As a mom and an entrepreneur, taking a day off is not in my nature. I don't have time for a day off. Heck - I don't even have time to eat sitting down! When I wake up with a scratchy throat, my first reaction is a panic prayer: "Dear God, please don't let me be sick â ”I don't have time for this!"
Often I get so absorbed in the urgency of my responsibilities, that slowing down seems like giving up. But keeping holy the Sabbath day is actually a habit that helps me recharge and prepare for the week to come. Here are five simple strategies I use to make the most of my weekly day of rest. (If your business requires you to work on Sunday, then try implementing these strategies another day of the week!)
1. Screen-Free Sunday: The rule in our house on Sunday is to unplug. This means no computer, no TV (except during football season or the Tour de France), no Nintendo DS, no Blackberry surfing, or any other activity that involves a screen. It's a huge challenge for me - and I certainly have been known to make exceptions (that's my way of saying I break the rule!). But I try to honor the basic principle that Sundays are for connecting F2F (face to face).
By unplugging on Sunday, I give myself permission to not respond immediately. I revoke the self-imposed edict that requires me to drop everything and answer a text message or reply to an email. It's a liberating feeling to ignore that vibrating Blackberry and know that the world will not fall apart. Like starting a new workout routine, it's painful at first, but after awhile it becomes a welcome habit.
2. Sunday Summit: Many people go through life on autopilot, moving from task to task, job to job, activity to activity…without giving much thought to how they are living their lives or why they are making certain choices. One simple strategy I use to ensure that I am living with awareness and purpose is to hold a weekly meeting to reflect and plan - first with myself, then with my family. I set aside 30 minutes Sunday morning to journal about the week that has passed and any thoughts, feelings or plans for the week ahead. My journal usually takes the form of prayers in which I thank the Lord for the blessings of the previous week and ask for courage, wisdom and grace to take on the challenges of the coming week. I consider my business goals for the week and jot them down in my business journal.
At dinnertime, I also review the calendar with my family, making sure everyone knows what is on the schedule so there are no last-minute surprises. We discuss the transportation schedule, childcare arrangements, errands, assignments, special occasions or activities for the week.
3. Sunday Safeguard: Sundays have traditionally been a family day for me, but as my children grow older, it becomes more difficult to honor that tradition. Other than church, there are not any routine Sunday commitments on the calendar. But inevitably we receive an invitation to a birthday party, a family gathering, a meeting or some other activity. The temptation is to accept all of these invitations - how could we possibly say no when we don't have any other plans? But here's the thing: it's good to have no plans once a week. It's rewarding and rejuvenating to simply enjoy togetherness and nothingness for one afternoon a week.
The key to safeguarding family time is to learn the art of saying no with grace and clarity - and without guilt. This doesn't mean I turn down every Sunday invitation, but it enables be to examine each event with a critical eye. I ask myself: does this event support my goals to spend Sunday time as a family? And will this event cause additional stress in my life? Oftentimes, I realize that my reasons for attending have more to do with obligation that with anything else. As long as I keep in mind my priority of protecting family time, I am able to decline invitations that do not serve our family for whatever reason. My personal "Say No Without Guilt" process is this:
â ¢Make a decision and respond quickly. Most of the time, I know right away if we are able to attend. If I wait to respond, the decision becomes a drain on my mental energy - and it usually doesn't change my response.
â ¢Do not feel pressure to explain. A simple, graceful "no, thank you" is all that is required. The more "reasons" I share, the more they begin to sound like excuses.
â ¢Be very clear. If I know for certain that I don't plan to attend, I am clear in my language when I decline. I don't leave it open by saying, "We'll try to stop by" or "Can we play it by ear?" This only creates false expectations and more negative energy for me to carry around.
â ¢Don't worry. Be happy. With clarity and purpose, I can gracefully decline any invitation. But I need to let go of the reaction of others. I can't waste valuable energy worrying about what others think of my decision. If I've made the choice based on my personal and family priorities, I take heart in knowing that I am honoring this time as a family.
â ¢Don't look back. Once I make a decision, I am confident in my choice. Even if I am disappointed, I let go of the belief that I am missing out on something. And I have faith that there will always be another invitation.
4. Sunday Solitude: With all the free time I create by turning off my computer and keeping my schedule open, I am able to find time for myself. As a busy mom of three, I treasure any time I spend alone. So every Sunday, I carve out a few minutes of solitude to journal, read a good book, practice yoga, get a pedicure or take a bath. My favorite solo activity is sleeping in.
5. Sunday Funnies: When I was a child, I loved reading the Funny Pages. My favorite cartoons were Family Circus and Cathy. (Perhaps that says something about my life path! ) Nowadays I don't always read the Sunday paper until later in the week, but the gift of the comics is in the laughter therapy. I know I am biased, but I happen to think my kids are the funniest people on the planet. And my husband is hilarious in his own way. So, spending time with them always leaves me doubled over with laughter that relieves stress better than any massage.
So, next Sunday, when you are trying to decide if you should run to the grocery store or finish that proposal you've been working on, imagine yourself instead - quietly writing in your journal or laughing with your kids. If you think you don't have time for it, I encourage you to give it a try anyway. You may discover the benefits of a Simple Sunday.
About Theresa Ceniccola:
Theresa Ceniccola is a mother, writer and entrepreneur with a passion for connecting other Christian women and helping small business grow. As a marketing and PR professional, she launched TGC Communications, LLC in 1994 and has been working from home to serve clients and follow her passion while raising a family. She is also co-founder of http://www.writetohealth.com/, a guided journaling practice dedicated to helping people discover the health benefits of writing. You can connect with Theresa on her blog at http://www.theresaceniccola.com/.
Find this article at: http://www.crosswalk.com/parenting/11637408/