Reclaiming Sunday Nights

Ever since I can remember, I’ve dreaded Sunday nights.  And I was one of those strange kids that liked school and even more fortunate adults who liked her job – and I still dreaded Sunday nights.  How did mere mortals feel?

The finality of the weekend is always such a bummer.  In what seems counterintuitive to me, it’s even harder now that I am a stay-at-home mom.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being home with my daughter.  And one of the perks that came as a surprise to me was how much better the weekends are now that I’m home during the week.  I work hard to get all the stuff that is necessary for life done during the week so that when the weekend comes, we can focus on enjoying it.  Enjoy it we do.  And then Sunday night comes and all I can think is “it’s five long days until we’re back here again.”  It’s a really terrible perspective.

A couple months ago, I read an article in Real Simple where people shared meal highlights and ideas.  One lady wrote about how she grew up with Sunday nights being the one night a week that her mother didn’t make a complete meal or they didn’t sit at the dining room table to eat it.  I can’t remember the exact menu, except that it included a baguette and popcorn and they ate it at the coffee table while watching TV.  I was immediately drawn to the idea of doing something “special” – but simple – on Sunday nights as a family.

So I instituted Sunday Night Snacky Supper.  We have Bible Study every other Sunday night, but on the Sundays when we’re home, it’s Snacky Supper.  The menu varies slightly, but usually includes a meat and cheese tray, crackers, veggies & dip, and fruit.  I joke that it’s snacks disguised as a meal.  Admittedly, sometimes my husband says that I don’t disguise it enough.  If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll add a hot appetizer of some sort.

We’ve been doing this for a couple months, and I have loved it.  One of the side benefits that I didn’t realize until after we did it for a few weeks was that is was a great excuse to get all the fruits and veggies washed and cut up before the week.  Both my husband and I are great about snacking on fruits and veggies if they’re in a container in the fridge.  If they’re “whole” and in the crisper drawer, we don’t touch them.  I don’t know why, it’s just the way we both are.  So prepping supper on Sunday nights does double-duty for getting easily accessible healthy snacks.

My husband and I aren’t big TV watchers – in that we don’t have shows that we watch.  We do, however, love sports, so if we’re watching TV, there’s a 90% chance that a sporting event is on our TV. Most Sundays, I bring Snacky Supper to our family room and we eat supper while watching a game.

Last Sunday, there was no sporting event on, so I suggested that we have a family Wii tournament.  I honestly don’t know where the idea came from.  I’ve played Wii ten times in my life, maybe.  But I thought it would be a fun change of pace.  We invited family to join us, but they had other plans, so it was just my husband, me and our 21 month old.  My husband and I played tennis, bowled, hit home runs (or, in my case, didn’t hit home runs) and golfed.  In between turns, we ventured over to the supper trays and grazed.  We let our daughter do the same thing.  She’s never had a meal that didn’t involve sitting in her chair with her food on her plate, so we weren’t sure how it would go, but she did great.  We started out with a plate on her lap, but once she finished that, then she did what Mom and Dad did.  This was in between her laughing at the funny dances I did when I had a great shot and cheering for whoever was up at the moment she decided to cheer.

It was one of the most fun nights we’ve had a in a long time.  And it happened on a Sunday!  It wasn’t until I laid down that night that I realized that it was Sunday night and I was in a good mood.  It had been too long since that had been the case.

Snacky Supper had been a tradition for a while now, but this new game component of it was here to stay.

It won’t always be Wii Tournaments, if, for no other reason than I’m not sure which emotion would hit first for me, boredom or frustration with constantly losing.  This summer, it will probably be an assortment of lawn games.  During the long Minnesota winters, I’d imagine it will be back to Wii and good old-fashioned board games.  The common denominator being that there will be some sort of fun activity for our family to do together.

The reason that I was always so grumpy on Sunday nights is that our family time had come to a close.  What Snacky Supper made me realize is that instead of wasting the little bit of remaining time left mourning that, I should take advantage of it with the very people that make the weekends so great.

Reclaiming Sunday nights (or whatever time where you need what my Grandpa used to call an “attitude adjustment”) was all about figuring out what brought me the most joy.  For some people it may be that they need to be alone.  For others, they may want to enjoy a really nice dinner on their fancy china in their formal dining room.  For me, it was being intentional about spending time with my family and doing something fun.  As far as the meal, the key has been that I don’t have to decide what to make each week and I don’t have to spend a lot of time with prep, cooking or clean-up.

Now the problem is looking forward to Sunday nights so much that I have to be careful not to wish the weekend away.  Not a bad problem to have.

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