While the potential obstacles to achieving a peaceful Sabbath are many, so are the potential blessings in doing what we can to make it a more sacred time. By starting with just a few simple changes, your family can begin to see Sundays not for their restrictions, but for their opportunities.
“Saturday is a Special Day”
The idea to plan for Sunday is certainly not a new one, but, unfortunately, we often forget this important step to having a peaceful Sabbath. Review in your mind what your last Sunday was like. Were you rushed getting to church? Did you have time to review your lesson like you told yourself you would? What did you make for dinner and how much time did you spend in the kitchen? Did you feel at all refreshed at the end of the day, or was it just like any other day?
Take some time to think about what you could do ahead of time (on Saturday) to make your Sundays more conducive to the Spirit. Choosing and laying out Sunday clothes for your children; doing the necessary laundry, grocery shopping, and meal preparation; and putting gas in the car are just a few of the Saturday activities that will help make Sundays a little easier. It does, though, require a little forethought.
For example, decide in advance what you will be having for dinner on Sunday (and choose something that is simple to prepare) then do as much preparation as you can (cutting vegetables, thawing meats, etc.) on Saturday. Your kids will take note of how you prepare on Saturday and will quickly realize from your example that Sundays really are important and worth a little extra consideration.
Fighting the “I’m Bored!” Syndrome
For most adults, one of the best parts of Sunday is getting a little break from all the sensory overload we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. On Sundays we don’t have to answer work emails, flip through hundreds of channels to find the program we want to watch, or hear the honks of afternoon traffic. For kids, though, understanding that there’s a time to have fun and be rambunctious and then there’s a time to slow down the pace and be more reflective can be difficult, especially when they’re used to having so much entertainment at their disposal, most of which is just a click away.
Key to helping kids learn to enjoy this “down” time is to concentrate more on all that they can do on Sundays instead of what they can’t do. There are many activities that will keep your children occupied, while also helping them retain the spirit Sundays are intended to have. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Journal writing is a perfect Sunday activity. For some kids, though, getting started can be the toughest part. You can help them out by providing them with topics or questions that will spark their interests. Maybe you could give them a difficult peer pressure scenario and ask them to describe how they would deal with it. You could also ask them to choose a hero from the scriptures and write in their journals about why they admire that person so much. What would they ask that person if they could talk to him or her? If you have younger children, have them dictate to Mom or Dad, who will then write down their thoughts. These questions and your children’s responses can also be great dinner conversation topics.
2. Create a family history club within your own family and assign each member a different role. The president can call together meetings and organize the other positions, making sure everyone understands his or her duties. The vice president can plan outings and coordinate with the ward family history specialist. The secretary can organize the research tools and keep track of what’s being done. Everyone helps with the research.
3. Go on walks or drives with your children. We get so busy during the week that it can be hard to find that important one-on-one time, but Sundays give us the perfect opportunity. Walk around the neighborhood with a child and ask him or her questions about school, church, and friends. Visit neighbors who could use a friendly smile on your way. Or, take a drive and sing or listen to Primary or Church songs and point out the beautiful scenery around you. These special moments will turn Sundays into a day children look forward to because it’s a day that will help them feel special.
4. Plan the next day’s family home evening. Decide who will be in charge and have that person assign the prayers, treat, and song. Help the person preparing the lesson by searching for applicable scriptures or stories and helping him or her organize a fun activity.
5. Sundays are also the perfect time to get together with extended family. If you’re lucky enough to live near family members, take advantage of this convenience often. Maybe you can make it a once-a-month get-together in which the host location rotates. Have everyone bring a simple dish to share (so that one family isn’t stuck cooking for everyone), and have one family prepare a family home evening lesson to share with everyone.
6. Organize a Sunday book club with your family members. Each week decide on a Church-related book that you can read as a family. Get together on Sunday to discuss what you’ve been reading and to create a discussion. Have one person lead the discussion each week. This person will create a list of questions that will direct the conversation. If your children are younger, ask them to read an article from the Friend and then focus your reading club questions around that article.
7. Take advantage of the resources offered on lds.org. This website offers so much information and learning potential. Choose a topic you’d like to learn more about and then read article on that topic from the New Era or Friend (click on the “Gospel Library” link). Look up pictures of your favorite temples and read some of the interesting facts about them (click on the “Temples” link). Or, enter an online art exhibit from the Church’s Museum of Church History and Art (click on the “Church History” link). This site is filled with wonderful resources perfect for Sunday enjoyment.
As with so many things, children will take their biggest life lessons from your example. If you are rushed and preparing for work the next day, or sweating for hours over dinner and dishes, then your kids aren’t going to understand what you mean when you say, “Sunday is a day of rest.” If, however, you’re doing your best to show what you would like them to do (quiet, spiritual activities), by doing them yourself, then they will follow your example.
Sundays might not immediately be the blissful, quiet break you would ideally like them to be with busy children around who are hungry for entertainment and attention, but by gradually incorporating more Sabbath-oriented activities that best suit your individual family, they will become more and more peaceful.
Simple Sunday Activities
children occupied with spiritual activities on the Sabbath by creating a Sunday activity list or box. Have everyone help in brainstorming a list of activities appropriate for the Sabbath (this could be a great family home evening activity). Whenever someone is looking for something to do, he or she can simply look on the list or pull an activity out of the box. Here are some ideas that could be included on your list or in your box:
•Call Grandma and Grandpa.
•Write a letter to a missionary relative or a missionary in your ward or draw him or her a picture.
•Draw a picture of what you learned about in Primary.
•Write a thank you note to someone who spoke in church or to one of your teachers.
•Read an article from the Ensign, Liahona, New Era, or Friend.
•Watch a Church video.
•Write in your journal.
•Act out a scene from the scriptures for your family.
•Play appropriate music on an instrument.
•Listen to Church music.
•Read scriptures alone or with another family member.
•Play a game with the family that you played in Primary or Sunday School or one that you found in the Friend.
•Plan tomorrow’s FHE.
•Read a Church book.
•Listen to a past general conference talk online.
•Ask if you can go visit relatives.
•Ask Mom or Dad to tell you a story from his or her mission.
•Take a walk around the neighborhood.
•Take a nap.