Blog | Lindsey Smallwood


A Busman's Holiday

Lindsey Smallwood

The first time I had nursery duty for Bible study, Bobby was 2 months old. I was bleary-eyed and pony-tailed, just glad to have gotten myself out of the house after a night of little sleep and arrived at church only to be sent to the room for babies 0-18 months.  

"It's your turn to volunteer!" the leader told me excitedly. "We all take turns throughout the year and it's so fun to be with the children."

Sure, yeah... fun.

Let's be honest. I came to Bible study for the break from being with children, for coffee and adult conversation. For the chance to have someone else hold my baby for awhile. Oh, and a little for the Bible study.

But off to the nursery I went. 

The head volunteer was a lovely older British woman who had an infant in each arm and one holding her ankles. 

"I'm told it's my week to help in here?" I said, a question in my voice, my own baby in my arms.

She glanced at me warmly. "Well look who they've sent! I suppose you're on a bit of a Busman's Holiday!"

"A Busman's Holiday?" I asked.

"You know, when a bus driver takes his family on vacation by driving them around the countryside. Not terribly different from his work, then, is it?" she replied. "You left your house with that baby this morning only to come hold these babies. Not terribly different either, I suppose."

A Busman's Holiday indeed. When your vacation, your break, your time off ends up being a lot like your day job.

We've all experienced it.

The computer scientist who always gets asked to fix some bug in her in-law's computer when she comes to visit. 

The lawyer who gets consulted for legal advice over drinks with a friend.

The plumber whose own toilet breaks on the weekend.

Sometimes motherhood feels like one long Busman's Holiday. The job never ends, it's just the location that changes. 

Weekends that used to be for catching up on sleep and meeting friends for fun feel remarkably like Tuesdays, as I comfort, clothe, feed and change my little ones.

Evenings that used to be spent connecting with Chris are now more focused on the bedtime routine of baths and stories and little prayers.

The "bonus" time I was used to having for seeing friends, painting my toenails, reading novels, even having a devotional life is shorter and less frequent.  

As the months have passed and I've made the mental adjustment to motherhood as a permanent state, I have found ways to carve out time for things that energize me - writing, taking a bath with the door closed, FaceTime with family and friends, studying scripture. I know now that when I make time for things like these, I'm better at my "day job", raising the babies and keeping up the house.

And while sometimes motherhood feels like hard work that never quits, I've also realized that like with any job, your attitude can determine your emotions. When I choose to see the joy, the newness, the energy in my little ones, I feel joyful and new and energized. And when I choose to see them as obnoxious crying snot monsters, I feel mean and tired.

Attitude matters. A LOT. No matter what work you're doing.

I had nursery duty again last week.

I loaded up both boys and we headed into the brightly colored room filled with bouncy seats, play structures and toddler toys.

Another young mom was taking her turn as well. We caught up on life and laughed at the one-year-old trying to climb the slide backward. There were wild moments, of course, but overall the morning felt peaceful.


A strange sensation in a room filled with 12 tiny humans learning to walk and talk. 

A feeling I used to use to describe a day at the beach, listening to the movement of the surf. Or an evening alone with a warm bath and good book. 

But there it was - peace. A morning not without chaos, but still full of God's presence. And I chose to see it. 

God in the joy of toddlers building a tower together.

God in the grace of shared stories of motherhood and marriage. 

God in the compassion of a child, offering a toy to her crying neighbor. 

A Busman's Holiday that felt a little bit like a holiday after all.

What about you? Do your work and your not-work ever bleed into each other? What helps you stay balanced?