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.