Saturday, April 30, 2011

Work 5 days and rest for 2? Thoughts about the weekend and the Sabbath

I've been thinking about my expectations about the "weekend" for a while now.  It actually stems out of thinking about what the Sabbath is and how we observe it in our family.  (Ideas that have evolved over time... I've been working on this since M. and B. were little.)  And I've come to the conclusion that we get weekend and Sabbath a little mixed-up.

At least I had.  There is such an aura that surrounds our thinking about the weekend.  It's as if there is this expectation that it is two days of play, involving no work, and what we spend our week looking forward to.  The implication of this is that there is little good or enjoyable about the days of Monday through Friday, but that they are a necessary evil to get through in order to enjoy our weekend.

By buying into this (even if unconsciously), the weekend, instead of being the whirlwind of fun we expect, more often becomes two days of disappointment and short-tempers.  When expectations are too high, it is too easy to fall short of them.  And it is too easy to overbook ourselves as well, adding exhaustion into the mix.  I have found that to enjoy these two days, I had to change what my assumptions were about them.

First off, my thinking was wrong when I believed that Saturday should be a day of rest as well.  Households do not function well if there are two days off.  There is just too much that needs to be done on a daily basis to take two days off from it.  And I have found, the more behind I feel, the less satisfying I find life in general. 

Once I dismissed the idea of resting on Saturday,  it turned my whole way of thinking around.  Instead of being dissatisfied that I was missing out on something if I was laboring, I instead began to view Saturday as a day to do bigger projects that I don't have time for on a regular weekday.  It is also the day when we clean our house so that we start the new week neat and orderly. Everyone pitches in and does their own job and by the end of the day the house is relatively clean.  Of course, since everyone is cleaning, it means that J. and I are also doing supervising and being sure that the jobs have been done well.  Sometimes we do have to send a child back to redo a job.

Which brings me to Sunday.  Over the years we have been working on what observing a Sabbath rest looks like.  As of right now, this involves worship, forgoing usual household tasks (mainly this means laundry and cleaning... though we still fix food, load the dishwasher, and things of that sort), spending time together as a family, and doing things we enjoy doing.  We also try to keep computers turned off... though sometimes something will come up and we will need to turn one on briefly.  I have found this last item to be both the most challenging and the most beneficial.  It makes me realize how much I use the computer during the day and I find leaving it off to be refreshing.  There also have been seasons where we try to invite people over for Sunday dinner.  This has been more or less successful depending on many factors and probably worthy of a post of its own.

I realize that as I think about these things that changing our ideas about work and rest are at the root.  Too often we don't see the pleasure in working (thus our ambivalence about the work week) and don't see the necessity of working at resting (it can take some effort to really allow ourselves to rest from our labors). 

So, I will now go back to my labors in order to be free to rest tomorrow.  I am always curious about how other families observe the Sabbath.  What do you do?

1 comment:

April said...

I agree, there is NO way we could take Saturday off! Saturday is our day to do projects and extra straightening and cleaning around the house, as well as outside garden/animal work. My kids know that Saturday is extra chores day and Sunday is rest day. I hear of other families that watch cartoons all morning or whatever, but we just can't do that. Sunday is our day that we go to church, then take it easy and hang out together. We don't do any work other than the basic meal prep and clean up, make beds, straighten and pick up (the house still must stay clean!). I work on low key projects like menu planning and school planning for the week.

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