We were all sick. Everyone in the house was miserable. We had just gotten through Thanksgiving and we were staring down the barrel of another busy Christmas. I was behind on all my projects and my stress level was high.

I was getting short with the kids, constantly tempted to escape into Youtube and world news. I just so badly wanted to get over this sickness so I could get back to work.

Then it dawned on me: I’ve been feeling like this for a long time, even before I was sick – for months actually. So I started reflecting: When did this start?

My mind went to a construction project we began in our home to remodel our bathrooms, which took about 6 months from start to finish. During that time, I was taking my personal weekly Sabbath time on Monday mornings, then Jen would take hers on Monday afternoons, after homeschooling.

The problem was that was our only rest during the week. To make things worse, we had gotten away from our weekly Family Sabbath day, settling for half-days here and there…whenever we felt like the kids needed more of our attention (aka “make-up” time).

But because our family rest was so unpredictable, the kids were feeling unstable and insecure, never knowing what was going on from week to week, in addition to the constant disruption of construction happening in our home.

Bottom line, it was a difficult season for us. But the fact that we did not anchor our family in predictable rhythms of rest made it even harder. And there we were, months later, feeling the cost and trying to pick up the pieces.

So, what did we do? Finally, we all began to feel well enough one day to go outside and spend time at a park. Then Jen and I did what we have done many times before – we evaluated our schedule, identified the gaps, and started reimagining our week.

In this third and final part of our series, Creating Healthy Rhythms of Family Rest, I want to share about the importance of making rest predictable and what it might look like to prioritize rest on your calendar so you can truly work from rest instead of resting from work.

The Importance of Predictable Patterns

When we talk about creating healthy rhythms, we are also talking about stabilizing our family through predictability. When we feel stable, then we can feel secure. And the more secure we feel, the easier it is to develop a sense of our own significance and purpose in the world.

The question is, what kind of restful rhythms will stabilize our families and still leave room to get everything done?

Daily Rhythms.

As we said in part 2 of this series, we need a daily rhythm of rest in order to combat the constant assault on our identity, to put the false voices of approval, appetite, and ambition in check so we aren’t living out of our anxiety.

Depending on the stage of life you are in and how much margin you have, this daily pattern can be 10-15 minutes, or an hour or more.

We know a mom who wakes up religiously at 4am to get her quiet time, 2-3 hours before everyone else wakes up. Because our kids are younger (and still waking us up in the middle of the night), it is difficult to wake up early. So our daily rhythms look more like 10-15 minute intervals of rest throughout the day.

During this time, typically in a quiet place, we can be reading or meditating on Scripture, praying, listening, doing breathing exercises, journaling, or prayer walking.

Most days, this happens in the morning, and occasionally at night. But we make sure to make room for it one way or another.

We also instituted a daily quiet time for our kids, to give them space to be alone, get quiet, and decompress during the day. Sometimes we take this opportunity to quiet ourselves. Other times we use their quiet time to get some work done. We recommend 30 minutes to one hour every day for this.

Weekly Rhythms.

As we said, a weekly Family Sabbath Day is non-negotiable for us, even if it’s only a half-day. This time is flexible. Sometimes we put all our screens away and just spend the day at home coloring together, playing board games, or reading stories. If it’s a nice day, we may walk down to the local park together.

Other days we go on adventures to new or favorite places, mostly outdoors. We pack as much food as we can and typically buy one meal while we are out. Our range is anywhere interesting within 1-2 hours of our house.

Whatever you do, prioritize connection over escape and be vigilant against anything that competes for your attention…especially screens and technology.

In addition, if possible, it is also helpful to add a weekly personal sabbath day – 2-6 hours to get quiet and go on a little adventure.

I love to go on hikes during these times or explore nearby cities I haven’t been to. I also love to be near water, like lakes, or creeks, the ocean or the bay.

Sometimes I will treat myself to a special lunch or coffee shop experience. This can also be a good time to catch up with close friends on occasion.

Monthly Rhythms.

If you find it difficult to implement a weekly family sabbath day, then a monthly one can be very helpful. Because these days happen less often, they should definitely be big adventures that are filled with fun, food, laughter, and recreation.

A monthly Date Day with your spouse can also be a great rhythm, especially if it is too difficult (or expensive) to get weekly date nights. About once a month, we leave our kids with friends or family for an entire day while we explore, eat, and have important conversations.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to find time to reconnect and talk with your spouse, especially when it is so difficult to have important conversations in the middle of our weekly routines of work and school.

On these Date Days (typically after lots of play and food), we have been able to process more issues in an hour than we could otherwise in 3 months!

Now, a date should never feel like a business meeting (or a therapy session), and when we are able to have shorter dates during the week, our policy is to talk about anything but the kids and our problems, rather we want to focus on our marriage.

But there is plenty of time in a full, monthly Date Day to do all the above, though we recommend a starting point of fun, food, and recreation.

Seasonal Rhythms.

 One of the vacation hacks we figured out is to prioritize seasonal mini-vacations over annual or semi-annual extended vacations. We realized extended vacations were such a huge disruption to our regular routines that it often took a month to recover from them. Not to mention they are an enormous expense.

Instead, we take 3-4 nights away every few months somewhere about 2-4 hours away from home. This gives us a chance to quickly reset between seasons, and grab some deep rest before moving into any new challenges.

Mini-vacations also give us something special to look forward to as a family without feeling like we have to wait too long for it.

Whether you go camping or stay in a hotel or airbnb, these short trips make extended trips less frequent but more special, and usually oriented around seeing the people we love. Which brings us to our last rhythm of rest…

Annual Rhythms.

Most people are accustomed to an extended 1-2 week vacation every year, and most years we also do this, usually to see friends and family, often staying with them to save money.

But this can also be a cross-country trip, cross-continental trip, or even a work trip that you bring your family on (perhaps tacking on some extra time for actual rest). Or it can be that special Hawaii vacation you saved up for.

We have made some of our best memories and gotten the deepest quality of rest on these trips. They are definitely worth saving up for and prioritizing on your calendar.

The Art of Pruning

At this point you may be thinking, “You make it sound so simple. But how in the world could I possibly fit that much rest into my already overcrowded life?”

The hard truth is, the only way to say yes to healthy, predictable rhythms of rest is to say no to many other things…maybe even good things.

For instance, we don’t overcommit our kids to tons of extracurricular activities. We pick one or two things for them all to do together, and we choose them based on how well they coincide with our rhythms of rest. We also homeschool our kids year-round to have the flexibility to rest more often (and in off-seasons).

But it wasn’t easy getting there. We needed to make several hard decisions about the amount of activity in our lives, as well as the people we gave access to.

When Jesus invited His disciples to abide in Him, He also mentioned every branch that bears fruit for His kingdom would be pruned so it could bear more fruit (John 15:2).

In other words, God is always trying to prune things out of our lives to make room for better things that create lasting fruit.

To Jesus, this is what Sabbath rest is truly about – intentionally living in connection to God and submitting to the leading of His Spirit, resulting in a freedom and “abundant life” (John 10:10).

And the biggest factor in creating and sustaining healthy rhythms of rest is whether or not we will choose to believe this truth.

So, as you move forward in your pursuit of deeper, more consistent rest, be sure to pay attention to what God is showing you along the way. He knows what you need and how to get you where we need to go.

God bless you as you embark on this new adventure of creating your own healthy family rhythms of rest!

Reflection Questions:

  1. Which of these rhythms of rest (daily, weekly, monthly, etc) are you already living out? Which ones would you like to add?
  2. As you evaluate your weekly schedule, which blocks of time feel too busy? Mornings, afternoons, or nights? Where can you open up some margin?
  3. What would it look like to schedule rest and vacation on your calendar before committing to anything else? How far out can you comfortably schedule rest or vacation?



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