There are 3 main things we aim for when celebrating the Sabbath. We aim to make it
These things are all Biblically based, yet in this modern world it is so challenging to make these things a reality. Once a week, we are commanded (yes, it’s one of the 10 commandments!) to rest from our work and keep the Sabbath HOLY.
With young children, it can be particularly challenging. There really are no “days off” from parenting! So, we have established some rhythms and habits that even include the littlest ones, and we all can participate in making this day SET APART for the Lord.
This truly is a sacred day.
Exodus 20:8-11 says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, not your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, not the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
We experience this sacredness as we connect with God and with people in a special way on the Sabbath. Taking extra time to nurture our faith and our fellowship with believers makes this day set apart to the Lord.
1. Our number one way of achieving this is by attending church. We don’t just want to be passive attenders, though. We try to pray that morning beforehand that God would particularly open our hearts to the message being preached. We want to be actively involved in what God is doing! If for some reason we are sick or we have sick kiddos, we aim to stream the church service or listen to a sermon online if we can!
2. We also love to connect with family on this day. We FaceTime frequently on Sunday afternoons with relatives that live far away. We almost always have lunch with my mom, who lives nearby. We try to surround ourselves with relationships and spend special time together on this day.
3. Another idea to use this sacred time would be to invite a missionary family over to share about their lives. Perhaps use Sundays as a day to open your home. One family I read about invited missionaries over after church on Sundays, and while the Father performed all the chores normally done by the children, the children all listened to the missionary share their experiences. Several of these children later grew up to be missionaries and preachers as well. What an impressive tradition that had lasting fruit!
4. You could also use this sacred time to connect with a sponsored child or someone you are investing in or mentoring.
5. Have a special devotional time. We have nightly family devotionals, but on Sundays we try to spend extra time in the Word. We want the truths to sink into our kids’ hearts, so we might act out a bible story or spend extra time worshipping.
6. Use meal times purposefully – maybe have some intentional questions during lunch or dinner that everyone answers (What was the most significant part of your week? What are you most looking forward to in the week ahead? How is God growing in you right now?) Use this as a touchpoint to connect with each other!
7. Do something kind together, whether it is a “random act of kindness” or doing something unexpected for someone you know.
8. Take communion together.
9. Have a “foot washing ceremony.” You probably wouldn’t do this every single week, but take time to read about Jesus washing the disciples feet and then practice serving one another by washing each others feet. Our kids really enjoy this!
10. Have a special time of encouragement. We used to have time each week where we specifically encouraged each person in the family. This is such a great way to cultivate relationships with each other.
11. Review memory verses or play a Bible memory game. I like to read through all my memory verses on Sundays. We have also played some fun Bible games on Sundays too, to remind the kids of things they are learning about the Word!
One of our aims is to make this day the pinnacle of our week. It truly is the best day! We get to celebrate God, rest, fellowship with other believers, and take a break from our usual work. We try hard to make this day super special and distinct from every other day of the week. Here are some fun ways to make the SABBATH special:
12. In our family, we have special placemats that the kids made that we ONLY use on Sunday. They are glittery and totally gaudy, but the girls love them. They serve to make the day a little extra “sparkly” and special!
13. Other ideas in this vein would be to use a favorite mug only on Sundays, or particular nice plates or china. Set your table in a special way or take extra time with the arrangement. You could play special music or hymns on this day.
14. Eat dessert first on Sundays!
15. Something fun we did recently was pick flowers during some time outside on Sundays. Maybe incorporate this arrangement into your dining table centerpiece and reflect on the beauty God created.
16. We try to take intentional time on Sundays to be in NATURE. We experience the wonder of God and Majesty of God in new ways as we are surrounded by His creation. This is a way to make the day special and take extra time to be in the presence of God and recharge.
17. Have a set apart time for a “teatime” or other special snack. We have been known to make fresh salsa on Sundays and have chips and salsa together!
18. Read aloud or listen to an audio book together.
19. Our girls are really into crafts. Having a special craft time on this day is so fun for them! The book “The Artful Parent” is a great resource for ideas! Make some homemade play dough and create together.
20. Have a special baking time! And enjoy the fruits of your labors. Make the emphasis on spending time together and make some memories in the kitchen!
21. Have a bonfire! Roast hot dogs, make s’mores, and talk around the fire. Or eat by candlelight! Talk about the Jesus being the light of the world!
We really want to experience the REST that God has for us. It actually takes EFFORT to rest! Hebrews 4:11 says we should “make every effort to enter that rest…”
22. One particular tip that has worked well for us is to come home after church and put lounge clothes or pjs on right away! It certainly sets the mood for rest. It ALSO has the added restful benefit of eliminating another step in the bedtime routine that evening! If pjs are already on, that’s one less thing we have to do later with the kids when bedtime rolls around 🙂
23. We try to stretch nap time until after lunch, so that all the kids have rest time/nap time at the same time. This hour or so that our house is completely quiet is such a nice way to establish a restful day on the Sabbath!
24. Pre-prep your food! If you are serious about resting on the Sabbath, you probably have to do some extra work to prepare for it. The Israelites had to gather extra food the day before the Sabbath, and for us that looks like extra prep on Saturdays. I try my best to get meals prepped the day before so that Sunday is just reheating or doing simple kitchen tasks. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but it makes the day so much easier when the bulk of the cooking is done.
25. In the same way, we like to do a big clean sweep on Saturday nights, in preparation for the Sabbath. It is so freeing to wake up to a tidied house and not have to think about chores or messes.
26. I do not have any normal household tasks scheduled for Sundays. I “take the day off” of laundry and try to do minimal picking up throughout the day. As much as I relish a day off, it is actually really difficult to live this out!
27. We don’t make our kids do their normal chores on this day. I really want them to experience the restfulness of this day. We try to do more than normal beforehand and let the non-urgent things slide!
28. We are intentional about NOT planning outside activities on this day. We try to not commit to outside events or meetings as much as possible and really protect this time.
29. Depending on your use of screen time, either eliminating screens or using screen time in a special way might be restful. I unplug from media on Sundays and it is particularly freeing (#screenfreesabbath). We don’t have a TV in our house, but occasionally we will watch a special show on the computer on Sundays.
30. A special soak in the tub is a very restful activity – for kids or adults! Our kids really like foot massages too, so we sometimes incorporate that into our Sabbath. (Pedicures and spa time with Mommy is another favorite that our girls enjoy!)
All of these are merely ideas; feel free to adapt what works for your family and season and let the rest go! We definitely don’t do all of these every Sunday, and we go through seasons of what works best and is beneficial. Additionally, it is important to be diligently working on the other days of the week. Six days of work, and one day of rest is the rhythm that God has outlined for us. If we work hard throughout the week, finishing projects and even wrapping up tasks on Saturdays, then Sunday truly can be the respite it is designed to be!
I believe that practicing a weekly Sabbath and making it sacred, special, and restful is a key aspect of a healthy family.
God designed life to work best when we follow His commands and mandates! We are never perfect and will never follow the Sabbath perfectly, but I think establishing this as a PRIORITY and following God’s design will bring blessing and deepen our relationship with God and with each other.
How do you practice the Sabbath with your family? What have you found that works well? What are some ideas you have tried over the years?