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.