Friday, April 29, 2011

Surviving The Special Times

Holidays present a unique set of challenges in the pastor’s home. While holidays mark special day of tradition and celebration in the family, it is also a time of special, cherished worship times within the church. For many pastor’s homes, this means the pastor’s spouse takes on additional “home and family” responsibilities while the pastor fulfills additional duties within the church. When both parents are pastors or the parent who usually carries the bulk of domestic responsibilities is the pastor, holidays can be a very unique juggling act. This is the challenging scenario we face at our house.

Last week, Wayne and I celebrated Easter with our immediate family, our church family, and our extended family. That meant that between 6:00am and 1:00pm the following items had to be completed (by me and/or Wayne): dress a three year old, two year old and five month old in color coordinated church Easter outfits and accessories, over see and preach the sunrise service, enjoy breakfast with our church family, give Easter baskets to our children, teach an adult Sunday school class, participate in the primary worship service, bake a broccoli cheese casserole, cook macaroni and cheese and lima beans, change the children into their casual Easter outfits, load all the food, filled plastic eggs, and goodie bags for the cousins in the car, and arrive safely and sanely at Wayne’s sisters house to begin our family Easter.

How can it all be possible?  Here are a few of the tricks I have learned over the years:

1. Over Organize. By being overly organized in advance, it gave me the freedom to trouble shoot when things went terribly wrong (as they often to with toddlers, media driven worship services, and me in a kitchen). The fact that the Easter baskets were sitting “presentation style” behind my bed meant that they simply had to be re-located to the cough between services. The fact that the kids clothes and accessories were all laid out, side by side, made it easy for the parent with free hands to dress any one or all of the kids. The fact that the dishes the food would be transported in were sitting on the counter with their coordinating lids or covers made getting the food off the stove and out the door a lot easier.

2. Pre-prepare. In the days before Easter, I filled my spare time with ironing, taking tags off of gifts and new items, and cleaning the house so the “work surface” on Easter day was clear of hazards or difficulties. This just allows for efficiency on the big day.

3. Communicate. Wayne and I often talk about “being on the same page.” When we both know the schedule and expectations of the day upfront, there is less confusion and hurt feelings in the midst of the chaos.

4. Look For Creative Short Cuts. Since I know I needed to prepare food to take to my my in-law’s get together and I knew I would have NO TIME to do any cooking on Sunday morning, I had to be creative in my menu. I took brownies that I made the day before for a desert. I took my mom’s Greek Limas that are cooked in a sauce that only gets creamier and tastier when it is reheated so microwaving the next day was no problem. I took a casserole that I could prepare the night before and pop in the oven between services. And I took macaroni (a staple food item anywhere my kids eat). With the macaroni, I cooked the pasta the night before and drizzled a little olive oil on it. I made a cheese sauce and stored it separately. The day of, I put the pasta in warm water to separate it and microwaved the cheese sauce to pour over it and voila! It was done.

5. Involve the Kids. My kids are still quite young so it is almost always easier to do a task on my own rather than it is to allow them to “help.” However, I also realize that it is those special moments of hands on fun with mommy that makes something special so I always look for ways to keep them involved in the preparation for special occasions. For Easter this year, they colored cards for their cousins, filled goodie bags, and sprinkled marshmallow, chocolate chips, and nuts on the brownies. Them being able to participate in these few things made fact that the kitchen had to be “off limits” at other times less harsh and unfair… at least I hope so  J

6. Plan Extra Time For Mine. So much of my time is for everyone else so I always try to plan extra time for MINE… my husband, my kids, my relationship with God. Since we knew Easter day would be busy, I set aside special time on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to spend one on one time with the people most important in my life. We watched movies, died eggs, listened to music, read books, went on walks, had special chats, etc. And those were some of the most special moments for me this Easter.

So those are some of the ways I survive the hectic moments in our home… how about you? What are your secrets to success when it comes to thriving in demanding and overwhelming circumstances without getting distracted from the joys of life or ruining special moments?

Two out of three is not bad. Especially at 6:00am.

Josiah and his eggs from the Easter Egg Hunt at church.
Notice that the egg HAD to look like a ball to make it into his Easter basket.
He had a very high standard.

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