the meeting for any emergencies (bruised knees, tantrums, bathroom breaks, etc.) is totally fine, and even preferred.
If you are able to keep kids occupied with crafts, toys, or Veggie Tales, moms can breathe a little easier knowing they are close by and looked after, but not in their face. If applicable, alert moms to the activity that their kids will be partaking in. No one wants to dress their child in a new outfit if watercolors are on the docket.
What Do You Think?
If you’ve used any of these tips, or have some of your own to share, let us know in the comments! We also invite you to share this article and any similar advice you may have with anyone you know in ministry!