I often get questions from moms of little ones asking how to make Sabbath more restful and set apart for them. The tasks of changing diapers and feeding littles seem the same on Shabbat as the other days of the week. I went to my friend, Rachel Henderson, and asked her to write up her thoughts for you. As a mom of 4 kids ages 2 to 7, she knows! The rest is what Rachel wrote for you, Sisters…
What we do most often, is most important.
There are a handful of principles that I have gathered and hung on to during the times of Rest that didn’t always feel very restful. How can we acknowledge the endless workloads and not stay in a place of resentfulness?
Get your mind right. What you are doing matters. Profoundly. It can all seem tedious and meaningless- the diapers and the nursing and the dishes and the laundry. Consider this – what we do most often, is most important. This is true because what we do most often and how we do it amounts to who we are. This set of verses reminds us that the little acts of love aren’t little:
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matt. 25: 34-40)
I know the work can seem relentless, especially on Shabbat when we are supposed to be resting. I choose to be grateful that the sanctification process that Yah is taking me through is done through motherhood. Many others have to go through this process without all the intrinsic meaning and blessing that go along with motherhood.
I have visions in my mind of what Erev Shabbat dinners should look like. With tablecloths and special dishes and colorful meals. Someday they might look like that. But not today. When you have young children at home the most important part of Shabbat is that it feels special. And it needs to feel special to everyone, including you! In fact, the mood you as a Mom are in might be the most important part of Shabbat. So, frozen pizza and salad is a great choice if you can serve it with a smile, a cheerful countenance and excitement to enter into the Rest Yah has for you. Make a meal for Friday night dinner that you can reheat for lunch the next day. Also, pick meals that everyone loves. The last thing a Mama wants is to spend all day cooking a special dinner and then spend Friday evening convincing kids to eat it. Paper plates are also a good option for long days and busy moms. Treat yourself with Rest- your Father wants you to take joy in his Shabbat. Our children will remember how we made them feel- not how elaborate the meal was. Think- what can I take off my plate today to make these preparations exciting instead of exhausting?
Less is more.
When our children are young the tidying up can seem endless, that’s for sure. We can train them to pick up after themselves. I truly believe it is worth your precious time to declutter everything in your life that is not actively serving you and your family. Every item in your home is inventory and you are the manager of that inventory. Take the time to articulate what is of value to you and then work a little each day to remove the items that are not. If we exhaust ourselves all week managing an overload of inventory and then that inventory piles up on Sabbath… it can be hard to truly rest. If you have less you can let it go for a day and not find yourself living in a disaster.
Orient your entire week around preparing for Shabbat.
Orient your entire week around preparing for Shabbat. It sounds crazy to say that I need each of the other 6 days in order to actually rest on Shabbat. But, it’s true! View your week as a countdown to Sabbath. In Hebrew the days of the week are actually named this way- 6 days to Sabbath, 5 days to Sabbath, etc. Here’s an example: Sunday I have to plan my week/the meals and clean up after the previous Sabbath. Monday could be groceries/errands day. Tuesday could be projects at home. Wednesday could be other errands like filling the gas tank, going to the bank, etc. Thursday could be a big clean day. Friday is a cooking and final clean day. I have found that the better my rhythms and systems are throughout the week the easier it is to rest on Sabbath. Nothing has to be perfect but if I’ve done a load of laundry each day, wiped down my bathrooms every couple days and tidied/vacuumed each evening before bed I feel able to rest.
Practice working well.
To be able to rest well, we also have to practice working well. If we aren’t working hard during the week then Sabbath will feel like every other day. Living well and being productive the rest of the week creates a contrast on Sabbath when we don’t have these extra chores to do. We will still have things to do because we take care of other people but we will have a rest from our other regular responsibilities. This makes sabbath a delight, a reward for having worked hard and distinct from the other 6 days.
Think about what would be helpful.
Think through what you’re doing on this Shabbat. For most of us, every Sabbath looks a little different. Sometimes we are at a large gathering, sometimes we are at a close friend’s home, sometimes we host, sometimes we stay home just to rest. Think about what would be helpful to have done on Friday to make Saturday go smoothly. Typically I pack my kid’s toy backpack, a bag with an extra change of clothes/diapers for each child, fill water bottles, and have my dish to take with a serving spoon ready to go. Also, tailor your meals according to your plans. Staying home days are better for a more involved, slower breakfast. If you’re headed out the door, plan for something simpler.
Make it special for you.
Make it special for you. Sometimes it can be easy to slip into feeling sorry for ourselves as Moms. We spend our time taking care of everyone else but often we feel no one takes care of us. The truth is, we are responsible for taking care of ourselves like we would anyone else we love. A good first step towards this is to write down what small things fill your cup. Then, share those with your husband if you have one or with your children even. Try to incorporate these little things on Shabbat to make it special for you. Oftentimes the people we love would bless us if they knew how. It’s up to you to figure out what you need and communicate it. It could be a homemade latte, a bath with special salts, painting your nails, going to bed early, comfortable pajamas, sleeping in, plating your food beautifully, lighting a candle, etc. For me, I do intermittent fasting through the week so I thoroughly enjoy eating breakfast with everyone on Shabbat. These special things also help distinguish Sabbath from every other day. Think of these as a reward for working so hard during the week!
About Rachel Henderson
My name is Rachel and I believe we are put here to have simple and abundant lives. I am 33, married, and a stay at home Momma to 4 under 7. I love my God- and I mean I really love my God. He is the source of all blessing in my life- something I try to remember daily. I believe that if we follow God’s ways and pursue His will on our knees, in our hearts, and through our actions that He will lead us to that simple, abundant life that we long for.
Photos of Rachel and her kids: