Keep the Sabbath day holy. Right. You have a slew of children to wrestle into church clothes, breakfast to prepare, and bags to pack.
You finally arrive at church in a less than holy mood and have to continue to try to keep them in line, all the while worrying about the rest of the day. What's for dinner? How can I keep them in a semi-reverent spirit? Is it bedtime, yet?
At the end of the day, you kneel in prayer, thanking God that you let them live another day and vowing to try to do better. The next Saturday night, you dread going to bed, knowing what the morning will bring.
There are a few things you can do to try to honor that beautiful Sabbath day and to teach your family to keep it holy.
It's all in the preparation
Begin to talk up church on Saturday morning. Tell the children how excited you are that you get to go. Then, get them to lay out everything they will need for the next day: church clothes and shoes, clean underwear and socks, donations, books and quiet bags. Start baths early so you have time to have a peaceful bedtime and tell them a Bible story. Go to bed knowing they have everything they need laying out. Whew!
Go ahead and set the table for breakfast and have everything laid out to prepare it. Get up a little early and have it on the table when you wake them. It's a lot of work but worth it in terms of peace. Also, on Saturday, find the time to throw together a casserole or stew for dinner. Put something in the crock pot. Having the meals planned the day before will really help put you at ease.
You have the power to create a peaceful atmosphere in your home. Here are some great ideas. Speak in a whisper. Play soft classical music in the background all day. Have pictures of the Savior on display. Keep lighting low. Encourage nap time or quiet time — if they don't want to sleep, they can lie in bed and read. Tip-toe. Hug ... a lot! Spread the love.
Have quiet activities, with positive messages, in a special box that only comes out on the Sabbath. Puzzles, word searches, journals, cross-stitch, color pages and Bible story books. Consider having each child create their own with quiet things they love or make one big one for the whole family.
Keeping the church clothes on
We all know that clothes set the tone. If kids are in play clothes, they play hard. If they are in Sunday clothes, they will generally keep that Sunday spirit and behavior about them. At least, we hope so.
Consider — hopefully this can happen without a complete mutiny — an electronics-free day. If that is too much, make the activities they do count. Work onfamily history. Write emails to distant family members. Watch scripture videos. Avoid loud sports games and aggressive video games. Here areways to return Sunday to a day of rest.
Begin and end in the Lord's name
At the beginning and the end of the day, kneel with your family and pray. Invite the spirit into your home and dedicate the day to worthy activities. This will keep the idea in your children's minds as they go throughout the day.
Make plans for Monday
Set aside Monday as a fun, family evening when they can be loud and silly. Having a goal in mind will help them to hold out for the day. Then make it a great night to cut loose and have fun as a family.
We have two commandments, here. Raising righteous families and keep the Sabbath day holy. We also have the power to make them both work. A little (OK, a lot of) preparation and consistency will help it become second nature. We only have these guys a short time, but the habits we teach them will carry into future generations.