How New Moms Balance Work and Parenting

In this video, Erik and Donna Thoennes talk through the difficult decision of putting career goals on hold while raising kids.


The following is a lightly edited transcript; please check the video before quoting.

Donna Thoennes: Yeah, that’s a hard question. To know whether you should both work, when you should both work, how much time should you be at home, and I think it’s different for every family. So I’d say initially, the primary important aspect of that is making sure that you’re on the same page with that, that you’re making your decision together, that one of you isn’t saying, “Well, I want to go off and get this job,” and the other one is saying, “No, I think that you need to be home.” But it’s important that you’re like-minded and you come to that together prayerfully because that is a hard decision.

Well, each time we added one child to our family, I worked a little bit less. I had been full-time as a professor, and I realized that I didn’t have the emotional capacity to give to my students once I had children at home because they were taking up a lot of my emotional capacity. So I worked less with each child that we added to our family, and it got to the point where I realized that these years are going to go by so quickly, and I don’t want to miss any part of it. And sure enough, we sent our oldest off to college this fall, and I was so thankful that I had years with her at home.

So for us, it was the right decision for me to step away from my full-time work, and it was a hard decision. And I was sad to walk away from that.

Erik Thoennes: And so was our daughter when she helped you pack up your office.

Donna Thoennes: Yeah. I cried when I packed up my office. It was hard, but I never have regretted that decision, and I know other families and couples where wives come to other decisions. But for us, it has been so rich for me to be at home and to be really available. And not only available to my kids, but available to Erik because with the pressures of ministry and the busyness of a family of six, I kind of feel like they all need me. So it’s great to be home and be available to them.

Erik Thoennes: And we need to recognize that there are different seasons of life that allow for more opportunities that you’re able to take advantage of relative to other times. And so, we don’t have to just have one idea of what our marriage or our ministry partnership will look like. We have to recognize there are seasons that we need to be flexible in and make changes, pull back at times from the amount of commitments we have in some way because there are greater demands.

I have a boy who just turned 13 and one who will next year, and those boys need me around a lot. And so, I simply can’t do what I have been able to at other times in my life and will maybe later on. And so, we need to work together to have a dynamic that is wise, and with the input of the wise people in our lives, seeking Lord and what that looks like. It can look lots of different ways, but we want to be faithful in whatever season of life God has us in.