I’ve always thought it would be nice to really celebrate Sunday like a “sabbath”— not just with Church or a break from school or work, but like a true holiday. After the birth of our first child, I realized that this was not simply an intriguing idea; it was something we actually needed.
A sabbath is good for our minds, our bodies, and our souls. But it’s difficult to commit to in our highly distracted, productivity-obsessed culture. I’ve written on how we do Sundays before, but I’ve learned more in the last few years and I want to share some of the habits that have worked well for us:
- Adults come first. When we first started trying to live a sabbath we wanted to make Sundays magical so we planned the day primarily around activities for the children. But then Sunday suddenly became the most exhausting day of the week. And the magic wasn’t as natural. Now we plan the day more around what we want to do. Magically, the children almost always have a great day, and it continues to be their favorite day of the week. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that their parents are so much more relaxed and present.
- But go easy on the children. We won’t guarantee roller coaster rides or zoo trips but our children do know that on Sundays they can eat a lot more of whatever they want, they don’t have to clean up any of the messes they make, and they get to watch a movie or show that they don’t usually watch on weekdays. Monday morning clean-up is a bit of a drag but it’s worth it for the joy that is Sunday.
- Do one thing as a whole family. It doesn’t matter if it’s going out to lunch or going to the pool or going for a hike or playing cards. Pick one thing that everybody is a part of. This is the kind of stuff you’ll all remember forever. This is the kind of stuff you work for in the first place.
- But don’t feel pressured to spend the whole day together. Now that our family has grown, everybody has such different needs, desires, and capabilities. Sunday doesn’t have to mean constant forced togetherness. If you’re all relaxed and present, intimacy and togetherness will happen naturally.
- It’s not work we should avoid; it’s the working mentality. Work is not always a clear concept. What if organizing my closet is the thing that will clear my mind? What if I like going to the grocery store on Sundays? What if cleaning out the garage is a nice, welcome break from my husband’s weekday responsibilities? The question I ask myself is: is this truly what I’d most enjoy doing right now? Or do I just want to check it off a list?
- Be adventurous. Whatever your state in life, it is often difficult to get out and try new things or visit new places. Sunday is unequivocally the time for those adventures you’ve been meaning to take.
- Be low tech. Other than a movie or a show we pretty much avoid screens on Sundays. We all know how difficult it is to be present and relaxed with our phones around. Detaching from them was difficult at first, but became easier the more we started enjoying ourselves!
- Later to Church (and everything else). We recently made the switch from an early morning to a midmorning Mass. Even though we are all up early anyway, there’s no reason to be rushing around on Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings are golden. And Sunday Mass is supposed to be the spiritual pinnacle of our week. Now, it is certainly easy to fall into a “get it over with” mentality when I spend that spiritual pinnacle with three monkeys climbing on me. And yet, there are only so many Sundays in a year and even in a life. I like to imagine that Heaven is one great, endless Sunday. So we might as well start learning how to live it now.