It’s Monday. My husband and I say to each other in passing. “Yesterday was like the perfect Sunday!” With 3 young kids and a short list of un-ideal circumstances, unfortunately, Sundays were often filled with feelings of frustration for our family. I used to LOVE sundays as a teenager, but being a mom to 3 young kids has altered my Sunday scene. Our church has been sending the message strong and clear over the passing months that if we aren’t using Sunday as a Holy Sabbath, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and Him. At first it sounded kind of random to me. Of all the things to concentrate on right now, why the Sabbath?
But, after trying to create a better Sabbath day for my family, and then revising and tweaking again, I totally get it now!!! A Sunday well-spent is so fulfilling! We miss out on a lot of good that can happen on that day if we’re not diligent about our Sundays.
How to create a Delightful Sabbath: (problems and solutions)
Problem #1: Rushed and late to get to church: with hair combed, shoes on (and still on when we pull into the parking lot), bag packed with enough activities to keep the little ones busy, etc. Then struggling to keep them in their seats is… exhausting. Can I get an “Amen” here?
SOLUTION: every Saturday night I try to take care of these things:
1)What’s everyone wearing? Lay out clothes and accessories.
2)What are we eating? Lay our breakfast items, or at least have a plan.
3)What do I need to take to church? Is my lesson printed? Is my church bag packed? Rotate quiet activities for the church bag so kids’re more likely to be content.
4)My most helpful strategy: Figure out how long it takes you to get everyone ready, and once you’re at that time (it’s 7:55 am for our 9:00 church), focus on doing only those things that need to be done to get there! I like that it’s pretty predictable that we should be on-time if I’m quick and focused.
Problem #2: Having an extra parent around during the day actually messes with the flow I’m used to! I’m used to being the only parent around during the day: when a child cries, I go to that child at the time I asses that they need me. Add another adult, and it’s a little more complicated. Who is on duty? I subconsciously think , “Oh hubby’s home… He can take care of that fire...”- and he’s actually thinking. “Where is Jenn!? I am trying to take a poop!” or “I am totally enjoying this msn article”, or “I was just about to hop in bed for my well-deserved Sunday nap!” We’re totally lucky to have an awesome husband/dad around, but this element of uncertainty throughout the day, though small, is taxing.
SOLUTION: Sit down with your partner and talk about how you can make it an enjoyable day of rest for both of you. Here’s what we do: when we get home from church, we all get out snacks, chat for a bit, and then make a plan for who gets their “me time” when. We usually need to switch off which spouse goes first and for how long since no 2 Sundays look alike. We totally use the white noise app on our phones to try to drown out the inevitable fighting between siblings etc. If possible, we try to use our one-on-one time with the kids to be outside.
Problem #3: We make a bigger mess on Sundays since we are home all day and have time to graze through the entire leftover situation in the fridge, and are curiously always in the mood for various snacks from the pantry. Are we on the same page about cleaning it up? Nope.
SOLUTION(s): Sundays are a great day for everyone to work together to clean up. Start a fun tradition for Sundays after dinner. Turn on some music, and incentives for fast cleaning aren’t a bad call sometimes! Another mom shared with me that their family enjoys having a special meal on Sundays and everyone knows that you don't get any dinner until you've helped with the preparing! So everyone works along-side each other, and the same is true for clean-up. Love that :)
Problem #4: Feelings of so much I’d like to do on Sunday... Each week I can only get to a small percentage of it because I feel like I'm just responding to small fires, being a little cooped up and don't have the structure other days have.
- My husband and I are shooting for unplugged Sundays. No using the internet- we have 6 days to find out the latest on facebook etc. and 1 day to take a refreshing break and let our minds think about what He wants us to do to progress. We’re not perfect, but this app has helped me a ton (actually every day of the week! it’s called Stay Focused and you allot how much time you want to spend on instagram, facebook, pinterest and chrome--- or whatever you’re downfall might be… and then it kicks you out! LOVE it). We don’t completely unplug- the kids sometimes watch the awesome bible videos that’re on youtube etc.
- That “snack-chat” I mentioned earlier about planning with my husband? Yeah, we also use that time to talk about what we will do for service that day and plan out what needs to happen to make-it-happen. Last Sunday I dumped a bunch of ingredients in my breadmaker and viola, fresh hot bread to take to a neighbor :)
- I got these cute little journals for my girls (ages 2 and 4) and it has been a fun tradition to pull them out every week. Ideal time has been when I’m breaking up a fight… Kids: “She’s hitting me!!!” Mom: “Hey wanna pull out your journals?” Both kids: “Yay!!!!!!” I let them tell me what they want me to write down about their week or church that day. We’re going on week 6 or so, and they still REALLY look forward to it. I let my 4 yo try to write a few words on her own with me helping her to spell, and the 2 yo can scribble with a pen with me sitting by her. Sometimes I write down cute things they said or did as well. (The BEST journal for recording their cute quotes for the day-to-day life tho is this one!)
My attitude about Sunday activities changed when Elder Nelson said in general conference April 2015: “the Sabbath is a sign between you and God” (quoting Ezekial). Rather than wondering “Is this activity ‘Sabbath appropriate’?” It is easier for me to ask: “What do I want to show the Lord on his day?” It has actually both broadened and narrowed my activities into things that are truly better for me and my family.
I remember one Sunday in April, I was in my bathroom looking for something under my bathroom sink. Since we’d moved in I hadn’t found the energy or time to organize under there. I actually had the mental clarity to attack this “ job” at that moment, and normally I would dismiss it saying to myself it wasn’t Sabbath appropriate activity. But I thought about it: it would take me 10-15 minutes and I would be a more organized mother and wife for my family, AND I had a quiet moment to ponder as I sorted through things. (so theraputic, right?) I went for it and I really felt like that was a lot of the point that Elder Nelson was trying to teach us. Our Sabbath activities aren’t a sign for you to anyone else, but a special time to progress into the person He wants us to be. I felt great about it actually! The main goals are: to do his work, rest, and strengthen relationships with others in a way that we’d feel comfortable if he happened to magically appear at that moment. “Oh hey! Wanna see what I was up to? Love you :)”.