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How to Keep the Sabbath Holy -for Moms

For years I ignored the 10th Commandment. “Keep the Sabbath Holy”. That was a commandment for other people who had the luxury of just taking a day off. Or maybe it was for people who weren’t as busy as I was with little kids and a list of volunteer duties. Sunday was my day to catch up.

I am slowly discovering that keeping the Sabbath holy concerns an interior shift in thinking, as much as external changes in behavior. If the external changes are done as required without that internal shift you are simply re-arranging your schedule, rather than keeping the Sabbath holy.  

When you are a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom the lines between work and everything else can be blurred. Just because it doesn’t lead to a paycheck, doesn’t mean it isn’t work. If that were the case every day would be a Sabbath for me. And when you are a work-away-from-home mom, you come home to a ‘second shift’ of home duties. Everything is work, and it is very hard to simply put things aside for a day to play or relax while in the midst of the mess or stress. 

Reorder your thinking to Sunday as the start of the week. Many of our calendars start on Monday, leading us to spend time Sunday planning for the week. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start on your week on Saturday, taking time then to look at the week ahead. Start planning your week ahead on Saturday and then simply glance at the plans Sunday. 

Spend more time in prayer. When we keep the Sabbath holy, it has to start with prayer. Can we wake up a little earlier to spend time alone with the Lord in prayer? Can we take a prayer walk as part of our routine at some point in the day? Can we give the Lord one nap time and rest with Him? Can you build your day around the mass rather than trying to fit it into the schedule?

Determine what is essential to do and not to do. I do not have to do a heavy cleaning on Sundays -but if the house is a mess, people need to pick up their things. We all have to eat which means I have to cook. Not cooking on Sunday is unrealistic. But maybe you create some family tradition around a special meal on Sunday and in that way set apart the day. If laundry has to be done, try to get it taken care of the night before or wait a day. This takes intentionality. Work with your spouse to come up with a plan. It is impossible to keep the Sabbath holy if we do the same thing on Sundays as every other day.

Delegate the Chores. Many of us have too much to do. If you are going to take a day off, you have to do less. Children are able to do so much more than we give them credit for. You simply have to find the right match for the child and specific skills or temperament. Maybe your oldest isn’t great at running the vacuum, but he could run to the store for the groceries, wash the dog, or help unload the dishwasher. Children learn by doing. Help them to grow in competency and you help them to grow in self-esteem while you lighten your own load. 

Stay focused on your objective. My pastor once said that we move from busy to distracted. Fight against that tendency. Identify your own distractions. I write about this in the last part of my new book (here). Do you try to internally escape or seek to numb yourself when you aren’t busy? Maybe you make a choice to stay off social media on Sundays. Maybe you keep your phone on silent that day. Invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate for you the things that you can do differently to be less distracted, and then stay focused on making those little changes. 

Whether we have little kids in diapers or big kids with all those activities, family life is busy. Setting aside the Sabbath is listed right up there with not committing murder. It is important. Too often we ignore this commandment because we see it as unrealistic or unimportant. If it is unrealistic for our life, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your workload. If it is unimportant, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your heart.

Deepen your prayer life and let the Lord show you why He desires that you rest.  He knows our hearts, our minds, and our worries and He calls us to a keeper rest in Him. Not just one day a week, but especially one day a week.

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