Let’s face it—sometimes Sundays aren’t as enjoyable or fulfilling as we’d like them to be. Between the stress of getting the family—and yourself—ready for church, preparing lessons, preparing meals, and keeping the kids occupied all day, our day of rest can be anything but restful. If you’ve been stuck in a rut, try some of these ideas from LDS Living staff and readers to help improve your Sunday experience.
1. Simplify Sunday meals.
This was by far the most popular concept with LDS Living staff and readers alike. Here is a list of great suggestions to make feeding the family a little easier:
Get rid of the notion that we need to have a huge traditional meal after church.
“It doesn’t really fit in with our day of rest,” writes Lisa Lemich Sherman on LDS Living’s Facebook page. “Use up those leftovers!” Another LDS Living Facebook friend, Sarah Gailey Emke, agrees. “I’ve done away with the big Sunday dinner. We have whatever I can think of that is easiest. It also makes for less dishes—a definite plus!”
Make a meal one day during the week that can be doubled and put in the freezer for Sunday.
Several LDS Living readers also suggested having crock-pot dinners on Saturdays to further simplify meals on the weekends.
Serve grab-and-go foods.
“Since my children ate nutritious breakfasts the rest of the week, I decided that on Sunday mornings they could indulge in Pop-Tarts and a glass of milk,” writes Susan Elzey of Danville, Virginia. “It was the perfect solution: Pop-Tarts could be served on a napkin, everyone liked them, and they were a treat that urged the kids out of bed.” A former Young Women president in Idaho suggests items like Oscar Meyer Lunchables for quick meals between meetings. “When I was serving in our ward’s Young Women presidency, there was very little time to get the family fed after church before our presidency meetings would start. Lunchables were the perfect solution, and the kids loved them.”
2. Sweeten the deal.
Reward children who are ready for church on time with a special treat or prize. Let the person who is ready for church first choose the FHE treat that week. “Treats usually work wonders for those who can’t find their shoes,” writes Kristen Nelson, a mother of six in Myerstown, Pennsylvania.
3. Update the family blog.
“We created a family blog and we update it on Sunday, [posting] pictures of what we did throughout the week,” writes Kristen Nelson. “This helps us stay connected to grandparents who are across the country.”
“My mom challenged everyone in our family to memorize ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World.’ The first person to get it done won 20 dollars,” says Lisa Wardner. “If the whole family got it done by a certain date, we all got a reward. It was a great thing for Sunday afternoons, and it really helped my testimony to grow as I studied and developed a greater understanding of those words. You could do the same thing with ‘The Living Christ.’”
5. Have “table time.”
Stephanie Nixon of American Fork, Utah, says, “Every Sunday at our home, we like to do something called ‘table time.’ Elder LeGrand R. Curtis once said, ‘One of the more important furnishings found in most homes is the kitchen table. Now it may be small, it may be large, or in the form of a little counter with barely room to put the food and utensils. Its major function seems to be a place for the different members of the family to receive nourishment.’” Nixon suggests filling the kitchen table with activities like jigsaw puzzles, board games, Legos, and crafts. “Talk about current events, conference talks, or that day’s lessons,” she says. “My idea for Table Time came when I realized I had an opportunity to nourish my children spiritually as well as physically at the kitchen table.”
6. Plan your week as a family.
“I spend 15 minutes with each child to schedule their activities for the week,” says
Tiffani Thomson. “I put it all on the family calendar. That way, things are less likely to fall through the cracks, and our week is much less chaotic.”
7. Read and report.
“We have each member of our family read a [Church] magazine article on his or her own time during the day, and then we have each person report on the article during our family together time in the evening,” writes Janet Littleford of Cedar City, Utah. “This helps us to make time for reading the magazines and helps us strengthen our testimonies when we relate the articles to the rest of the family.”
8. Pack a church bag—for yourself.
“When my kids were younger, I’d pack their church bag the night before. Now that they’re older, I pack my own church bag the night before!” says Dena Kennedy. “I always print and take a few extra conference talks or BYU devotionals. I don’t get to read them every Sunday, but they come in really handy between meetings or before sacrament meeting starts.”
9. Work on awards.
“Sunday is the perfect day to work on Personal Progress, Faith in God, Duty to God, and Scouts,” says Tiffani Thomson, “even if it’s just for 15 minutes.” Some LDS Living readers wrote in to suggest that children should be required to work on awards before they have free time on Sundays.
10. Learn about other faiths.
“Attend religious concerts (for example, an organ recital at a Roman Catholic cathedral) or other services,” suggests Katherine Morris. “Spending some time getting to know and appreciate people of other faiths helps us realize what we have in common. It’s a good way to build trust with friends and neighbors of other faiths and it opens the door to sharing your own faith.”
11. When grocery shopping over the weekend, get something extra to take to a neighbor.
“Like that pack of 10 chocolate éclairs from Costco that you know you shouldn’t get because you know you'll eat them all yourself—or anything that seems too big for you or your family—get it anyway,” says Dena Kennedy. “If you open yourself up to it, someone will come to your mind on Sunday and you’ll have something to take. I’ve found there’s no better way to start your week than by a small act of service. It makes you feel good and you'll soon begin to look forward to the next Sunday.”
12. Set up "Sunday stations" for the kids.
"Sometimes children can feel like there are so many 'do nots' associated with the Sabbath. Sunday Stations can help children focus on all the wonderful things they can do on the Sabbath day and help them replace boredom with spiritual experiences and fun family memories," writes Amy Ambridge. Four stations can be set up, though the number of stations can be adjusted to meet the size and needs of your family. Here are some of her ideas:
• Pile up some pillows and make a “listening station.” Children can listen to the Joseph Smith dramatization, Primary music and hymns with the songbooks to follow along, dramatized scripture stories, Scripture Scouts, John Bytheway, Hank Smith, or other age-appropriate, gospel-oriented material. This could include homemade recordings of immediate family members or ancestors bearing their testimonies or sharing their life stories. You can even record yourself reading a story or sharing something important.
• A “reading station” can include copies of the Friend, New Era, Ensign, LDS Living, and scriptures. It can also include illustrated stories from the scriptures for younger children.
• A “writing station” can have slips of paper on which each child writes something they are grateful for, or they can write one thing that they like or admire about each family member. Young children can draw a picture of what they learned in Primary that day or just something they did. This station could vary each Sunday to include things like journal writing. Letters can be written and pictures drawn to send to grandparents and missionaries.
• A “surprise station” can include doing a craft from the Friend, cooking a family treat, playing a family game, or going on a walk together.