Planning a Rest Day

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Planning a rest day may take extra effort, but it’s so worth it! You rest your mind, body, and soul, so that you can work better through the week.

Planning a Rest Day | Life as Mom - Planning a rest day may take extra effort, but it's so worth it! You rest your mind, body, and soul, so that you can work better through the week.

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Sometime over the summer I realized that I hadn’t been making rest a priority. I was reading through Exodus 20 and hit the Ten Commandments. Reading through them, something I’ve done many times before, I was struck by verses 8 through 11, the passage about resting one day out of the week.

Those verses were convicting in a way they hadn’t been in my previous readings. That’s one of the things I love about the Bible; there’s always something more to learn about you or God.

I realized that I hadn’t been making time to truly rest. After writing four cookbooks in five years, homeschooling six kids, and trying to keep the house from burying itself in our messes, I couldn’t say that I’d really rested much. So, I started planning a rest day.

At first it was hard. It took a fair amount of planning and organization to make sure the other six days weren’t total disasters. I also found that I needed to be intentional about what I would do during my rest day. If not, I’d find myself distracted by messes or projects that needed my attention.

Planning a Rest Day

While I know that there are many different religious interpretations and practices for a rest day, I am going with the simple idea of taking a break from the work I usually do on the other days, incorporating recreation into my rest day, and otherwise trying to create a vacation one day a week. I can see proof of this in Scripture, so I’m going with it.

Planning a Rest Day

Things to include in a rest day:

  • Sleeping in
  • Luxurious breakfast
  • Reading a book
  • Watching a movie
  • Taking a nap
  • Playing games
  • Taking a walk
  • Going to the beach
  • Hiking
  • Crafting
  • Coloring 
  • Eating at a restaurant
  • Doing out of the ordinary things that are restful and enjoyable

What I found in the early few weeks was that during the week when I came across something fun to do, I was able to assign it a day when I could actually do it! Previously, a fun activity was relegated to “some day”. Now, it is dedicated to happen this week!

I also discovered a lot more peace and rhythm to my weeks.

The last month has been one in which our weekends have been jam-packed with conferences, amusement parks, and family events. I have not had my rest day in the way that I was growing accustomed. And I miss it!

I know now that I can’t keep going like I once did. I know that my body and my brain need a day of fun and recreation. I need a rest day each week. In fact, now I crave it!

I’m finding that resting my mind, body, and soul, it helps me work better through the week.

Do you have a rest day?

Be sure to check out the rest of this 31-day series, Organization for Normal People.


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  1. Every Sunday my aim is not to have to cook. My family doesn’t believe me though, so I usually end up doing something. I take a nap after church and the kids watch a movie. After my nap I do something I enjoy, such as reading or planning. When I don’t get my nap, the rest of the week is more challenging.

    1. For a long time, I planned a snacky lunch and take-out for dinner. That worked well. Maybe you could plan on TJ’s frozen meals for Sunday?

  2. I don’t have a rest day, but I sure wish I did. I need to figure out how to fit one in. It sounds like it’s really made a difference in your life.

  3. Jessica,
    I love your website. I love your recipes. They are always a hit for taste and nutrition.

    Like you I have trouble stopping to rest on the weekend. But if I don’t, it shows in my performance through the week. I mean, I can’t make the whole week without missing a day at work or being late.

    My favorite thing to do is sleep in, eat, then watch TV until I fall back asleep. I could do this all weekend, just get up for food and drink. When I feel rested, I start laundry and sweep out the house and I’m ready for a new week. The last few weekends tho, I have been working on my house, underpinning and other yard work and haven’t rested the way I like to. The way I need to. Listen to your body. If you feel like being lazy, it’s probably a signal that you need rest. Especially for a go-getter like you.

    I can see me sitting up in the bed making the class plans and making the older kids help the younger ones. It may not get done to your standards, but I assure you, you’re kids are amazing like their mom and they will make it. I’m worried about you; I bet it wouldn’t hurt to take more than 1 day of rest until you start feeling better.


    1. Thank you for your encouraging words! I’m doing okay. No worries. 😉 The wedding is over. We just have an inspection with the owners of our house next week that I want to tidy up, and then my calendar is clear.

  4. I had heard about the idea growing up, but it was in a very legalistic religious setting. The things were more along the lines of what you CAN’T do, and as such they felt restricting. There was no teaching to go along with it, just a list of rules.
    As an adult, I had started to feel that this was something that I should be doing, but it didn’t really click for me until about a year ago. I had come across the spiritual command in some reading that I was doing. At the same time, I saw it put into practice in a positive way. I realized it was not meant to be constraining, but freeing. I learned to do this, and rather than have a specific list of things I don’t do, I focus on things that I WANT to do- like reading- Bible and other books, crafting, walking, biking, time with family or friends, cooking (if it’s something I want to do to relax), and things like that.
    I try to stay off the computer, because then I can get sucked into work or obligations. There’s always more to do.
    Of course, there are always things you have to do when you have a family, so no day is going to be complete rest. But I can reduce what has to be done. There was a time (for about a year) where we prepared the bulk of our meal on Saturday, and that helped make Sunday more relaxing. That only lasted until we went somewhere without refrigeration. 😉
    I have noticed now when I don’t get that rest, I’m not set up for the rest of the week.

  5. I have always observed the Sabbath, though as a child it was because it was what my family did, now we make a point to talk to our children about remembering the Sabbath and to keep it holy. For us, we try not to do anything that requires us to work or others to work for us. No eating out, going to the store, running errands, movies, etc. We also choose not to watch TV because I feel like we should devote a day to God, not just take a rest for ourselves. We attend church, get together with family or friends, we go for walks or mountain drives and pay more attentions to all of God’s beautiful creations, we read stories and choose a new scripture for the week for the family to work on memorizing. We write letters to cousins and grandparents, we sing songs as a family, we sometimes take a nap or rest. We try to focus on what we can do to devote our day to God, and not to ourselves. Some days are more peaceful than others, but hey, we are a work in progress!

  6. Hi,

    Can you give me some ideas on how to plan the rest of the week so a rest day can happen? I also have 4 kids I homeschool, work part-time and make all our food from scratch. I realized this summer that I am tired and scrambling all the time. If I take a day off from prepping for the next day or week, I feel like I am buried in tasks/ to do lists. I don’t have the time to sit and color or take long walks or read a book in the afternoon. I am trying to lay down every day for 20min. But would love a long stretch where I could do “nothing ” but feed my spirit. Thanks for your posts. They inspire me!

    1. It does take work to make room for rest. That is why all these “extras” in our life the past few weeks have invaded my rest days. I am trying to get back on track. I think part of the trick is being really organized the other 6 days and just saying no on the 7th. My house is usually a wreck by the end of that 7th day, but I’ve decided not to care. 😉

  7. I think the key is deciding what constitutes rest for you. In my case, I work at a desk 8 to 10 hours a day all week. The last thing I want to do on my days off is rest in the traditional sense — sleeping in, napping in the afternoon or sitting quietly with a book. For me rest is taking a break and engaging in something that is physically active outdoors. Sometimes it’s something simple like going for a long walk, other times it is what many would consider work such as raking the fall leaves. In the summertime I try to go swimming every weekend. Sunday evenings we try to engage the kids in a board game or movie night.

    1. Great point! It was so refreshing when a friend told me that they had no qualms about skipping church on days when things were crazy and they knew it would stress her and her husband out to get all the kids ready. I found that so freeing.

      I think you’re right in finding the activities that are restful.

  8. I grew up in a family that kept the Sabbath day holy, and have raised my children that way too. We attend church each Sunday, enjoy family time at home, and occasionally visit friends or invite them to our house. Because we don’t want to ask others to work on our behalf, we don’t shop, eat out, or attend sporting events or concerts. It all a nice break from the other six days.

  9. For 43 years I have kept the Sabbath as a rest day, to worship, to study God’s Word. to meditate, to take looong walks, or long drives. It has taught me a lot about myself and much about the God we love. I have learned that there is a reason for everything God tells us to do or not to do. He made our human body, He knows what we need to do with it. If I didn’t rest on the Sabbath, I, like you, would work 7 days a weeks, wearing down my mind, spirit and body. Taking that one day to reflect and breath in God’s creation and purpose becomes a way of life, Seeing your happy children unstressed over “everyday” life is only one of the blessings. I don’t think we regard how much stress there is on our little ones. They need a rest day as well.

  10. We’re Christians, but had heard little about this concept until recently. Our pastor pointed out that we tend to take the other ten commandments very seriously, but treat the Sabbath one is irrelevant. He talked about how when Christ states in the New Testament that “Man is not made for the day of rest, but the day of rest for Man” it didn’t mean he is dismissing the importance of the Sabbath. Rather, it meant that people don’t properly use the Sabbath by obsessing over a list of strict legal rules defining what is and isn’t work and just how much you can do (Man being a slave to the Sabbath), but that the Sabbath is meant for Man’s benefit and physical, mental, and spiritual refreshment (not just as another day to get things done, run errands, and do yard chores).

    Over the last year we, too, have tried to implement a rest day and have benefited tremendously from the regular planned break. At first we scratched our heads, because with four kids three and under there’s just not a lot of time to put your feet up and “rest” in the typical sense even if you’re sitting around at home. Nobody can be safely left alone to entertain themselves, nobody can care for themselves, and mess is gauranteed. In our house, the loose guidelines we came up with are that we take a break from non-critical chores (some things like the dishes and tidying after play just always have to be done), don’t do errands, and focus on family time. We also don’t watch any TV or movies but try to pick entertainment that is a bit more enriching for the day. Typically, we go to the early service at church, then almost always change clothes and hike or go to a park right afterwards in almost any weather (except pouring 35 degree rain…that’s just not fun for anyone!). Family lunch, then, when the kids go down for naps my husband and I read, enjoy quite talks, prepare for Bible Study, or play games. After the kids are up and have had their snack we enjoy a little more family time, then head to our friends’ home for our Bible Study and small group dinner. It’s funny how managing our time affects things. If you’d asked us five years ago when there were just the two of us if we could take a day off from chores and to-dos we’d have laughed. We NEEDED that day to catch up on laundry, grocery shop, tend the yard, etc. Yet somehow, now, with four more people and a little planning we can make it happen. It is so incredibly restful and energizing knowing we have a whole day to enjoy before diving into the week. We LOVE our Sundays now. Curious to hear how this works for others!