How to Make the Sabbath a Delight (For Both You and Your Kids!)
Even as a little girl, I really liked Sundays. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was always heard resounding throughout our house, and I enjoyed going to Sunday school and spending time with my family. Those feelings of love for the Sabbath have always been important to me. However, last year I noticed I wasn’t relishing in the Sabbath like I once did. Sunday had become somewhat of a day of survival.
My husband had early (and late) meetings and I was left to get the kids and myself ready, my lesson prepared, snacks and activities for the kids to do during church, friends picked up…the list goes on and on…and at times my attitude turned into, “just get through the day.” The Sabbath did not always feel like I day of rest; it felt stressful. I knew these feelings were not right and I wanted to change, but didn’t really know how. I couldn't excuse myself from my Sabbath responsibilities, but even more I wanted the Sabbath day to feel like it used to for me, a day of happiness and peace and rejuvenation.
Then I came upon one of my church leader's, Russell M. Nelson, talks entitled “The Sabbath is a Delight.” In it he referenced a POWERFUL scripture (Ezekiel 20:12) and his commentary was,
“I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, “What sign do I want to give to God?” That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear.”
As I pondered over these words, it was like a weight had lifted off my shoulders! My activities on the Sabbath didn’t have to be complicated or frustrating—they just had to be consistent with my love toward God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Now I'm going to change gears for just a minute—and I promise it will make sense in the end! Picture this…it’s your birthday! You wake up and start to make breakfast as one by one, each family member comes into the kitchen and goes about their everyday routine. The kids head off on the bus, you kiss your husband good-bye, and the house gets quiet. As you spend the rest of the day with the little ones feeding, cleaning, running, and all the rest of the day-to-day tasks, you start to feel a little forgotten. "Hmm," you think, "maybe they are pretending they don’t know it’s my birthday because they have a surprise party planned!" That must be it. So you go about the rest of your day thinking of what they must be planning. Then comes the chaos of kids coming home, homework, dinner…and still nothing. Then there's bed time routine and before you know it the house is quiet and your husband is tired and says he needs to get to bed early that night. So you prepare a bubble bath and soak your woes away, feeling totally forgotten and unappreciated. It was your day, and you were forgotten.
Feels pretty rotten right? Well guess what friends—the Lord has a day too. And He wants us to celebrate it! He asked us to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” However, unlike us, God's disappointment wouldn’t stem from feelings of being forgotten, they would be because of our lost opportunity to draw closer to Him, learn of Him, and have His spirit to be with us.
Remember, “the Sabbath was made for Man, and not man for the Sabbath." God created this Day for US to remember HIM for our own benefit. Again from Elder Nelson's talk,
"He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal. God gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief.”
As Elder Nelson so beautifully put it,
“Faith in God engenders a love for the Sabbath; faith in the Sabbath engenders a love for God. A sacred Sabbath truly is a delight."
So how do we create a home and atmosphere of celebration and love of God on the Sabbath? How do we make the Sabbath a delight?
In our home we realized that most importantly we had to involve everyone in the undertaking. Just because I wanted my Sabbath to be special wasn't enough. Our children were not on board until we took them up to the mountains and had a discussion about why it was important to keep the Sabbath day holy. In our discussion I used the analogy of the forgotten birthday, after that they had oodles of ideas as to why and how we should celebrate the Sabbath. Our home has changed because the Sabbath day is now different for us. I'm so grateful for the inspired counsel (and for our kids being on board!) that has made the Sabbath a real delight! As we've changed our Sundays we've found a few ideas that have helped us, which I hope can help you and your family too! Here are 10 ideas, some of which are staples in our home, and a few that we can't wait to try:
1 | FAMILY WORSHIP
First and foremost we give our utmost to make it to church on Sundays. If we are traveling we try to find a congregation to meet with. My Mom used to always say "The Lord knows His people by where they are found on Sunday." That has always stuck with me.
2 | FAMILY DINNER + DISCUSSION
As a mother, this is a favorite of mine. I love to learn what my kids are gleaning from their Sunday School classes. We make a point during dinner to go around the table and talk about what we learned that day in church. We have gotten some pretty comical answers, like, “I learned that I get to have a pet dolphin in heaven, and I’ll be able to talk to her!” It is a fantastic time to learn from them and also to bear testimony of the things I learned from my Sabbath day worship.
3 | SUNDAY TREATS
What’s a good celebration without treats right? I don’t usually make treats during the week, so our whole family looks forward to this tradition. It’s simple. We make a fun treat like maybe some of this goodness...(Lemon Cheesecake Bars found here)
And even better we make sure to double the batch, then we get to enjoy some, and then take the rest to a family or person who needs a little sunshine in their lives.
4 | SUNDAY "CAN'S"
Instead of focusing on what we “can’t” do, I love this idea to recognize the things the kids “can” do. This mom created a list of Sunday “cans” and put them on popsicle sticks for the kids to choose from when they need ideas.
5 | SCRIPTURE DOODLE
One of my favorite things to do on Sundays is to take extra time to dig into the scriptures. I wanted to give my kids an opportunity to do the same, in a way where they could focus and think more about what they're reading, and I can't wait to make these into scripture books with my kids!
6 | NATURE WALK
One way we feel closer to God, and worship Him more fully is by being in His creations. I always feel a sense of reverence when I'm in the flowers, mountains, or by a river, and it's a good chance for us to talk as a family too! We love using this ABC board to keep the kids busy as we walk:
7 | GOSPEL RIVER JUMP
Place stones, pillows, dish towels across the living room floor. These are the “spaces”, and you must answer a gospel question in order to jump to the next space. I always have a surprise at the end. I usually would just wing it with the questions until I found this awesome list of gospel related questions!
8 | CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES
Sunday is the perfect day for us to reconnect and call family and friends. When we were away from our families while my husband was at law school, one of our favorite traditions was always calling at least one set of grandparents on Sundays.
9 | SUNDAY BOX
Something that has been a lot of fun in our home is to have a special "Sunday Box." This can include games, stories, activities, costumes (really the possibilities are endless!) but these things are special and only to be used on Sunday.
10 | CREATE YOUR OWN TRADITIONS
Sunday is a good day to spend time together in family planning. Not only for the upcoming activities, but also to plan what you want to do to make the Sabbath a delight for you and your family. For more ideas Pinterest is always a gold mine, but I also love www.sabbathideas.org as a resource!
Being proactive about how I am spending my Sabbath has not only helped me feel that the Sabbath is a delight, but my family as well.