When I was a teenager and young adult I LOVED Sunday. Being a mom has altered my Sunday scene and Sundays gradually became harder to enjoy, which made me sad. Something needed to change! Thankfully, in the summer of 2015, I made huge strides in understanding the immense purpose of the Sabbath. I noticed a repeated theme of keeping the Sabbath a holy day. It didn’t matter whether it was a big stake conference, or the normal presidency message: our leaders kept choosing the same topic! The message came strong and clear to me: the Sabbath day is important. As this statement kept coming again and again, and AGAIN, I was a little bewildered as to why the Sabbath?
Regardless of your belief system, I wholeheartedly believe that everyone can benefit from an intentional Sunday to start off the week. My own belief system teaches that Sunday is a Holy Sabbath, a day of rest and worship. Resting and worshiping are not easy to come by as a mom to three young kids! This takes effort and creativity to figure out a way to make it work for your own family.
After trying to create a better Sabbath day for my family, and then revising and tweaking again, I remember one particular Monday morning, my husband and I said to each other in passing, “Yesterday felt like the perfect Sunday!” We nod in agreement, feeling satisfied that our positive efforts to make Sunday feel different worked! I now understand two important things about Sunday that I didn’t previously know:
1) A Sunday well-spent as a family is so fulfilling! We miss out on doing a lot of good that day if we don’t have a clear intention for the Sabbath.
2) The activities we do on the Sabbath are individual and they are a sign between YOU and the LORD, and no one else.
How to create a Delightful Sabbath: (some problems and solutions)
Problem #1: No matter what time church is at (whether it’s 9am, 1pm or otherwise), getting out the door on time is always stressful.
To get everyone’s hair combed and looking nice, shoes on (and still on when we pull into the parking lot) and the bag packed with enough activities to keep the little ones busy to name a few. Then struggling to keep these little people in their seats is… exhausting. Can I get an “Amen” here?
Every Saturday night take care of these things:
- What’s everyone wearing? Did we leave the church shoes at grandmas? Does everyone have a clean outfit? –Early church: Lay out clothes and accessories before bed.
- What are we eating? Do we want to throw something in the crockpot for dinner? Have a plan! —Early church: Lay out breakfast items.
- 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 are more likely to be content. (My fave church bag toys are pictured below). Stock up on some church bag essentials the easy way… Amazon! Click here for our easy affiliate links: Melissa and Doug stained glass (*on sale). Water wow economy pack. Boogie boards ($5 off).
- My most helpful strategy: Figure out how long it takes you to get everyone ready. Once you know how long, (it’s one hour and 10 minutes before church begins for us!), focus ONLY on doing those things that need to be done to get there. I love that if I’m QUICK and FOCUSED for that time, that it’s predictable: we CAN be on time!
Problem #2: Having an extra parent around during the day actually messes with the flow I’m used to.
(Anyone else struggle with this?) I’m used to being the only parent around during the day: so when a child cries, I go to that child at the time I assess if they actually 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 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.
Sit down with your partner and talk about how you can make Sunday an enjoyable day of rest for both parents. 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 two Sundays look alike. We totally use the white noise app on our phones to try to drown out the inevitable fighting between siblings etc. Ideally, we can use our one-on-one time with the kids playing outside!
Problem #3: We make a bigger mess on Sundays, which disturbs the serene feeling I’m going for.
Since we are home most of the day, we have time to graze through the entire leftover situation in the fridge, and seem to always be in the mood for various snacks from the pantry. Are we on the same page about clean up? Nope.
Since I am still struggling with this, I’ve brainstormed a few different tactics:
- Start an after-dinner tradition that includes turning on some of your favorite church music and no one leaves the kitchen until everything is clean!
- Use Sundays as a teaching day to reinforce your ideal daily routine. I have TONS of routine chart ideas here for visual little ones! The conversation in your kitchen might sound like this: “After lunch we all help put the dishes in the dishwasher! This is what it looks like… Jace, you bring your plate over to the sink like this!” etc. “Husband, could you put a few things away with me?”
- Use a special treat as a reward for cleaning up an area, and let it be your Sunday tradition. We’ve used these cute Milk Magic straws as a fun activity to look forward to after church every Sunday—now that I think about it, In 2017 we might start a new part to the “Sunday straw” tradition: you get the straw after you’ve cleaned up ten items!
- This year, I plan to incorporate a few things on Sundays to make it feel like a special day to retreat from the norm. Here is some brainstorming:
- Have instrumental/zen music on! Music is powerful to change your mood.
- Light a yummy smelling candle. I forget to most days, but Sunday is a great day to use aromatherapy 🙂
- Give yourself time to just “be” then go to a quiet room and meditate for a few minutes.
Problem #4: I’d like to do so much on Sunday and sometimes I only get to… well, none of it.
Create space for the good to fit in! Here are some ideas to help:
- My husband and I are shooting for unplugged Sundays. We have six days to find out the latest on Facebook etc. and one 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 (android) has helped me a ton. App detox allows you to allot yourself on how much time you want to spend on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Chrome— or whatever your downfall might be… and once time is up- the app kicks you out! LOVE using this app every day of the week… To clarify, on Sundays we don’t completely unplug- the kids can watch the awesome Bible videos on Youtube.
- Let something go that you don’t want to worry about on Sundays. Maybe it’s making beds, an easier meal than usual, or letting dishes pile in the sink for a day. Give yourself an intentional break and enjoy it!
- Here are some fun traditions that may help fill your day with good:
- 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. We’ve brought flowers to our local nursing home, made treats for neighbors, and visited people that would enjoy the company.
- I got these cute little journals for my girls (ages 2 and 4) for $1.99 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 six or so, and they still REALLY look forward to it. I let my four year old try to write a few words on her own with me helping her to spell, and the two year old 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! I wrote a quick post about my love for it here.)
- Make time for one-on-one “special time” for each of your kids. A whole post on the benefits of “special time” here: https://mommyconvos.com/one-on-one-special-time-with-your-kids/
- The first Sunday of the month, we like to do interviews with dad. We let the kids talk with dad about what they are into, what worries them- whatever. We think it’s a good thing to build a normalcy of talking one-on-one about important topics as they grow older in a relaxed, loving environment.
- Enjoy the outdoors with your family taking a walk, story-time on a picnic blanket, or a game running around in the yard.
- Play board games together regularly on Sunday. Need some ideas? Mommy Convos’ favorite games are mentioned in these posts: here, here, and here!
- Have a family meeting to go over the plans for the upcoming week, instruct on things that need attention, and have fun together. The famous parenting expert Amy McCready thinks weekly family meetings are an incredible tool, and so do we!
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?”
My attitude about Sunday activities changed. That scripture actually both broadened and narrowed my activities into things that are truly better for me and my family.
One Sunday in April, I was in my bathroom looking for something under my cluttered bathroom sink. Since we’d moved into our home I hadn’t found the energy to organize there. At that moment, I actually had the mental clarity to attack this “ job” at that moment. Normally I would dismiss it saying this isn’t a Sabbath appropriate activity. But then I thought, this will take me 10-15 minutes and I will be more organized mother and wife for my family. AND I had a quiet moment to ponder as I sorted through things. (Soo therapeutic, right?) I went for it.
One of the main points Elder Nelson is trying to teach is: our Sabbath activities aren’t a sign from you to anyone else, but a time to progress into the person He wants us to be. The main goals of Sunday are: to do His work, rest, and strengthen relationships with others in a way that we’d feel comfortable if He happened to appear in our home at that moment. We want to be able to say with a smile, “Oh Hey! Wanna see what I’m up too? Love you!” 😉
Do you know a mom that’s struggling with a new Sunday Schedule? Share this post, or invite her to our facebook group! This week, a bunch of moms shared great tips on how to make 1pm church work when your toddler naps at 1:30! Check it out and have a great week!