Have You Taken A Sabbath Lately?

Some days…some weeks, well heck, some months feel like Groundhog Day around here. Laundry, grocery runs, picking up the toys, making beds, cooking meals… and on it goes.
The biggest part of me loves it, despite the monotony. But there is a small part that finds it really draining. And in recent months I have even been feeling a bit of…dare I say it, resentment.
Those feelings of ill will about washing 5 peoples dishes 10 times  a day or reminding a child (yet again) to not put the toothbrush behind the sink faucet, but rather in its proper place have been creeping in and gaining a foothold in my homemaking attitude.
I occasionally catch myself mumbling under my breath, having a quiet pity party. Its embarrassing to admit that but I think I may not be alone in this. Am I right?

Recently I have been challenged to bring this situation, this attitude, under control.

For all of us that are feeling a little worn out by the day to day demands. Those of us feeling even the slightest bit overwhelmed, under appreciated, spent, uninspired or frustrated.
Mike and Canaan meandering through a Labyrinth at sunset in Ohio

Have you ever taken a Shabbat? A Sabbath? Growing up, a Sabbath day was just the day we went to church. Plain and simple, it was a church day. Over the years, I have grown a bit in my understanding of its historical importance, but I can’t say it has had much of an impact on my weekly schedule.

Until recently.

A few weeks ago I was cleaning the office upstairs. I had the radio on for background noise to drown out Otto’s constant toddler whining (gotta love this stage…is it crying, is it happy squeels?? I may never know.)
Anyhow, the radio program was about working mothers and balancing a healthy schedule. My ears perked up. A smart, well spoken mom of 6 (yes, six) was talking about balancing her job outside the home and life inside the home. The change in her schedule that made all the difference between sanity and insanity of juggling it all was the practice of taking a weekly Shabbat ~ a day of rest.
She spent the next few minutes describing how she is realistically able to do this. I thought she was speaking a foreign language. A whole day of rest?? No cooking? No cleaning? No picking up toys or sweeping up the crumbs? Was this even possible as a mom with small kids? I don’t feel like I usually have an hour of rest, let alone 24.
I listened and took what she said to heart but it didn’t go beyond that. Not believing in coincidences, I had to chuckle when I read an article on…you guessed it…taking a day of rest. I think Someone might trying to tell me something.
I gave myself the next week to prepare and get organized to take my first Shabbat. The night before, I finished up all of the laundry, got out the boys school clothes, put a meal in the crockpot (I have one with an insert so I put the whole insert in the fridge overnight and then began to cook dinner in it the next morning.) I made sure the dishwasher was empty so we could just put dishes directly in there. It definitely took some extra time the night before but I was eager to give this little experiment a try.
The next day I did nothing. Yep…nothing. Well nothing in terms of any “work”. No cleaning, no cooking, no writing, no blogging, no emailing, no working out. I read magazines on the couch while sipping tea, I played outside with the boys, we took a family walk to the park and I took an extra long bath that night.
I won’t say it was easy doing nothing. It wasn’t. By 3 or 4pm that day I was a fidgety mess. I wanted to sweep up the crumbs under the dining room table SO BADLY! I had to stop myself on numerous occasions from carrying toys and clothes upstairs. Mentally it was really hard to separate myself from the tasks of the home.
I am not sure the boys noticed much of a difference that day because in all honesty I have that multi tasking thing down to an art. I can be pretty darn present with them, slip away for a few seconds to do a chore and be right back.
But the experiment wasn’t for my kids and it wasn’t for Mike.

I needed this.

The following 6 days seemed to breeze by. I felt like I cleaned a lot less (yet still had a clean house.) Dinner seemed to come together each night almost effortlessly and overall I just really had an amazing week. Hmmm…maybe there was something to the practice?
The following weekend we were out of town and I was “on assignment” for an article. Part of the assignment was due on Monday which meant I really needed to work on it the following day. Since I had been “working” to cover the assignment on Saturday I had intended on taking a day of rest on that Sunday. I was in a quandary. I finally decided that I would indeed take a Shabbat, get up on Monday morning and try to get the assignment in on time. I prayed, “God, I want to give myself a day of rest each week, which honors You, by taking a Sabbath, please bring everything together for me to get this article done in record time and to the best of my ability.”
And you know what? I finished that article in record time and without needing to make any revisions after the first draft was sent off to the editor. Crazy. Amazing.

I have learned so much about myself through this process. I am astonished that a day of rest makes the other 6 days so productive and easy. I feel sharper mentally, more energetic, much happier throughout the day and way less stressed...and nothing beats the beauty of a stress-less mama.



  1. You have no idea how much I needed to read this post. Although I don't stay at home, I saw myself over and over as you were describing yourself and your day-to-day life. I chuckled at the "fidgety mess" part because that pretty much sums up what I would be like. So you didn't feel like you got behind or feelings of guilt?

  2. Danielle, Yes and Kind-of-Yes. Yes, I totally get panicked the night before that I am going to get behind. And yes, the day after, my house is in a bit of disarray. But even though I have those feelings of "if I don't stay on top of it, its all going to go to pot", in reality, it doesn't. Its a good realization to have ;)

    And as for guilt. There is a bit of guilt taking the day off but not as much as I thought there would be. I think that guilt just comes from our culture teaching us how we are supposed to perform as a mom/wife/housekeeper (24-7) but the reality is that our bodies aren't meant to go at that pace non-stop for years on end and its downright glorious to take some time for yourself ;)

    Try it and let me know what you think! I would love to hear how this little "experiment" works for others.

  3. Totally gonna try this. In my mind I've been wanting to do this and in some respect have done them, but not necessarily intentionally. So thanks for being open and honest, because if we are honest with ourselves we can also see the same tendencies in ourselves and equally the need to rest!!!! Thank you, thank you!!!

  4. With no faith the idea of taking a Sabbath isn't something I've ever considered. But you make some very valid points. We try to get out of town so I can avoid the fidgety mess I become when faced with forced rest.

    And, on that note, I think I'm going to sew and think about dinner later. Taking my hour...

  5. Love the comments gals! Yes...getting out of town is a great way to avoid the "fidgity mess" Cheryl.
    And Delia~ your welcome. Glad to know I'm not alone!

  6. so true! i've been working on figuring this out this year. some weeks i'm much better than others, but we're getting there. timothy keller has an excellent post here about sabbath - http://www.qideas.org/blog/wisdom-and-sabbath-rest.aspx#commentStart

    thanks for encouraging sabbath-keeping.

  7. We observe Sabbath from Sundown on Friday to Sundown on Saturday. We meet at Sundown on Friday and say a quick prayer over our Sabbath/family time. We started this last year and it has made such a gift to this Texas family:)) We ALL look forward to Sabbath, it's a sort of count down around here..haha!

  8. Thanks. I just listened to the radio programme. It gave some really good advice. Organization is not excactly my forte as I am one who tends to run around doing 6things badly, constantly, so having a sabbath might actually make me plan ahead and become more centred. (I have no problem relaxing while there are crumbs on the floor until I find out we are having company!) I am hoping that actually planning to NOT do anything, may make me more efficient with the rest of my time. I am going to try this out this weekend.
    On a side note, funny how God has to hit us over the head with things to make us take notice, huh? What you described about listening to the radio, and then hearing it again at church, I find happens with me all the time too! I've been hearing the words...."Thy will be done" all week long. Even heard it a few times in that radio programme. So, I am trying to listen and take note!
    Thanks again Megan.

  9. Brie.. I will definitely check that link out! Thank you!

    And Barefoot Mama, I am so encouraged to hear your family has already implimented this and it has impacted your family in a good way~ so exciting! I know it will become a permanent practice in our home from here on out.

  10. I love that note, Karen! It is amazing how productive and "centered" our time does become. I am really amazed. Although I shouldn't be because that idea wasn't given by God without thought and good intentions behind it ;)

  11. Isn't it funny that the hardest thing in the world to do is just STOP. I loved this post, a timely reminder that we need to learn to slow down. Life moves quickly enough! X ashley

  12. YES! The past couple of weeks have been absolutely nuts around here, but we do try to take a day to be together as a family and rest. Like you said, it makes the rest of the week much ore productive. I wrote about it here awhile back: http://sandefurfamily.blogspot.com/2009/08/sunday-sermon.html

  13. Ashley...so true! It is hard to just...stop. Its counter to everything our culture pushes (productivity, being "busy", etc..)

    Thanks for sharing that link, Megan! I will be checking it out today~

  14. oh my goodness! i loved reading this post. i had a very similar sabbath experience...it's almost if i could have written this post myself, although not so beautifully!

    last november i had the similar conviction about my sabbath, or lack thereof. i had double confirmation (at least) that it was an issue that needed to be addressed. i had a lady on the plane next to me tell me how important a sabbath is. (how often does THAT happen? really!) and then i had a similar situation with a deadline. i needed to make a quilt in 5 days for a deadline for a book. i would have had 6 days if i had worked on Sunday, but i chose not to, and felt that i was completely blessed by my obedience.

    over the months i have gotten slopply, though. and i do some cooking and some dishes...i am encouraged to try to step it up again. it's a worthy pursuit!

    thanks for your post. i needed to read that today!

    oh! and i totally get the twitchy about 3-4 o clock thing. it is so hard to stop and rest!!

  15. Amanda Jean~ I love your note. Isn't that so interesting about your airplane encounter? Crazy how things like that happen to help keep us on the right track~

  16. What a beautiful blog you have! Years ago I found myself in a similar predicament about a day of rest, and through some reading became convicted (in a good way) that I wanted to start keeping the 7th day as a day of rest...I wasn't sure it would last past week one. Well...now it is the highlight of my family's week, even though it has meant saying No to some things. It has meant saying YES to a time that is set apart from the rest of the week for gratitude, reconnecting to family, refocusing on priorities, and No Guilt for daily things that can...CAN...simply be put on hold for 24 hours. Now it's our favorite of all days...each week :) In the meantime, I embraced Judaism and feel like the blessings began with the single step of stopping on the seventh day to appreciate the wonder of the world around me...and to rest with those I love. Thanks for posting about your wonderful experience :)