The Gift of Sabbath Rest

As I write this, I’ve just wrapped up my weekly Sabbath rest. I take a mental break from work, keep the daily chores to a minimum, and make a concerted effort to do something that brings me joy. It goes without saying that Sabbath also includes attending Mass (when that isn’t physically possible, I do the television version).

It has been about a little over a decade since I was challenged after reading Sabbath by Dan Allender to be more intentional about keeping the Sabbath. My older children were young then. Keeping a Sabbath rest seemed like an elusive dream. There was always so much to do. With the exception of going to Mass, Sundays looked a lot like every other day. How could a work at home homeschool mom of young children possibly get a break?

I began to set aside 4 pm Saturday afternoon to 4 pm Sunday afternoon to do things I enjoyed. Yes, I still needed to parent and cook and do dishes, but I began to take a break from work (one of the challenges of working from home is that there is always work that can be done), stayed off the computer (once smartphones and social media became a thing, I also stayed off of those), and relegated other household chores to other days of the week. Any free time I had in that 24 hour span was spent in leisure. For me, that includes reading books or magazines I want to read (instead of books for work), quilting, watching a movie, or drawing.

God commanded that we take a Sabbath rest. There is no asterisk on that commandment that says this doesn’t include homeschool moms. I know that it can be hard. There were times that Sabbath rest may have only been a few minutes here and there in my day (although the break from the computer made a huge difference in the quality of my mental health), but it became something I looked forward to each week.

There was also an unexpected blessing. Dedicating that day to rest helped me be more productive the other six. Work still got done. I still did the laundry and cleaned the house.

God knows we need rest. As a mom, it can sometimes feel selfish to take that time to rest. There are certainly parenting stages when it is much harder than others, but it is so important.

I have also learned to appreciate the value of Sabbath moments, no matter what day of the week it is. A few minutes of rest here and there can be such a blessing. Take advantage of whatever free moments come your way. Even better, make an effort to set aside a few minutes in your day at a time when you know your children will be occupied in some activity. Embrace the rest that God wants us to have.

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Author: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor of "Today's Catholic Homeschooling", is the mother of two biological sons and one adopted daughter. She is in her eleventh year of homeschooling. She has a B.A. in History and Fine Art and a Master's Degree in Applied Theology. She is the author of "The Catholic Baby Name Book" and "Letters to Mary from a Young Mother." She blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com