Grow: Sabbathing- When Do Parents Rest? (Spiritual Practices Series)
|taken from formissionarymoms.com|
For the final post in our spiritual practices with children series (you can check out the other ones here, here, and here), we’ll be talking about the Sabbath. We are told that on the seventh day of creation, God rested. We are also invited into that weekly time of rest- to lay down our toil and labor and trust God to take care of the details. He asks us to take a day off from working in order to rejuvenate. My ideal day of rest involves casual meals with friends, conversation, an afternoon nap, diving into a good book, doing a little scrapbooking, and ending the night with a relaxing movie. However, for many parents, no day is “restful”. There are diapers to change, meals to make, kids to discipline, talks to be had, tantrums to be dealt with, and accidents to be cleaned up. So how can parents engage in Sabbathing? And how do we teach our children to do so as well?
Rest for Parents
While it may not be possible (or healthy) to disengage from the demands of life with little ones altogether, some parents find it very helpful to take turns in giving each other down time on Sundays (or whatever day you choose to Sabbath). Perhaps after lunch, mom gets from 1-3 to do whatever she wants, and dad gets from 3-5 to do whatever he wants. This is one way to make sure that there is some sort of rejuvination.
While Jake and I like to do that sometimes, we have come across a way to rest in a different kind of way. We choose to have no expectations or goals for the day. For us, Sundays are about putting away the to-do list. We wake up in the morning with no expectations or plans for the day besides going to the church gathering. If all we do is sit in the playroom with the kids all day, fantastic. If we all decide to go to the library in the afternoon, that’ll be great. If we decide to play a game or visit a museum or take a walk, that’ll be good too. But we try and make sure that there will be nothing we have to do. No necessary trips to the grocery store (i.e. stressful). No errands to run. No ideas about books that we want to read. No chores to be done. Instead, if life happens in such a way that the kids are all playing nicely by themselves and we get a chance to read a chapter of a book, awesome. If the kids are grumpy and needing a lot of interaction, we are happy to spend time on the couch, cuddling and playing or reading. One Sunday afternoon we decided to go to the library, and leisurely choose some books. When we got back home, it was time for Ada’s nap. The rest of us found ourselves on a couch with a bag full of library books at our feet. We ended up all looking at/reading our respective books until Ada woke up. We wouldn’t have been able to plan that if we tried!
For some of the single parents in our church, Sundays are still very very difficult. Being a single parent is labor-intensive, and rest is something that these parents especially need. While I’ve never been a single parent, I remember on one Sunday, one of the families in our church invited Asante out to lunch with them when Aly (at the time a tiny baby) was in the hospital for a respiratory infection. One of us went to sit with Aly while the other one stayed home and rested. This was a huge act of service to us, and it wasn’t too big of an extra burden for the family. How can we help those around us who are heavy laden with responsibilities find rest?
Rest for Children
In many ways, everyday is a Sabbath day for the kids! They get to read, play, rest, and eat mostly how they want. We want them to know the Sabbath as a special day set aside for rest. Our hope is to create a tradition now of them enjoying God with their family and community on this day so later on perhaps they won’t have as hard of a time with resting. Outside of going to sunday school and children’s church, we also let them have a sweet treat on Sundays. At our house we’re pretty strict about no desserts during the week, but on Sunday they get to choose what kind of sweet thing they want to eat and momma makes it for them! We tell them that on Sundays we are celebrating the resurrection and the hope of the new world (along with rest)- and that that is pretty “sweet.”
Perhaps you have a fun family tradition for observing the Sabbath… how do you spend your day? Have you found a fun way to help kids (of any age) understand it better? For the single parents out there, how can those around you help you to have a more restful day?