At first it seemed like there was a lot to do… and a lot we couldn’t do. What we quickly realized is that with any new thing there is a learning curve. Coming to the understanding of observing biblical Sabbath (or Shabbat) was no different. As most of us ladies do, I looked for Facebook groups, Pinterest pins, and Google posts to help better understand how to prepare for Shabbat and what in the world we were supposed to do.
One post after another I began to see a trend… “do it this way, do it that way, that way is wrong, this way is right.” Every time I’d bring a question or concern to Bryan he’d remind me, “Let’s just stick to what Scripture says. We can’t go wrong with that.” I have to give my husband lots of praise because he is not up for putting tradition above Truth. And that is the foundation to why preparing for Shabbat and enjoying it as a family has been such a blessing.
We currently have four kiddos: a six-month-old, two-year-old, three-year-old, and a ten-year-old. In the beginning of this Torah Observant walk, we only had two of the four and our preparation and observance looked a little different (as to be expected). Now with four in tow, we have managed to come up with a way to prepare for Shabbat in a way that involves every family member down to the toddler!
1. Everyone gets a rag! Yep, you read that right. We all get a rag and the spray bottle of homemade cleaner and start our cleaning in the living room. It’s funny to see how much the kiddos enjoy cleaning. I kid you not, they’ll wipe walls, baseboards, windows, and toys for what seems like hours! Typically the 2 and 3-year-old will wipe toys, the window, doors, and bookshelves. The oldest usually goes behind them getting what they missed, sweeps, runs the vacuum cleaner, and takes out the trash. In the meantime, I
attempt to tackle laundry and tidy up our bedroom. The kitchen is another united front where the smaller kiddos sweep and the oldest does the dishes. Needless to say we delegate special cleaning jobs for each of the kids and at the end, we have a nice clean home.
2. What’s on the menu? Sometimes I will already have an idea of what to cook for Shabbat and other times our menu can be a collection of what others have a taste for. Either way, it’s a good family tradition to pick the menu together. Menu preparation also helps to grocery shop (if needed) with a purpose and ensure that the meals cooked will be enough to last through Shabbat (that way we don’t cook on Sabbath).
3. Let’s go shopping! Grocery shopping (at Aldi’s) with ALL of the kiddos can be a task in and of itself, but it can also be an adventurous time. In most cases it’s the latter and we end up talking about almost every food we pass by along with answering the repeated question of, “Can we get that?” To prevent from having a disastrous grocery shopping trip, the kiddos will get special shopping jobs. The oldest is in charge of reading the list and marking items off (sometimes he’s recruited to make the list). The toddlers are in charge of counting the amount of items we get, and they each get to hold one of the items to put on the belt at checkout. Psst… did you know that this counts as homeschooling? 🙂
4. What’s cooking? In the kitchen is one of the sweet spots for Shabbat prep. The kiddos assist in putting up the groceries and they love being around the table while I prepare food (can we say home economics? yeah!). Occasionally they’ll get to help, but they mainly like to eat while I’m trying to cook (especially anything with fresh vegetables). We used to make challah bread every Shabbat but now I’m on the search for a recipe that doesn’t use regular flour or egg. (HELP!) Anyways, to make it easy, I almost always use the slow cooker for whatever meal we will have on Shabbat. I cook an additional meal to enjoy Friday evenings, and if we have any leftovers, we also snack on that throughout Shabbat. We recently started using paper products to help with the pile up of dishes (because we don’t do extra cleaning on Sabbath). Cereal is our go-to for breakfast and fresh fruit, nuts, and berries are great for snacks.
5. What are we gonna do? Choosing what to do on Shabbat has been another journey. At first you may think you can’t do anything but lay around and rest (while that certainly doesn’t hurt). Then you realize that there is lots you can do. Some people have the amazing privilege to gather physically with others while some families like ours livestream virtually with a congregation. We also play LOTS of music, dance, sing, and have a good ol’ time. We read together (usually 2-3 chapters) and end up playing a game I’m gonna call pick-and-read. Pick-and-read is basically finding a place in the Bible and Daddy reads it out loud. The toddler and big brother love doing that. I also have coloring pages and Torah portion activities for the kids to enjoy. Besides all of those things, we may typically watch an animated cartoon show geared toward an aspect of walking out Torah.
So as you can see, observing biblical Sabbath doesn’t have to be mundane or even complicated! That’s why I want to throw in a free Shabbat Prep Family Style printable! This printable will help you plan meals (Friday evening to Saturday evening), thoroughly clean your home, highlight any Scripture or topic studies, plan activities, and jot down any extra preparations if necessary. To make it reusable, simply print and laminate! It can be stored on your refrigerator for easy access.
CHIME IN: How do you prepare for Shabbat? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, checkout how my Sis-in-Yah and her kiddos prep for Shabbat!