I am not an organized person by nature. You know those people who label pencils? That is most certainly not me, and never will be me, no matter how hard I try. Although I’m not at the opposite end of the spectrum either, where I thrive in utter chaos. But if I’m honest with myself, I do tend to lean more towards disorganization. I’ve been striving to find some sort of middle ground, where I can sort of have a handle on my life and actually be able to maintain it. One of the steps I’ve taken in an attempt to achieve this is to set aside Sundays as family days.
The Bible is very clear about certain rules, sabbath days being one of them. A sabbath at it’s very base is really just a day off. God is saying that one day a week, we are to not work. It seems simple enough, yet the Israelites always struggled with keeping this commandment consistently. They would try to sneak around God and send their servants past the town gates to sell goods, rationalizing that since business was being done outside of the town and by someone else, that it didn’t count. Why does God care so much about us taking a day off that He felt it necessary to put it in the Bible? Simple: He wants us to trust Him. Trust that our sustenance truly does come from Him. Trust that our business boom was only partly due to our hard work, but mostly due to God’s blessing. Trust that our whole world won’t fall apart if we stop working for a day.
But how does a stay at home mom take a day off?
I can’t tell my 2 year old to pour her own juice because today is Mommy’s sabbath. Nor could I ignore the puddle of juice that would result from such an action and just let it sit on the hard wood floor until the next day. It’s taken me quite some time to figure out how I can best honor this commandment in my position of raising tiny humans. I know that God is not asking me to neglect my children one day a week; He’s asking for me to lay down my sense of control over my life. When I am able to keep this house running smoothly, then I feel like I’m in control.
So every Sunday, I do my best to abandon household chores, errands, and social media, and instead give all of my focus to my family. On Sunday I will not spend hours doing dishes, or wash 5 loads of laundry, or go grocery shopping. I try to plan a meal on Saturday that will provide leftovers on Sunday, so that I won’t have to cook dinner. After I post my verse of the day, I don’t open any social media or do any blogging. This is easier to forget about since I turned my notifications off a few months ago. Now that I don’t know every time someone comments or likes something, it’s not only much easier to not check it so often but it’s also less stressful.
Despite all of my best efforts though, I still have many Sundays where I fail epicly. Let’s face it, in order to pull off a Sunday of no housework, one needs to be able to complete all of said housework the day before. Which requires planning, which does not come natural to me. If I wasn’t able to get the dishes done, that doesn’t mean that we can just go without dishes for a whole day. Nor can I simply serve nothing for dinner if I don’t have any leftovers from Saturday.
Yesterday was a failure of a sabbath. The sink was so full of dishes that they were spilling over to the counters, I ended up having to do laundry because no one had clean underwear, we ran through Walmart after church because we were out of Gogurt and my kids live off that stuff, and I didn’t have enough leftovers for everyone, so a fresh dinner had to be made. I always feel guilty whenever I completely fail on sabbath days because I sincerely do try very hard in the days leading up to get everything done so that days like yesterday don’t happen. But there are only so many hours in the day, and this mama’s plate is overflowing.
Knowing that sitting in guilt will only result in a bad mood, I decided to release that guilt, because I wanted no part in it. Even though I had to do 4 loads of laundry, I stopped myself from doing the remaining 3 loads, because those could wait until the next day. I only washed the dishes that were necessary for the day instead of isolating myself in the kitchen for an hour cleaning all of it. For dinner, I opted for an easy spaghetti dish that would only use one pan and allow me to sit with my kids while it cooked after only 10 minutes of prep work.
The baby ended up falling asleep after dinner and actually transferred to her crib. There were only 2 more hours until bedtime, and I wanted to soak up as much time with my older two girls before that time. So I grabbed the baby monitor and took them outside. But first, I had to empty the kitchen trash because it was full. In the 2 minutes that it took me to do that, they got in three fights. THREE!!!! Now I was frustrated because it had been another long day of sibling battles. I mean seriously, I can’t even take out the trash in peace?! GAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!
Once the trash was done, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that it was almost bedtime. Even though I went out there with the intention of playing with my kids, the moment my eyes caught sight of all the weeds in my flowers I was instantly tempted to start gardening instead. The baby was asleep after all, so it was an opportune time to get something done. No! It was Sunday; no work. Family day. The weeds can wait.
The girls were playing with the hose, taking turns getting each other wet and chasing after the dogs.
They were in the driveway though, because they didn’t want to have to dodge dog poop in the grass (yet another chore that didn’t get done Saturday). I knew there wasn’t very much though because the hubby just did it a few days before. Thinking it would only take a few minutes, I went around to the back to grab the pooper scooper so that my kids could run around in the grass. I quickly realized however that it was going to take a bit longer than the 5 minutes I had allotted in my head, for the trash can that holds all of the deposits had been filled with water from the rain storm we had the day before, creating a poop soup. Obviously I had to clean that out before picking up any new poop, and it was quite the nasty job. I don’t know if my olfactory senses will ever recover from the stench. While I was in the midst of the great poop soup disaster, my 4 year old came up to me and said, “You know, you’re not really playing with us. You’re just picking up dog poop.”
Way to stab me in the heart kid.
In that moment, I really just wanted to give up on the day. But instead of falling in the trap of self pity, I continued on with my current chore of dog poop as quickly as I could and then turned my attention to my kids.
They were both dripping wet but still content to play with the hose. The only way I would really be able to play with them was to jump in and get wet myself. None of us were in bathing suits because we weren’t planning on getting wet; that’s just what they ended up playing with. The grown up in me was instantly opposed to getting wet in normal clothes, because that’s just not what you do. But then I thought, ‘says who?’ All day my goal had been to spend time with my kids, and if I had to get wet in order to do that, then so be it. I took off my shoes and set my electronics aside and plunged into the cold water like I was a kid again. My girls’ faces lit up and together we ran around screaming getting soaking wet for no reason other than it was fun.
That night as my girls were going to sleep, they had smiles on their faces and had decided that the day had been a fun one, simply because I put my grown up notions aside and played with them.
Even though they are still so young, I can see them growing up so very fast. I hope I can remember how precious this time is so that it won’t feel like such a burden to put aside my to-do list one day a week and act like a kid again. Because as much as my kids need clean clothes and dishes, they also need fun times with mom.
Sabbaths are important because they force us to focus on the things that truly matter in this life: God and family.
Everything else will pass away and be forgotten. But the people we spend our life with, the relationships we create, those last into eternity.