A day of rest

September 7, 2008 | 49 comments

I don’t know when it happened, but sometime over the past year Sunday somehow morphed into my big work day of the week. I’m in charge of the finances for our household, and it’s increasingly hard to find time where I can hole up in my office and focus on paying bills and reconciling bank statements during the week — it’s so much easier to just wait until the weekend when my husband is around to help with the kids. And since Saturdays often end up getting filled with house maintenance or socializing, that leaves me with Sunday to do all the work.

My husband remarked this morning about how peaceful he feels each week after receiving the Eucharist; I commented that I am often at my most stressed out in the hours after Mass on Sundays because of all the work I have to do. And then I remembered: isn’t it high on the list of the 10 Suggestions that we don’t work on the Sabbath? (What? They’re not suggestions?!)

I’ve been thinking today about how frighteningly easily I’ve blown off the Commandment to make Sunday a day of rest. I need to make a change…yet it’s surprisingly difficult in our 24/7 society where it seems like we’re constantly pulled in all different directions. (It also doesn’t help anything that Sunday was never anything other than another weekend day for the first 28 years of my life, so I have some pretty strongly ingrained habits there.)

Has anyone else every struggled with this? Any practical tips for restructuring an active household to make Sunday a true day of rest? I know it can be done, and I thought it might be inspiring to hear from some folks who have made it happen.


  1. Rocks In My Dryer

    I struggle with this too. I’m ALWAYS stressed on Sundays, from the time I wake up, until I go to bed. And honestly, I don’t really know what to do about it. I rationalize that it’s just my season of life; I’m a busy household manager, and it makes sense to use the first day of the week to prepare things for my family. But surely, there must be a better way. When you find it, let me know.

  2. Heather

    Think of it this way. We now have freedom from the law in Christ, because of Christ’s death and resurrection. However, we are called to obey , out of love for God, when He convicts us of somethign. Therefore, it is not law saying we should have a day of rest but a loving Father suggesting it out of His love for us. Therefore, we no longer have to have a “day of rest” in the Old Testament law terms, however we should set aside a day to pause in our work and to rest in Him. In otherwords there is no longer a legalism side of it but there is a “you really should put all that burden down and trust Me (God)” side.

    In our case my husband and I have different days where we rest from that work which is most burdensome to us –which is between us and God. For instance, if somethign is stressing us then we lay it down on that day. In my case it is usually Monday since Sunday is the day that most clients contact me, meanwhile for my husband it is usually Saturday but that is subject to change–and on those days he does not do anything that for him is work. A priest or pastor is not able to take a “day of rest” on Sunday therefore they rest on another day, and now that we are free in Christ, we too are free to rest when God calls us to (though I can tell you, if God calls you to you might want to listen–both my husband and I have been taken completely out of commission for a week or more when we have ignored Him–not out of vengeance mind you , or even punishment, but for that much needed rest. :))

  3. Dominique

    If doing the finances on a Sunday feels “off” then you should probably schedule it for another day.

    However: it’s not to say that you shouldn’t do work on Sunday. The injunction is “to keep holy Sabbath”, after all. Sometimes, rest means doing something different from the ordinary.

    Finally: Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

  4. SuburbanCorrespondent

    Plan a fun family thing – that way you go to Mass, have lunch, do a field trip (all while changing gazillion diapers and managing naps), and then it’s dinner time. Not exactly a day of peaceful repose; but, at the ages your kids are, that isn’t a reasonable expectation.

    It is very, very hard to keep the Sabbath holy.

  5. Jordana

    We struggle a great deal with making Sunday a day of rest. We haven’t been perfect in resting, but recently we’ve been doing some what better. Since my fifth child was born in July, we’ve had to change a lot of old habits — especially since we started up our homeschooling year.

    Now I need my husband’s help more than ever. He’s taken over the bills and balancing the checkbook; he works on them a little in the mornings before going to work. Saturday has become our family errand running day instead of the play day. When we “played” on Saturdays, we often found ourselves catching up on getting everything done on Sundays. Since Saturday has explicitly become our day to work around the house, buy groceries and generally get things done, Sundays feel a lot more free for rest.

    Working first and resting second is always the ideal, but does not come naturally to me at all. But I certainly can rest more easily without the worries of the million things left to do weighing me down. Of course, with five children there are always a million things left do, so I do have to exercise some mind control to ignore the job list. But if the laundry isn’t done for one day and the floors aren’t swept, it won’t kill us. If I put it off for two days in a row? Now that’s another story!

  6. Mary-LUE

    Well, as far as actually accomplishing a certain number of items in a given time frame, I am not much help. Some thoughts in general though:

    If the kids are old enough, tell them that Sunday is not a work day. They will hold you to like no one else!

    You could consider doing the day of rest thing beginning Saturday evening. Kind of a sundown to sundown thing. This helps you start preparing for worship the night before and gives you most of the day on Sunday. After sundown, you can still get some work done.

    Finances allowing, schedule a baby sitter for four hours once a week for the sole purpose of getting those other things done sometime between M-F.

    A Sabbathesque ritual. I have friends who are Christian but have a lot of Jewish friends. They have put together their own Sabbath type ritual to do at both the beginning and the end of their rest day.

  7. Soul Pockets

    For some reason Sunday always becomes my laundry day, cleaning day, or any other work I have to get done day. I am looking forward to reading how others keep a true and peaceful Sabbath.

  8. Jen S

    Somewhere I heard a priest say that the idea of keeping the sabbath holy was to avoid drugery. In our family, I've toyed with the idea of cooking the days meals in advance, but since I LIKE to cook, chose not to do so. I use the am to do whatever home tasks I want to do–bills (we're on a mission and it no longer stresses me out), cooking, puttering in the kitchen, napping w/DD, writing on my blogs. In the afternoon, we drive to a church the next town over to attend Latin mass. This takes about 3 hrs from our day. They've just moved the potluck/apologetics & catechism class to right after that, so we will probably do that unless it interferes with DH's hockey schedule (not often, I hope). On Sunday's where there is no class, we listen to Catholic lectures or audiobooks. DH also watches football & we spend time with family — sometimes drugery, but I try to look at it differently than that.

    Between naps & eating, that is pretty much the rest of our day :).

  9. Anonymous

    My husband and I are struggling with this same issue in our family. One solution has been to offer casual hospitality (ie: friends over for simple lunches, nothing fancy) and in that way, to take the day off from “work.” One upside is that we usually squeeze a little extra cleaning in on Saturday and get to enjoy our clean house on Sunday. Along the same lines, we’ve just made an effort to extend the same hospitality to ourselves and our children: sort of inviting our own little family to just relax and renew around good meals and pleasant diversions at home. Life is good. We are blessed.

  10. Will Duquette

    Sunday has become a day of rest for me, but only over the last year. I can’t really offer any “how-to” on it, though; I just started feeling uncomfortable if I spent time working on Sunday, and so I’ve mostly stopped.

    I’ve never been one to bring work home from the office, so that’s never been an issue. “Work,” in this context, has been stuff like paying the bills or working on personal projects. Interestingly, serious study (i.e., theology) gives me no qualms.

    As to causes, I can only describe all this as a gift from God; and as to effects, I can only say that the bills manage to get paid anyway.

  11. CJ

    I thought the idea of taking a day of rest was utterly impractical. Kind of appealing in a quaint way, but just not a concept for the modern world.

    I can’t remember now when I took the plunge, but it has been such a blessing. This week I have been working like a crazy woman on my dissertation and Sunday has been looming like a beacon ahead. So nice to have a day for leisurely breakfast, Mass with my family, books with my children, knitting in between. Aaaaahhhh. I am almost ready to face the dissertation again tomorrow and there are still a few hours of Sunday left. πŸ™‚

    Practically speaking, this has often meant that Saturdays are days of hard work. My husband and I often divvy up responsibilities — he takes the kids to soccer and I stay home to pay the bills and balance the checkbook, or catch up on folding the laundry, or whatever else needs to be done. Because Sundays have been such a blessing, I find the ticking clock on Saturday to be very motivating: if I don’t finish it by Saturday evening, I will start the work week with it hanging over my head. I hate that, and mostly don’t let it happen.

    One thing that’s helpful to keep in mind is that we’re instructed to avoid “unnecessary work.” I think we have some latitude in defining necessary work — your Sundays don’t have to look like anybody else’s.

    I encourage you to try A Reckless Experiment with Sabbath Rest and keep us all posted about the results. I thought it would be terribly onerous to fit my work into six days, but now I’d never go back to spreading it over seven.

  12. bearing

    These are all good suggestions.

    I know that one thing I have been striving to do is, through planning, move the “drudgery” work a piece at a time to different days, or eliminate it. I really do mean a piece at a time.

    For example, we often wound up doing laundry on Sundays. I attacked this by making a laundry schedule — Saturday I’m supposed to wash my husband’s basket and the sheets, Monday the basket from the hall closet, etc. etc., one of the days has an “Extra load” scheduled in, and Sunday has “NO LAUNDRY” written in for it. (Actually, part of the schedule is to put one load in to wash on Sunday night before I go to bed, but I agree with the poster who said there’s precedent to start your Sabbath on Saturday night and finish it Sunday evening).

    I’d say that’s worked pretty well.

    Another small step that could be taken would be to simplify meal preparation and cleanup on Sundays (or Saturday nights), by deliberately planning something that creates little work. Make a list of your favorite easy/nonmessy recipes and rotate through them. I won’t list any here because everyone’s definition of “easy” is different when it comes to cooking. Me, the very definition of “restful” would be for my husband to take all the kids while I spent 4 hours creating a complicated French beef stew and a blueberry tarte, but I probably wouldn’t want to do it every week. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, you can make your Sabbath more restful by removing distractions one thing at a time. It’s going pretty well for us, though we have a long way to go. Speaking of which, now I have to go make the Wal-Mart list because I’m doing my quarterly shopping tomorrow. In previous times I would have done it Sunday afternoon, now I make the list Sunday evening and do it on Monday. A small improvement.

  13. Marian

    I struggle with this, too.

    One thing that does help a little on Sundays is that, for lunch and dinner, one meal is always cold cereal, and the other is always pre-formed burgers on the grill with a fruit or vegetable. Quick and easy. No thought, barely any effort.

    Usually I try not to do any work of the stressful/drudgery variety from after church until the kids go to bed. Some things, like raking (or, as I did today, picking up a dresser I’d purchased at the Goodwill store), are almost recreational for me so I go ahead. If I can, I occasionally lay down for an hour. At night, as I’m doing right now, I sit down with the kids, turn on a family video or show, do a little blog reading, and put them to bed by 9. So far, so good, right?

    And THEN, I bust it on an impossibly long list until I collapse at 2am and start the week exhausted! Very effective, huh? (On tonight’s list is catching up on homeschool logging, making a dent in school planning, catching up on a couple of weeks’ worth of bills and receipts, folding 3 big loads of laundry and starting more, changing our sheets, cleaning up stacked up homeschool papers, filling out some paperwork, figuring out what’s for dinner this week since we have obligations every night, writing a long-overdue card and, oh yes, making my TO DO list for the week! It’ll never happen, but I’ll run myself ragged trying…)

    Very restful. =} Let us know if you get any wonderful insights.

  14. Owen

    I won’t be of much help as my experience has been just the opposite. As a 20 year Protestant minister Sunday was always my busiest day. The very last thing it was was a day of rest. As we came into the Church, as a whole family, we were able to rest, really rest in the Mass. This has continued to be true even as we have now become more involved in various volunteer service ministries.

    However, when we had young kids we did make time on a Sunday to rest. One way of resting was for me to take on some of the chores that would normally go to my wife and while she couldn’t take on my usual Sunday stuff, like preaching or visiting say, she would simple things that took some of the busy out of my day. It was a way of being differently and shared busy that helped bring the other rest.

    Peace be with you.

  15. CJ

    When I posted my earlier comment I was thinking, “It’s a little like following Church teaching on contraception. I thought it was a completely wacky idea, but it has borne so much lovely fruit in my life.” At first the comparison seemed like too much of a stretch, so I deleted it from that comment. But I was reflecting on it while loading the dishwasher and I think there’s actually a real parallel.

    We live in a culture that says we must carefully control our fertility lest we not have enough resources for a new baby. As Catholics we are called instead to acknowledge God’s lordship over our bodies. We live in a culture that says we must maximize use of our time — again, we might not have enough resources if we don’t hoard them. But we are also called to acknowledge God’s lordship over our time. When we do say, “Be the Lord of my life,” in whatever domain, beautiful things can happen.

  16. Martha

    For the past 4 years, my husband and I taught 2nd grade Sunday school (you know, the big First Confession and First Holy Communion year). So we were at church from 9:30-12:30, for Mass and Sunday school, and it was NOT restful. And yet, children need to be taught, and Sunday is the time my church has set aside to do it. We made it as restful a day as we could by: 1) a very simple lunch when we got home 2)NO shopping or running errands and 3) dinner every Sunday was bacon and eggs or sausage and eggs (to make up for the fact that I never cooked a big breakfast or lunch on Sunday).

    I do pay bills after the sun goes down. I have tried not to but ended up paying enough late fees that I have decided to go with “sundown to sundown.” HTH.

  17. Kelly @ Love Well

    I have no answers, but I do have a kindred heart. Like you, I’ve been mulling over how the Sabbath looks in today’s world. I did a post on it in June. (And promised a follow-up which hasn’t come yet.) It includes a thought-provoking quote from Eugene Peterson that is slowly penetrating itself into my soul’s marrow.

    I also found this online a few weeks ago, as I continue my musing.

  18. Bonnie

    We struggle with this and don’t always get it right, but this is what we do:
    First, try to see family and friends. That way our day is structured around Mass and then the visit.
    Second, try not to go places where other people have to work. Everyone should be able to rest on the Sabbath so we try to make a point to not go out to eat, to the movies, to the store, etc. Being mindful of others helps us to watch ourselves.
    Third, sundown to sundown.
    Fourth, I pay attention to if it really feels like work to me. I like cooking and sometimes I want to clean up the kitchen. So I don’t count that as work.

  19. Nancy/n.o.e

    I think this actually relates to a post you had earlier this week(about prayer). For me a lot of this has to do with our human – and thus limited – view of time. To us, time is finite and linear, and we have the illusion that “our” time is ours to dole out among our various obligations, including God. But really, what I’ve found is that once (1) I realize that time – all time, including “my” time – is God’s time and GOD is not bound by a human definition of time, and (2) I make certain things come first (prayer, daily Mass, resting on Sunday) then I’ve given time back to God and He makes a lot more fit into time that I could. For Him, time has more than a linear dimension; it’s like it’s elastic. I don’t know if that makes any sense; I’m not explaining myself very well.

    When I decided to keep Sunday a day of rest, I started by deciding that there would be no more laundry or errands on Sundays. We either did family activities or I worked on projects that were rewarding but much lower on my priority list. For a long time, I worked on organizing our photos and photo albums. Now that my children are gone, I still make it my priority to work on a project that I otherwise don’t “let” myself do.

    Often in the evenings I plan my upcoming week, my meals and errands, and get ready for the return to life’s demands.

  20. Kathy

    I agree with CJ. I also used to believe that (with 5 kids) I had to finish up laundry, cleaning, etc., on Sunday especially when I was working full-time Monday through Friday. Amazingly, what happened when my husband and I determined to really keep the Lord’s Day was that God provided the time during the week to get all the chores done. Actually, it’s not amazing–our God keeps His promises.

    Having said that, some work on Sunday truly is necessary (at least some cooking, doing dishes, an emergency load of diapers, etc.). Also, I do putter in my yard and garden (but not something major like mowing)because I enjoy it. But I would never ask my hubby and kids to do so, because for them it would be work.

    Actually, the harder thing for me was to decide not to shop on Sundays. Again, we make an exception if it’s an absolute necessity (like running out of milk–an emergency in our house).

    So we go to Mass Sunday morning, have a picnic lunch during warm weather or a brunch during cold weather, read the paper, watch football, play a family game, have an easy evening meal, and end with our bedtime prayers.

    One final note: I’m the sort of person who truly enjoys being busy. So resting on Sunday was extra difficult at first. Our Reckless Experiment with Sunday Rest worked well. I hope that yours does, too.

  21. Allie

    A day of rest is probably a good thing, but just note that it is not commanded. The Jewish Sabbath was Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown, and nowhere does it say in the New Testament that Sunday is the Christian equivalent of the Jewish Sabbath. We meet on Sundays because Jesus was raised on a Sunday.

    That said, it couldn’t be a bad idea to have a day where you exclusively (as far as possible, that is!) commune with God, unless you become legalistic about it, I suppose.

    I hope it works out for you!

  22. Carrien

    Well, we spent a year or two keeping Jewish feast days and holidays. (Not because we are Jewish, but because Jesus was and because he was speaking to a particular group of people in a particular place and time when he lived with us and it is better to understand what he was saying to have a functional understanding of how the people he was saying it to may have thought.) And it fulfilled some home school requirements.

    Anyway, the point is we have kept Sabbath now for a year or two and this is one things that the Jewish community is really good at and that we could learn from them.

    Once the sun goes down on Friday, there is no work until the sun sets on Saturday. Some families have a closet that they put all of the work week things, briefcases, homework, etc and leave them in there until evening the next day. You bake two loaves of bread before dinner on Friday, so that there is no baking to do on Saturday and there is plenty of bread for all during the rest day. There are simple dishes, often the same from week to week that are prepared ahead of time or put in the crock pot.

    The Friday evening meal is a time to gather with family, blessings are said over children and spouses and parents, scripture is read and discussed. The activities of the day are simple, at home, and restful. We like to play board games, go for short walks, sing together, and just spend time doing nothing with family. At the end of Sabbath everyone goes outside to look for the first star and there are spices to smell and little rituals to signal the beginning of the week again. You mark the beginning, and the end.

    I won’t lie, Friday day and afternoon are hectic and full of rushing around to get everything done by sundown. But just as your prayer experiment showed you that if you purpose first to pray everything else falls into place, I have noticed that when we purpose to rest on the Sabbath the rest of the week falls into place as well.

    Also, it works well with entertaining because you just invite friends over to share the Shabbat meal with you. You are doing the work of making a special meal anyway, and the relaxing begins as soon as you all sit down to eat and continues through to the next day. (You have to try and get as much cleanup done before hand as you can, and then just leave the rest until the next night.)

    We aren’t as religious about this as many Jews are, but the experience has been instructive and helpful in so many ways. SO I thought I would share it with you in case it gives you a few ideas.

  23. Robert

    I’m afraid I don’t have anything groundbreaking to suggest, but one thing I’ve noticed that’s helped us keep Sunday a family day and a day of rest is attending the 8am Mass at our church, rather than the 10 o’clock Mass we used to attend.

    It means we have to get everything ready the night before and the kids don’t usually get breakfast beforehand (we give them a handful of Cheerios to snack on) but we’re fortunate that we live only a two blocks from our church, so we’re home by 9:15 or so. Then we make a big breakfast of pancakes or French toast. This seems to lengthen the day more than anything I know.

    Also, someone else mentioned “no drudgery.” Our favorite priest, Fr Matt (our parochial vicar) was over for a Sunday brunch last weekend and we asked him about things like cutting the lawn on Sunday, etc. (He’s newly ordained, so I’m assuming he’s pretty up to speed on this.) Father said that if you’re doing something because it’s your hobby, it’s OK that it’s a manual-labor task. For instance, at our parish, our pastor really loves to mow the soccer field in back of the parish school – so most Sunday afternoons you can find him out back on the riding mower!

    Lastly, my wife and I are very fortunate that all our families live in town and we get to see them about as often as we like. But we also actively solicit invitations to Sunday dinners. We’ll call around in the morning after returning home from Mass and see who’s interested in getting together and who’s willing to host and what we’re each willing to make. At first I thought this was imposing a bit, but I’ve come to realize that family dinners won’t happen without someone pushing for them and coordinating them – and since everyone loves them so much, it might as well be us. (Note: sometimes, Sunday dinner = Bob Evans.)

  24. Sara

    It has taken me YEARS to begin to enjoy Sundays! I used to feel so stressed by the things I needed to do for the upcoming week, and, sadly, the lack of routine.

    Dh will occasionally pay the bills and I’ll do planning for some activity if necessary, but he says that mental labor is okay—like homework. It’s menial labor we shouldn’t be doing—like the lawn or laundry. I try very hard to have the laundry done Saturday since I can’t skip 2 days in a row at my house!

    I also try to make a nice dinner that is also simple to prepare because I don’t think I should be slaving in the kitchen while everyone else relaxes!

    Part of the key to a successful Sunday, I think, is planning ahead and keeping on top of things during the week instead of saying, “I’ll do that on Sunday.”

  25. J

    Is there such a thing as a day of rest with kids? Sometimes I find an hour with the home accounts is a nice break from 3 under 6’s πŸ™‚

  26. Sarah Reinhard

    My struggle too! The only way I have found, so far, to try and battle it (and it’s ongoing) is to take small steps. Much the way I started daily prayer – and much the way I come back to the discipline of daily prayer when I’ve let it slide too much – I start with something small. One stretch I didn’t do laundry at all on Sundays. (That one is sort of seasonal – I hang clothes out much of the time in the spring/summer/fall and sometimes Sunday is the sunny day when I have to!) I have to approach it in small ways. It’s very much a work in progress for me, and sometimes I just HAVE to get some things done on Sundays. So I try to remember to offer them to God and to use my “doing” as a prayer.

    Which sounds very nice and all…but if you lived in my head you would know the flawed nature of the commentary that often goes along with it. πŸ™‚

  27. Keri Wyatt Kent

    In the Bible, the Sabbath command is one tht God gives a reason for. It's different in the two lists of ten commandments (Duet. & Exodus) First, we rest because God did in creating the world. But the second time, God says, rest because you were slaves in Egypt. Why? Because slaves cannot take a day off. Sabbath is an expression of our freedom.
    We've been keeping Sabbath for years, and it is a journey. sometimes we mess up and life gets away from us. But like any other spiritual practice, we learn it by doing it. It is amazing how productive I am on Mondays after taking a day off.
    I have some very practical tips for moms in my book breathe, and I've written a lot about this on my blog. I also have a book about Sabbath coming out in a few months, called Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity.
    Sabbath is a command, but really, it is a gift. Just like all of God's commands, it is a better, healthier way to live that brings us joy, and brings us closer to him.
    another excellent book on this is Mark Buchanan's "the Rest Of God"

  28. christine

    thanks for kicking off such a good discussion… i definitely go through phases on to what degree i honor the sabbath. however, whenever i do honor the sabbath, i am blown away by what a beautiful gift and blessing the sabbath is. it refreshes (body and soul) and the entire family.

    i think we will all differ in how we honor the sabbath — and, in some odd way, i think that makes the sabbath even more special. what is rest for one might be work for another.

  29. christine

    (continued from above post)

    in case this is useful to anyone, here are some misc thoughts on what works for our family on the sabbath. i have 3 children (kindergarten, 4th grade, 7th grade). i have loved hearing what works for others and have gotten some good ideas from these comments.

    -i stress the ‘no work’ clause for the children. for example, i will unload the dishwasher instead of having the kids do it. for right or wrong, this has made the children very invested in the sabbath πŸ™‚

    -with the same goal of showing the children what a blessing the sabbath is, i try to make the day special in little ways. for example, we usually have homemade waffles with ice cream and strawberries for breakfast.

    -my husband loves to cook and doesnt get a chance during the week. so he usually cooks the meals (which is rest for him but work for me).

    -we use the sundown-to-sundown definition of the sabbath. i read a comment once about how in the Bible, the days start at sundown – and how this can remind us that God is in charge, not us. as one goes to bed, one can remember that the day has already and God is busy with the day. when one wakes up, one can join (and help out) in God’s work. for some reason, that stuck with me.

    -i also find that the sundown-to-sundown definition connects me with nature, rather than with the man-made notion of time.

    -the sundown-to-sundown definition also helps me in a practical sense as i can start the week’s laundry, get organized for the week ahead, after the sun goes down.

    -at times, we implement “no computer time” on the sabbath – and, at times, we blow off this guideline. when we do stick to this philosophy, this is such a blessing for us – no email checking, no working (in terms of “jobs”), etc. in order for this to work, we have to remember to print out directions to events and games the night before.

    -my oldest plays on a soccer club team that has games on sunday. currently, we decided that was okay. we are somewhat using viewing this year as an experiment. many of the games are an hour or so away. i am hoping that the whole family will attend the game and then we can do some family activity in the town where the game is held (eg: hiking, sightseeing, walking on the beach, going out for a meal). yesterday, we met my brother and family after the game – and went to a vineyard and walked along the coast. we’ll see how the year goes… and reevaluate as necessary.

    -in terms of spending, i try not to buy any consumer goods (eg: food, school supplies, clothes, books) on the sabbath – but will spend money for a family activity (eg: going for a walk for ice cream, going to a museum, going out to eat).

    -i find that when i clean the house well before sat sundown, i enjoy the cleaning more than usual (i dont know if “enjoy” is the right term) as i feeling like i am cleaning for a purpose. i find the feeling of waking up to a clean, uncluttered house on sunday morning just makes the day that much more of a blessing.

    -i try to make sure my husband and i have sex on the sabbath.

  30. Sally

    Sunday always turned into my “get stuff done” day. I figured that the whole concept of a “day of rest” was obviously a case of Legalism, and who wants to be a legalist?

    However, my pastor did a sermon last year on keeping the Sabbath holy, and it kind of hit home because the only thing Sabbath-ish about Sunday for us is that we went to church.

    A large part of it for me was the temptation to make Saturday the day for visiting friends, family activities, etc., because (I hate to admit this) church cut into my day on Sunday and I wanted the WHOLE day for fun! So I was using Sunday as the catch-up-on-chores day, because in my mind it was already sort of blown because the morning was taken up with getting ready for church and actually BEING at church.

    Admitting that I was relegating Sunday to second-class weekend day because I felt that I somehow deserved an ENTIRE day to do what I wanted, vs. just having God’s leftovers … well, when I put it like THAT, it occurred to me that perhaps I had could do my chores and errands on Saturday instead!

    I’ve been trying to take back Sunday ever since. So, Saturday morning is my catch-up-on-stuff time; that is when I do stuff like vacuum, dust, mop, other odious chores, etc., and the kids have to clean their rooms. The incentive is that we can’t play til our work is done, which works reasonably well most of the time.

    The other thing is to plan something low-stress but fun to do on Sunday. That might be a trip to the beach or the park, or it might just be hanging out in the yard. The idea being that Mom and Dad are around and relaxing, rather than trying frantically to Get Stuff Done. Of course, with as many little ones as you have, nothing will be particularly low-stress, but you know what I mean. My mother told me how when she was a child, Sunday afternoons were when the family went to the park. It seemed like a practical solution when I thought about it — my grandmother had six children and was an immaculate housekeeper; no doubt she looked forward to keeping them out of the house for as long as possible on Sunday so she didn’t have to clean up after them!

    Figuring that if my grandmother could get all six of her kids to the park every Sunday afternoon, in addition to baking her own bread and raising her own chickens, I decided I could probably get my chores done before Saturday night and schedule an afternoon out with my three kids if I put my mind to it.

    I won’t say it always works, but we are doing a better job of keeping Sunday as the Day of Rest than we used to.

  31. schu

    Yes, Sunday is a day of rest. I actually would do laundry on Sunday! I enjoyed the laundry in those days! I worked all week at a high stressed long hours and tutored the child when I got home. Laundry was relaxing. I think it is in the doers eye. Also, If you have help with the family then it is your time. I always thought he would understand.

  32. Multiple Mom T

    For the money stuff, how about setting up your providers – energy, phone etc, to take the money automatically out of your checking account? We do that and I don’t ever pay monthly bills by check. We have Quicken, which downloads our checking account info daily, so I can see when Verizon got paid or the electric company or whatever. One less thing to worry about.

    But I always end of doing laundry on Sundays! πŸ˜›

  33. Anonymous

    It’s a day of rest but also a day of worship. Focusing on that aspect is key – it’s always helped me frame the day by putting something worshipful at the end of the day also. A typical Sabbath for us:

    Saturday night – make sure church clothes are ready.

    No alarm clock because I don’t work out Sunday mornings and the kids will certainly get us up in time for church. Not setting the alarm is a good start to a day of rest πŸ™‚

    If there’s time, we do a special breakfast.

    Get off to church in time for Sunday School. Sunday School, Fellowship Hour, and Worship Service and the kids are TIRED.

    Leftovers or quick lunch.

    NAP! NAP! NAP! Yep, all of us. The kids have to stay in their rooms.

    Evening worship service OR fun family activity that doesn’t require anyone else to work. So we would go to a park but not out to dinner.

    Feed kids dinner and put them down.

    My husband and I use Sunday evenings as a special time together or with friends. We’ll eat something fun and either listen to a sermon or read a book together. Often we’ll pick a sermon series or book on a topic that we’re strugggling with or thinking about – raising kids, adoption, something like that. Alternatively, a lot of times a few Christian friends come over and we relax while maybe discussing the sermon or some other topic.

  34. Maggie

    This is hard for me too, Jen. In college I would try to “rest” and not study on Sundays, but the resultant stress that I wasn’t studying enough was the opposite of helpful. It took me til senior year to strike the balance. Now that I’m working (and for the Church) it’s just as tricky, since Sundays are a real work day- youth group meetings and fellowship with families and networking with others. I’m still struggling to find the right balance. How do priests do it, I wonder?

  35. Otter Mom

    We are Christian (specifically Southern Baptist), but we feel that the Sabbath is Saturday because Jesus would have observed it on Saturday. But we don't expect everyone to agree with our opinion. However, we have figured out what works for us. Sundown Friday to Sundown Saturday. It took us a while to figure out what we want to do. We don't watch a lot of tv on Saturday, we do watch on Friday nights and we tape a few religous shows during the week to watch on Saturday – we prefer church service type programs. We don't set the alarm clock, we sleep in and then have a lesiurly breakfast. We take turns picking a movie to watch. We play games, take the dogs for a walk, ride bikes, take naps, whatever we feel like that is restful. Sometimes I'll cook dinner, but usually we will each fix whatever we feel like when we get hungry. We generally have time set aside for Bible study. No computers, no tv except occasionally to check weather reports if we need to (we live in Tornado Alley). No work, no laundry, we all have different craft interests and I really enjoy having the time on Saturday to do mine. The point is to spend time together as a family, to enjoy the time and to be restful. We try not to go anywhere, obviously medical needs have to be taken care of but we try to stay around the house & neighborhood although there are occasions such as my daughter's karate class when she has belt tests which are generally only on Saturday morning. We used to order pizza, but we've decided that it is not right to cause someone else to work for us – even if they don't celebrate Sabbath the same day or way that we do. It took me a while to stop feeling guilty for not doing laundry, etc., but now we all look forward to Saturday and the family time we share. We also seem to be getting more done on Sunday afternoons after church, since we are well-rested.

  36. Anna

    I don't have a dishwasher. I'm a poor housekeeper in general, and it is just recently that I have started to try to wash dishes after every meal instead of once a day. On Sundays, I often don't do dishes at all, in the name of Sunday rest, but this leaves a huge pile of dishes for Monday morning, and I'm pretty sure I need a better solution. I plan to start making myself wash dishes after every meal on Sunday, too, even though I don't like it much, as better than the alternative.

    One of my dilemmas with Sunday rest is that I think it might be fun to do a special brunch every Sunday (and cheaper than going out to eat, which I can't usually afford), but I don't want to clean up after it. And I don't much like cooking dinner, but I can't rely on my husband to feel like cooking dinner, either. And we can't afford to order pizza every week, and my husband doesn't usually like to eat the things that require very simple preparation or can be done beforehand, like crockpot dishes, mac&cheese, casseroles, or hot dogs.

    That's probably not very helpful to you, Jen, but maybe your readers can offer me some advice, too.

    God bless.

  37. Abigail

    Like many good habits in my life, I totally have my husband to thank on the “Sabbath rest” habit. My husband started by refusing to buy anything on Sunday. We gave up our Sunday sugar donut fixation at our favorite supermarket and buying the Sunday New York Times. His idea was that we should try to make it possible for everyone else to “rest” on the Sabbath. That means no shopping, no trips to the gas station. (Church related donuts and potlucks are obviously okay, since that is Sabbath related).

    Our second step was to force ourselves to rest from Sundown on Saturday night to 5 PM on Sunday.

    For me, it’s lovely to spend almost a full 24 hours NOT doing any laundry, not loading the dish washer.

    On Sundays we go to Mass, eat donuts in our parish hall, have brunch and then hang out in our house or doing something fun together as a family until 5 PM. Some days, when the kids have all crashed suddenly for naps, my husband and I find ourselves home without the possibility of doing any work for an hour or two. Man is that a great feeling!

    If there is a task that you really need to get to, why not schedule it for 5:30 PM on Sunday?

    SUNDAY REST is such a blessing for us Moms. We need a little chance to do no servile work for a change!

  38. Sandy

    We’ve done several different things over the years to make Sunday a day of rest. When our kids were still at home and we were active in our Protestant Church, I tried to put something in the crockpot or oven to cook while we were at church so we could come home and eat without much additional prep. Sometimes I started on Saturday night to make it happen. I didn’t do laundry on Sunday and we didn’t mow or do other yard work. Dh has always wanted a light meal on Sunday evenings, a tradition that started when he was in college and the dorm cafeteria was closed for the Sunday evening meal. He usually wants popcorn on Sunday evenings.

    One thing we struggled with was being involved in so many things at church that Sunday was as busy as a work day. We eventually quit that church and that was a small part of the reason.

    We pay bills on Thursday evenings since Dh gets paid on Fridays. We pay most of our bills online.

    I like to read on Sundays, to watch baseball or football on TV, to talk to family on the phone (“free” cell phone minutes). Sunday does take on a more special feel when we set aside our work for the day.

  39. Anonymous

    We all struggle with this one. By the time most families get ready and get out the door to church, they’ve “lost their religion!” so to speak.
    One thing that has helped us be in a more worshipful state of mind is to get all our clothes out and ironed the night before and if at all possible NOT schedule any social activities for the evening.
    Also we do NOT allow TV on sunday am. We play worship music while we are getting ready and also play it in the car on the way to sunday school.
    We do eat out for lunch( it is just easier) but we try really hard not to run a bunch of errands.
    Hope this helps.
    He looks at your heart~~~just continue to desire to obey and please Him.

  40. Michelle

    I am still very much struggling with this issue myself. Some things that have helped so far are asking my husband to take on a couple of chores to help free up my time or even to have him spend some quality daddy/ kid time at night (which he loves anyway). The other thing was that we finally broke down and invested in Quicken. Once you get it all set up it keeps track of and reconciles our accounts. It also helps to use online bill pay when ever possible. On Sundays the house isn’t always the cleanest and it’s not always a work free day but we’re definitely doing much better.

  41. Laura

    It has taken us a while to get used to not doing work on Sundays. It is a slow process. I was never big on cleaning or doing laundry on Sunday to begin with, so that wasn’t hard to change. Next we stopped doing yard work – like cutting the grass and doing large projects outside. Then we stopped doing things to prepare for the upcoming week, like business work or school planning. This now has to be done before Sunday. After that, the next big step was to try really hard not to do anything on a Sunday that causes SOMEONE ELSE to have to work. No more trips to the gas station, store, restaurants, etc. It seems radical, and we have gotten some flack for it, but it has really helped us to bring Sunday into focus. We spend the day as a family, doing things that don’t cause anyone else to have to work and that we find enjoyable. Often, part of our Sunday is taken up by a nap because we are so exhausted from the rest of the week.

    I will admit, it has been a difficult road. For the first few weeks, we just sat around and twitched thinking of all of the things we could be doing. Now, though, it is a nice break from the other six days of the week. A time to plan things with the family or with friends. As with any sacrifice, God is generous with the graces.

    If you want an interesting take on this subject, read “Look What Happened While You Were Sleeping” it is published by Caritas of Birmingham.

    God Bless!

  42. Elizabeth

    I love reading your journey, Jen. Sometimes as a life-long Christian, I take for granted the spiritual habits ingrained in my daily life. I’m so happy for the opportunity to share these with you.

    1. Because I grew up in a Christian family, my parents emphasized a complete and total day for God. This meant: no work, no sports games, not even “mental labor.” We worshiped the Lord, spent time fellowshipping with other Christians, and shared a common meal–usually with others.

    2. As an adult, I’ve maintained this tradition because if I allow myself to do other things on Sunday, the rest of my week suffers.

    3. I do not pay bills on Sunday. This is such a funny coincidence because this past Sunday I was like, oops, I gotta send off those bills…and then I remembered: wait, today is Sunday. So, I waited.

    4. I do my weekly planning on Saturday. I truly arrange my week around Sunday. Sunday is not an after-thought. Sunday is the center of my life—my worship is central to my Christian experience.

    Hope this helps!


  43. Sara

    One of the best parts about being Catholic is that when aspects of our lives feels out of sinc with God we can go to confession and ask Him for help. I bet if you confess that your Sunday routine needs to be overhauled, you’ll receive the grace to know what changes need to be made and the strength to make it happen.

  44. Joanne

    I am super late in posting but I just had a thought. I have these friends that attend a family dinner every week, there are like six or seven families that are involved and they go to each other’s homes and have something easy, like spaghetti or lasagna or something. Do you have friends that you could do that with? Or could you just make Sunday dinner a big deal just at your home? That way you could maybe be *working* but working at home, with your family around, and it would culminate in you sitting down with your family, breaking bread and saying grace. I think it’s such a good idea I am going to try it myself! πŸ™‚

  45. Luke

    I have just always taken a Sabbath. It’s fantastic. There were a couple of times in school where I had a paper or project due on Monday and it wasn’t done on Sunday, so I worked on it Sunday.

    Guess what? Every time (yes, every single time) it turned out that on Monday we got an extension. I took that as a, “Hey Luke, you can take a day off.”

    I must say, it is fantastic. They way to do it, like so many other spiritual disciplines, is just to do it and rest in God taking care of you. Highly recommended.


  46. 'Becca

    On my way to work this morning I thought of another possible approach to this situation. I am the mother of a 3-year-old and returned to working outside the home when he was a baby. In some ways, I find that my “work” is a time of “rest”: nobody on my lap pushing buttons on my computer, nobody clamoring at me to fill his demands right now (my work is mostly self-directed, and my boss is very reasonable!), a chance to focus my mind on interesting problems that have nothing to do with bodily fluids!

    So, I wonder if you could recast your financial-management time as a time of rest. Make it nice for yourself with your favorite coffee, your best working music, comfy chair, etc. Enjoy and give thanks to God for your ability to do these tasks, for this time alone, for having money. Will that help?

    1. Look for a communal Sunday meal (at church or with friends) where washing dishes doubles as a social activity or someone else washes dishes in exchange for your cooking.
    2. Do you have kids? Mine has been helping wash dishes since 17 months. He’s still not that big a help with the actual work, but he’s learning, and meanwhile he’s there to keep me company so I don’t feel like a lonely drudge.
    3. Can your husband wash the dishes? That’s the deal for my parents. I personally kind of like washing dishes, but with chores in general I’ve learned that if I’m having a problem getting a chore done and it feels like a real burden in my life, the best thing to do is trade chores with someone else in the house–look for something HE has trouble managing and you could do better!
    4. Minimize dishes by having each person use the same drinking glass all day, etc.
    5. Rinse dishes and stack neatly ASAP after using. If you have a double sink, use one side for dirty dish storage and keep the other free for washing things, draining pasta, etc. Don’t let anyone run water into the stacked dishes. This makes the process of setting up to wash dishes much less repulsive.

  47. Anna


    Thanks. I like the communal Sunday meal idea. I do have kids, and the oldest is 5, but in our small kitchen they tend to get in the way more than they help. Although making it into a family event might make it more cheerful. My husband isn’t likely to do the dishes, but he might cook some of the time.

  48. Kerry

    I’m late in reading this…and haven’t read through all the replies, so, forgive me if I repeat another’s thoughts.

    Something that has helped me is to take a jewish approach to the sabbath by starting my “day of rest” the evening before. So, my day of rest lasts from Sat. evening to Sunday evening. That gives me a chance to do all those little jobs and chores that need to be finished before the start of a new week. (Of course I could do them on Saturday, but that just doesn’t happen for me.)

  49. Jenny

    I've been thinking a lot about this myself lately. Especially the part about living in a 24-7 society and basically never feeling like it's okay to stop working & rest. That is not to say I am a workaholic, just that there is no regular time that I can count on not working. I liked what I saw at Like Mother, Like Daughter here: http://ourmothersdaughters.blogspot.com/2009/03/let-me-tell-you-one-thing-about-order.html

    I found the comments interesting regarding the important thing being taking a day of rest – but it is not necessarily required to be Sunday . . . food for thought. It's nice to have the day of rest when Dad is home, though.

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