A Day in the Life of a House Parent
You know, the life of a mom. A little bit hard to write in one essay. A little bit hard to explain all the emotions and feelings and the responsibility, the overwhelming responsibility. Well, the day as housemom...it’s like a mom. The alarm rings and you know there’s a schoolboy. Cook a protein-filled breakfast, eat with family, study the memory verse. Off to school with “I love you, be good.” Dishes, wash, sticky floors, preschool books with my 4-year-old, stories with 4-year-old, comb hair, think about supper, put 4-year-old down for quiet time, read, study....
And yet it’s like housemom.... Alarm rings, you check messages if staff is fine. You try to sort through the most important chores for the assistant staff. Sometimes before you can figure it all out, they’re messaging, “What’s up today?” You try to organize and message them all. You hop out of bed, there’s a schoolboy. You work at breakfast, a staff messages and reminds me they need to babysit today so they probably can't do other things. “Yes that’s fine.” A boy knocks on the front door and needs shop keys to fix something in the barn.
You feed the schoolboy and feed the family breakfast. You pour warm coffee, practice Bible memory with schoolboy. 4-year-old girl wakes up and sits on my lap. “Goodbye, schoolboy, love ya, be good!”
I tousle 4-year-old girl’s messy hair, “We should comb you.”
Knock, knock, “Good morning, I need paintbrushes...”
Knock, knock, “What could I do with some extra time today?”
You comb little girl.
Knock, knock, “What do you think, my girl...”
Knock, knock, “I need socks, deodorant....”
You take a sip of coffee, oh it’s cold.
I carry some dishes out to the main kitchen and look for some extra fruit. “Good morning!”
“Shana, question...”, and another person is lined up. “May I have a day off?” “May we go on a walk?” “My girls need new shoes soon.”
I notice one staff seems tired, with dark circles under her eyes, I give her a hug and try to check into what is going on and if I can help.
I check the babies... Gaining weight, cord fell off... Should we try a different formula, the next size pampers, etc.
One staff seems in need of extra love, I try to make a point to reach out to her today, maybe a coffee?
I walk into my house and grab my dirty laundry and ask my helper to start a load. She’s capable. She’s learned how mornings go. She’s swept the floors and done the dishes, started the wash, and is combing the 4-year-old's hair. They’re singing their favorite songs and they put a smile on my face.
I sit down to check my messages. I answer “May I take my children to a church family for supper?” with “Yes, very good idea.”
Message #2, “I forgot, DIF baby such and such needs shots tomorrow”, “Thank you, okay, I’ll try to make a plan and get back to you.”
I start reading my Bible.
“Hi, Mom,” schoolboy is home already! 12:30 lunch, I’m getting tired! We come home from lunch and I play with 4-year-old and schoolboy. And he’s off to school again at 1:30.
Little girl rests. I work on fixing the kitchen chore lists. I order more pampers. I check my messages, look at emails, etc.—Schoolboy is home!
I organize my children to clean up their room, oh, and crackers and milk first!
My helper takes the children out to dump slop.
And sometimes I just sit down with my planner... do babies need shots? Does someone need time off? When do I need to plan another farewell? Are there birthdays?....
And I check on someone who got a cut and I give some shampoo to the girls.
And before you know it’s 6 pm. Time for supper. After supper, there are some questions for tomorrow.
There are group devotions at 7 pm.
I try to play games with my children then. Practice memory. And get them to bed in good time.
Then I don’t know, but it’s almost 11 pm. Somehow, I peek out the hall window. All seems peaceful. Some lights are still on. I read some verses. “Lord, help me do my job well! Fill me with your Holy Spirit, so I can meet so many needs!”
“Beep, beep.” Wait, what?
It’s another morning, I hear rain patter on the window. “God, bless this day...”
6:30 Alarm rings. Really, it’s time to get up? I drag myself out of bed. I start the pellet stove and sidle up to it, read my bible, and listen to an inspirational video.
7:30 Time to get the schoolboy up and showered and dressed. Breakfast is being made and by 7:45 we are eating.
8:25, Schoolboy is off to school. Sounds pretty scheduled, right? Well stay tuned, it’s about to change.
Knock, knock. “Come in.”
“My washer doesn’t spin out.”
Knock, knock. “We need milk from the goat farm.”
Knock, knock. “My shower drain is backing up.”
Knock, knock. “I need paint supplies from your shop.”
Okay, okay, okay. I’ll try to get to it. I think of the list of other things I didn’t get done the previous week.
The neighbor’s car I promised to get running, the civil protection signs I need to weld frames for, the electrical problem on the east wing, the shower handle that broke, the drinking water valve the needs fixed. The calls to possible new staff for an interview. Check the staff’s “Google sheets” for child hygiene and behavior. Make plans to go to San Diego for clothing shopping and pick up a new staff member. Okay, okay, I’ll stop.
If there is just one thing I struggle with, with being houseparents and Dad, it is knowing how to juggle my “Big Children”, and my wife and little bio kids.
It is fun and rewarding work, with many challenges. As the housedad I am going to insert a plea. We are in need of committed, long-term staff. We need the short-term staff too, but for the children’s sake, we need staff committed to a year or more.
I would ask for everyone’s prayers. Being a dad to these youth that come to serve is a big undertaking for my unexperienced 31 years. I want to be what is needed but it is easier said than done.
And one last thing: A big thank you to all the staff that sacrifice their time to come to serve, the parents that let go of their youth, and the church families that support these youth to come and serve in God’s fields that are “white and ready for the harvest”
--Brad & Shana Lapp