Why Homeschool Moms Need a Sabbath Rest (and How to Get One)

sabbath restMoms are on duty 24/7. Depending on the ages of one’s children, it can be both a physically and mentally exhausting vocation. For homeschooling moms, the duty is magnified. After all, the children don’t leave for six hours a day, five days a week. They are at home with us, and while most of us who have chosen or been chosen for this lifestyle would acknowledge all the blessings that accompany it, we also might acknowledge the challenges, such as lack of time for ourselves.

The idea of a Sabbath rest may seem laughable. I do live in the same world you do. No one is volunteering to give me a full day off from my responsibilities on a weekly, or even a monthly, basis. But the commandment to “Keep Holy the Sabbath” doesn’t have an asterisk after at saying that it applies to everyone but homeschool moms. God calls us to rest as well.

When I started my mothering journey, the Sabbath rest wasn’t something I gave much thought. I went to Mass every Sunday and figured that about covered it. After all, the kids still needed to be fed and washed and played with and the food wasn’t going to cook itself. With the very important exception of attending Mass, Sunday was a lot like any other day.

Then a few years ago I read Sabbath by Dan Allender. He invited readers to reclaim the Sabbath as a day dedicated to joy, to truly treat it as a feast day. “The Sabbath is a feast day that remembers our leisure in Eden and anticipates our play in the new heaven and earth with family, friends, and strangers for the sake of the glory of God.” So, I began to make some changes. Here are some ideas to bring more Sabbath rest into your busy homeschooling life.

1)      Take a break from technology

I use the computer for work and for social purposes six days a week. From Saturday night at 6 pm to Sunday at 6 pm, I shut it off. While I admit to occasionally using Facebook on Sundays to send a friend birthday wishes, for the most part, I am unavailable. I don’t check email. I don’t scroll my social media feeds. I don’t have a smartphone, so the temptation to compulsively check is less, but taking that break from the online world gives my brain a chance to rest. The online world goes on without me, and when I return to it, I am refreshed.

2)     Try to get the chores done on other days

Yes, there will be dinner to be cooked and dishes to do and there may be an accident that will require some laundry to be done, but make a concerted effort to get the household tasks done on other days. Set up a schedule if you need to and then do all you can to stick with it so that your Sundays can have more time for relaxation and recreation.

3)     Do something you enjoy

What brings you joy? Is there a hobby that you relish but can never seem to make the time for because there is always so much that needs to get done? Make time for it on Sunday. For me this includes a Saturday evening quilting session while we watch our family movie and doing some leisure reading on Sunday (as opposed to reading the books I have to read for work or for preparing our homeschool lessons). Your list will no doubt look different, but even if you can only find a half-hour or an hour of time to do something that has been missing in your life, you will feel more refreshed and invigorated for the week to come.

You can also eat something you enjoy. Sunday is by definition a feast day. Save a special treat for that day so that you have something to look forward to and indulge in on the Sabbath day.

4)     Take advantage of Sabbath moments

Priests usually have a very busy work day on Sundays. One priest I know takes Tuesday as his day of rest. That reinforced for me that a Sabbath rest doesn’t always have to be on a Sunday, especially because Moms aren’t likely to get a full day off. Instead, we can take advantage of a few minutes of rest throughout the week whenever we can find them. I often have taken advantage of time while waiting for children at their activities to pray, do something I enjoy, or simply to get a much needed mental break.

There are also ways for mom to get a break without having to pay a babysitter. Playdates can be arranged at either your own house or a friend’s house. When children have friends over, they are usually occupied, giving moms a little time to themselves. This can be a blessing for both moms involved – the one hosting and the one whose child(ren) has left for a little while.

Maybe you are an early riser and able to get in some solitude for prayer and a cup of tea or coffee before the kids get up. Or by the same token, maybe your evenings after the young children are in bed can be an opportunity for relaxation.

5)     Attend Mass or Adoration alone

Sunday Mass is of vital importance, but is not always a spiritually enriching experience when you attend with children. If you are able to attend Mass or Adoration alone during the week, you can have the opportunity to nurture your own soul in a special way.

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 thirteenth 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 Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling" and "The Power of Forgiveness". She blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com