Full question: What did your family do on Sundays (besides church)? What Sunday rules or traditions did you have? How did you spend your time?
There are some different opinions represented here as far as Sunday strictness, so it was interesting to see that you can probably approach Sundays from a couple different angles and still reach good results if your motivation is right.
Sunday box with activities and games
Interviews with Dad
Journals, written or dictated
Watch Church videos or movies
Play board games
Marianne (and John)
We were pretty strict with Sunday activities. We treasured our time together after and before church meetings. There was almost no TV, no playing with friends and very few outside activities. We learned quickly that Sunday could be pretty long and kids could get "cabin fever" without some planning. We always had a Sunday box full of Sunday games, scripture puzzles, tapes, books, etc. For many years we also did "Sunday Stations" where we would set up 5 different activities (we have 5 children) around the house for about 15 minutes each. They would include things like writing letters to missionaries or family members, reading the Friend, PPI's with dad, practicing the Articles of Faith, working on their Cub Scout book, scripture stories or tapes, or writing in their journals, etc. My husband and I would man the room where help was needed (ie practicing the Articles of Faith.) As the buzzer would ring, everyone would move to the next room. That seemed to be our most successful activity on the Sabbath. We always made chocolate chip cookies and would visit grandparents every Sunday evening when they were alive.
Jane (and Samuel)
We always had Sunday Dinner and we expected kids to stay sort of dressed up in respect for the Sabbath. We always went to church and we didn't go to movies or sports activities or watch TV on Sunday. We did read, occasionally do journal stuff, visit grandparents do art projects and sometimes play games and when things got hectic with teens we often had Home Evening on Sunday. I think Sunday Dinner was the best. We worked together to prepare it and set the table special in the Dining Room and often had dinner guests especially when we lived away from family. We sat around the table a long time after dinner talking. We often asked about activities and what had been talked about in church. It was a laid back day with naps and no homework.
Anna (and Gerry)
When I was a young mother I had an idealistic plan of how we would spend our Sabbath days….…we would stay in our church clothes so we could all recognize a difference in the day, there would be no television, we’d read scriptures and do all things wonderful! It didn’t take too long to realize that I had to do what worked with MY family, and not worry about the expectations of everyone else. I gave up on the Sunday clothing thing, because replacing those cute clothes was simply too costly for our budget. We relaxed our rules on television viewing and sometimes watched a Disney movie in the evenings, and tried to keep the day peaceful. Sometimes that meant allowing some important sports games that were televised, to be watched by the teenage sports fans. We learned to make concessions in just about every area in order to keep peace in the house, and that was probably more effective in keeping the Sabbath day holy, than were some of the “offending” activities.
We always had a nice Sunday meal. We asked that the children spend Sunday with the family, rather than friends. We used it as a day for Father’s interviews, reading, playing games together, or as I said, we did watch appropriate movies together.
We certainly could have been more strict, but I really don’t think it would have accomplished anything good, at our house. Every family, and even every child is different, and you have to do what works for your family.
Cynthia (and Brad)
My husband was always so busy that Sunday was mostly left up to me, the mother. This is sort of connected to the rebellion question. I honestly think that the rebellion didn't happen at our house because our Sunday rules were not so restrictive as they became teenagers. Basically, when they were little the creative motherhood activities sufficed, but as they got older, hanging out with friends and going to each other's houses for dinner, etc. were allowed. Just no spending money and no driving around . And no activities, such as sports. The "having to stay in Sunday clothes, reading only uplifting books and listening to uplifting music" is where I, personally, think we Mormons carry it a little too far. There is a period of time in there where that is too much for teenagers.
Brianne and Spencer
Sundays were family day, no playing with friends. When we moved close to extended family - we spent time visiting and having family dinners. We always allowed individual time for teenagers to use as they needed - to be rested. Sometimes they did homework in a pinch - we let them make their own choices. Sometimes we played games as a family, and watched videos together. It was a more relaxed day with time for conversation.
Rachel (and Bennett)
Sundays were a real struggle! We tried
to make Sunday a family day, with no playing with friends. Most of the
time we were successful, but that meant that I had to have activities to
keep them busy. I tried to find church-related activities and books,
and we tried to teach the children that Sunday was a day to focus on
church-related topics. For a while I helped them make entries into a
journal. Some of the things that were written (or dictated to me) are
quite priceless. I was, however, unable to keep doing that on a regular
basis. Sundays were mostly just an effort in survival, and they
definitely were not restful. I don't think any of my children learned
to enjoy Sunday. I think an important factor in successful Sundays
would be to have two parents involved, and to do fun things as a
family. I rarely had the support of my husband, and by the time I had
spent three hours at church (even when the children were older), I was
exhausted with not much energy to be fun or creative! Hopefully,
someone else will have better ideas!
Marsha (and Richard)
Our Sundays were and still are basically family time. When our children were little and we moved to a new area we found that the children in our neighborhood did not play with friends on Sundays. It was very easy for us to adopt that same standard. Sunday was family day and we spent it at home with family. After church we usually had a nice family dinner, played board games, wrote in journals, read books, called other family members, etc. Because we had several children, it was easy for them to be entertained by one another. We enjoyed making cookies or candy.
We tried to minimize TV though once in a while sports won out for the male members of the family. It was not a hard, fast rule. Sometimes we went for a walk, visited a new family and did church work. It was a time to work toward preparing lessons, making phone calls, etc.
At one point we had a Sunday Box with special coloring books, puzzles and activities that were more geared toward Sunday. I can’t remember just what was in the box, but we pulled it out just on Sundays. Sunday evenings have always been a time for our family to gather when possible. Our grandchildren all ask their parents if they can get together with “the cousins” on Sunday evening. Those who can, gather at one of our homes. For years it was our home, but now our children sometimes like to host. We often celebrate birthdays on Sunday evenings.
Since these Sunday evenings can become a bit rambunctious, we are trying to introduce a time when we take the baptized grandchildren into our loft for a “loft discussion” where we can discuss a gospel or meaningful subject for half an hour and draw on the example of older grandchildren to teach and encourage the younger ones.
We set a standard of staying in our Sunday clothes, though our children have not chosen to follow that same standard in their own families. Our feeling was that if we stayed dressed up, it would help us remember it was a day of worship and we would keep our activities a little more in keeping with that spirit. We still feel that way. At least when our children change clothes, they are careful to make their clothing still a bit nicer and Sunday appropriate.
Abigail and Martin
We tried to make Sunday a different day from another day of the week. We all stayed in our Sunday clothes, or if for some reason the girls dresses were extra fancy, they would change into another dress. It just made it easier to remember to do activities that were more suited to keeping the Sabbath day holy. We would often visit people that we didn’t ordinarily see. For many years we went to my husband’s grandparents who had immigrated from Germany. We would go almost every other Sunday. The older kids got to know and love them very much. It was sad for my oldest when his great grandfather passed away while my son was on his mission. We used Sunday for a spiritual family night. Since our kids were involved in tons of activities, we couldn’t always have family night on Monday. We had formal family night lessons and we had informal “discussions”. (Our kids called them lectures.) Sometimes we would watch church videos. Occasionally they were corny and some were boring, but we enjoyed watching them together. We also played games, generally church oriented, likes Jots and Tittles or Which Prophet Said.
We have always been considered very strict on our Sunday activities. In addition to staying in our Sunday clothes, we did not watch regular TV programs or watch or participate in sporting activities. We sometimes took leisurely walks. We read. We encouraged our children to complete their schoolwork on Saturday and not to do homework on Sunday. They followed that counsel quite well and were always able to do very well in school, including college.
Kenneth and Catherine
We did not watch TV on Sunday and encouraged reading and practicing musical instruments. We would visit grandparents and other relatives. We would hold personal interviews on Fast Sundays that our children still remember with fondness. Special family dinners were important and we held family councils where we planned the calendar for the coming week and discussed conflicts and challenges.
Next week's question: How did you use your home (walls, etc.) to teach your children? What specific pictures, phrases, etc. in your home do you think most influenced your kids?