The Real Reason I Don’t Want to Work In the Church Nursery

I maintain that one reason the church nursery has trouble getting volunteers is because they’re asking the wrong people.

The first time I was asked to work in the church nursery, I was 38 weeks pregnant with a spirited one-year-old in tow. After I realized that she was not kidding, I mentioned that I should probably wait until after the baby was born. I figured that was a legit answer since no one wants to hand their baby off to someone who might have to run to the labor and delivery room during service. While I sure seemed to feel gigantic, apparently my watermelon-sized belly didn’t seem to be do the trick. She replied, “Well, any way you can help before then would be great too.”

Are you kidding me? Between Braxton Hicks contractions, sleepless nights, a high-energy toddler, and the risk of my water breaking beneath my feet at that very moment, helping out in the nursery was the last thing on my mind. It was a near miracle that I could barely make it to church that morning. As a mom of young children, getting to church at all felt like one of the biggest accomplishments of the entire week. Even if I was five minutes late.

Why couldn’t someone have asked me five years ago when I actually had time and wasn’t living in survival mode? Back then I had no children, but I loved being surrounded by them. I could go home and enjoy solitude. I went to bed when I wanted, woke up when my alarm clock went off, and I didn’t even need coffee.

Nowadays, I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself. I go to church to remember the days of worshipping God before I had children. The days when I could have a quiet time that wasn’t interrupted every three minutes by some who needed mama, or when I didn’t have to try and do it at 5 am next to a pile of unfolded laundry because that it is the only time of day that no one else was up.

I know that many churches are in dire need of volunteers, but consider this. Some of the most desperate people who need a touch from God the most are the women sitting right next to us — the moms of young children.

We want a moment to sit in a seat that we are not sharing with another tiny little body, or to partake in a miniature cup of grape juice that we didn’t have to prepare, or to hear songs that aren’t on television shows and kids radio. Some moms barely even get to interact with human beings over four feet tall during the week, so this is our one shot at finding community or going to the altar to ask for something that we have desperately been fighting back the tears over for weeks or even months.

This madness of asking some of the most desperate, isolated, and depressed people of the church has got to stop. I want to drop off my children to the mom who “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” the second she sees my little ones because she is dying for her grown children to make her a grandma. I want to spot a teenager in the nursery who is the next world’s best babysitter, just waiting for the opportunity to ask me to exchange texts so that she can come over Friday night and play with my kids while my husband and I go on a date that we’ve talked about for months.

So let’s find those people, the ones who were like me five years ago and are were just waiting for an invitation! Instead of asking for help at the nursery door, let’s ask from the podium, from a display table at the back of the church, or even from the weekly e-mail newsletter. The child center entrance is a sanctuary, and every mom wants to leave knowing that she is valued just for making it to church…even when she is late.

Katie Christiansen
Katie T. Christiansen is a mama to three who thought parenting would be easy until she lived through sleep deprivation and being outnumbered 24/7. She spent over 10 years as a preschool teacher and now shares ways to connect with children over on Preschool Inspirations and on Facebook.

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