“A man works from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done.” Although this saying does not describe the work patterns of my husband, this saying is true when you view Sunday as the Christian sabbath. While a man who works outside the home can accomplish a complete cessation of his vocation for one day each week, which mothering duties do not fall under the category of “duties of necessity and mercy”?
Sunday is the Hardest Day
When my older children were all little, I remember feeling a little resentful of the Sunday bustle. Every other day of the week we could take our time getting everyone dressed and ready (and take it we did!) and there was no need to be out the door at a certain time. Sunday quickly became a very stressful, dreaded day. After one particularly bad day, I think it was the day I discovered I had worn one black shoe and one navy shoe, I realized we needed some strategies to make Sunday a day of joy and not suffering.
First we divided our irritations into categories. There was the Sunday morning scramble to get everyone fed, dressed, and out the door in a timely manner. There were behavior issues during the worship service that caused stress. For some reason the moment morning worship is complete, our troops are starving, so there was the meal to organize after the service. Finally there was the question of what to do with the rest of the day to make this a day our children look forward to.
What is the Solution?
The solution to the Sunday morning scramble was twofold: to prepare everything the day before and to keep a cheerful spirit in the midst of it. At four o’clock on Saturday afternoon, the church prep begins. We lay out everyone’s clothes — including socks and shoes that match — and begin bathing little ones. Before I had young, sharp minds helping me, I made a list on an index card of exactly what items were needed in the diaper bag, three sizes of diapers, freshly filled sippy cups, the rod, and so on. Making sure car seats are into the right vehicle and the proper seat is another detail we check on Saturday. Of course there are often stacks of items to return to other families and information papers to hand out, and these are put in the van the night before.
The answer to dealing with behavioral issues was training exercises. Consistency during family worship and the dinner table helped several of the children learn to control the “squirrellies.” A few children needed more specific, focused training. Lining up chairs like pews and listening to audio sermons while practicing church service behavior went a long way to gaining the attention we desired. It was worth the effort to give ourselves the opportunity to stay in the service, provide less distraction to our fellow church goers, and I think the children participate and gain more when they have learned to control their own distractions.
On Sunday, one of our major changes in routine is to have our large meal mid-day. This change serves to emphasize the celebration aspect of the day. It also helps me as we are so full from our dinner that we eat a very light supper in the evening (read: no cooking). In order to have a large meal prepared in a timely manner, I developed a short list of slow-cook recipes that became our standard Sunday fare. Emphasizing the celebratory aspect of the day, we often have a roast, one of our more expensive meals. Some recipes require preparation which we do on Saturday night.
Sundays became an important day for fellowship. “Who’s coming over?” is the common question on the way home from church. Whether with other families or just us, we love spending time together. We adults also like to slip off for a nap with the little ones if we can manage it.
Our evening meal is a light supper, but we like to incorporate fun foods such as chips and salsa, crackers and cheese, or popcorn, simple, special finger foods served on paper products. Sunday is also our day to enjoy special beverages. We have wine with dinner, pop for the kids, and Steve likes to experiment with fancy drink mixes. I like to sample his experiments. On Sunday evenings the pipes come out, especially in the summer.
To enjoy this special time, someone has to spend the time and effort during the week to get ingredients and items into the home. With a little forethought and planning you can make the Lord’s Day a day of rest and gladness for yourself and your family.
This article first appeared in Every Thought Captive magazine.
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