Monday, August 31, 2009

Is there a recovery program for the day of rest?

There really should be.

In our family, we’ve tried hard to follow the commandment to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

For us, that means first and foremost going to church, to worship God and to learn His gospel. But beyond that, we try to spend the day doing only things that we feel will bring us closer to Him and closer together as a family. We read scriptures, play games, go for walks or bike rides, we read books and listen to uplifting music, and we (meaning the girls) watch pre-approved (by Mom & Dad) “Sunday shows”. Veggie Tales, Signing Time, and those free-if-you-listen-to-the-5-minute-shpiel Living Scripture videos are the norm, but we’ve enjoyed some good family time watching Planet Earth and The Muppet Show as well.

We’re somewhat flexible about what we do and don’t do on Sundays. We try to avoid working, but how you define “work” is pretty broad. We don’t shop, eat out, or buy gas, we don't build furniture or paint the house, and we try not to do anything that would cause other people to work, either. But we sometimes go to the garden and harvest the fruits of our labors, and if we pull a few weeds while we're there, well, we're just beautifying the land, right? And we did spend the last two Sunday afternoons making salsa, so make of that what you will. As a general rule, we don’t do playdates or go to birthday parties on Sundays, although we have made a couple of exceptions when circumstances call for it (the Orthodox Jewish friend, for example, who wasn’t going to have a party on a Saturday, ever.)

However, one type of work that seems to be a given to avoid on Sunday is cleaning the house.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s part of the general idea of that 4th Commandment. I know my thoughts are certainly not centered on Christ while I’m cleaning the bathroom or shouting at the kids to pick up their stuff. But I’m starting to think there’s a fine line between keeping the Sabbath day holy and keeping the mother’s sanity whole.

See, when we don’t clean up on Sunday, I end up hating life on Monday. The house is an overwhelming disaster and I have no motivation to do anything about it. None whatsoever. And when the house is messy, it makes me grumpy. And we all know, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

So now I’ve started dreading Sundays. Because they’re no longer really a day of rest. Because I know we’ll make a big breakfast in the morning (church doesn't start until 1:00; we can do this), which we will then not clean up because we’ll be too busy hurrying to get everyone and the lessons they're supposed to be teaching ready for church. I know I’ll sit though church with three restless children who really do love the Lord but would rather worship Him in their own way, a way as yet undefined, but which clearly doesn’t involve sitting on a bench listening to grown-ups talk (I’m willing to bet it sounds to them like all the adults in the Peanuts shows.) I know we’ll come home to a house that was torn half apart while they waited for church time, only to tear the rest of it apart while they wait for bedtime. I know Chris and I will inevitably sit around reading or working on the computer, on the surface simply enjoying our day of rest, but really surreptitiously avoiding the kitchen clean-up, each hoping the other will decide to tackle it. And then we’ll wrestle the kids into bed, and while Chris is reading stories I’ll do a half-hearted pick-up, loading up and starting the dishwasher at least, knowing full well that Monday will be painful, but feeling powerless to stop it. It’s a vicious cycle.

It seems to me this whole “day of rest” business is just being taken too far around here. I’m all for following the Lord’s example and laboring for six days while resting on the seventh. But I’m pretty sure He didn’t do two days’ worth on the first day. I know in a few hours, when I make my daily “Jobs time!” shout-out, there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and not just from me. How do other people with kids make it though Sundays, into Monday, with their sanity still intact? I’d really like to know.

And now, as I have written all I have to say on the matter, I have no more excuses. Time to tackle me some mess.


  1. I'm right there with ya. I think we should have three day weekends. Have Mondays off so that we can get things back together after Sunday. But alas, that will not happen. So I've trained myself that Monday morning is clean up time. I don't do anything else until the house is in order again.

  2. When I have MYYY kids, they will not make messes on Sundays. They will read scriptures, sing hymns and write letters to their grandparents and/or elderly people at a rest home. They will make me breakfast and then clean it up quietly so as to not disturb my daily nap. And, if they have any extra time in between all of those things they will draw pictures of bibilical scenes quietly while humming primary songs to themselves.

    So, really, I have no advice for you except to have imaginary children.

  3. Wait, there's a "day of rest"? What? Tell that to my clutter!

  4. Two words...Pop Tarts. All the thrill of a homemade breakfast, none of the cleanup:)

  5. Wow, I had no idea that Mormons kept the Sabbath like Jews. It seems like mainline Christianity has all but given up that practice!

    As a child, we didn't have any kind of child care or Sunday school either during the meetings at the Kingdom Hall. It DID sound like the Charlie Brown adults and I remember falling asleep a lot. I really appreciate how Keira can attend Sunday School while we are in the sanctuary. It makes for happy kids and parents! -John

  6. John, as a parent I would love it if the girls could go to Sunday School while Chris and I sat and enjoyed the service! But as someone who works with the children's classes, I appreciate that we do the Sunday School stuff afterwards so I can still actually attend the service, even if it means attending it with my kids.

  7. I am right there with you. We usually do a major cleanup on Saturday, and it frustrates me to be doing another major cleanup on Monday.

  8. Allison, every single thing you said came as if it was straight from my own mouth. So yeah. I don't have any solutions. Just a horse voice by Monday night (from all the yelling Sunday night and all day Monday about what a disaster the house is and why is no one else helping me clean it up??????).

  9. The only thing I would add after a loud and resounding "AMEN!!!" is skip/simplify the big meal. I know you know that my sibblings have complained loudly for years about the pot roast dinner we had every Sunday. But my mom did it because she didn't have the time/energy/desire to do anything other than stick something in the crock pot. Now that I have to deal with Sundays, I couldn't agree more.

    For better or worse it took my dad's stroke for them to fix different meals on Sundays. Some better, some worse.


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