Keeping Your Sanity Over the Holiday Season
And your kids' sanity too!
The High Holy Days are coming up and sometimes we feel a little less than holy. Our routines and schedules are thrown out the window. There's so much to do. Mothers often get tense, tempers flare and impatience can reign. How can we maintain our sanity during this time?
1. Maintain some sort of schedule
Holiday time means that we have to be more flexible. Schedules are generally set aside until we take down our Sukkah. However, it is best if we can maintain some sort of structure. Kids (and parents) always do better when there is a routine. For example, you can make mealtime later, but still have mealtime.
2. Don’t neglect basic needs
Check in to make sure that your kids basic needs are being met. This is especially important with your younger kids. Food, sleep, routine (see above) and attention. So if you usually read to your children for 10 minutes a day, cut it down to 5, but still try to keep that time sacred. Have snacks on hand and still maintain some sort of bedtime. I can guarantee that children who are hungry, tired, and deprived of their parent’s attention will misbehave.
3. Expect some misbehavior
Even if you do make sure your kids basic needs are being met and some sort of routine is in place, know that you will be dealing with misbehavior. Don’t pack your schedule so tight that you don’t have time to deal with your toddler’s tantrum, your teen’s bad hair day and the “I don’t have anything to wear” conversation. Siblings who are spending lots of time together will fight. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.
4. Teach your children to help
Children do want to be helpful, but it can be hard to be at a parent's beck and call. It is best if you let your children know beforehand what their jobs will be. Even better, get their input, ask them what job they would like to do.
When you're giving out the jobs that are less desirable, have compassion. Broach the topic with, “Guys, it’s time to divvy up the jobs that no one likes to do! I would so appreciate your cooperation on this. Can everyone just take at least one of the jobs? Oh, and can we limit the grumbling on this? Complaints when it's so busy are hard to hear!”
5. Be realistic with your guest list
I know many families who have a lot of guests, but make sure to make at least one meal just for your immediate family.
When you do have company, try to make sure that they're compatible with your family. Having children the same age as your kids or with similar interests etc. can help to keep everyone occupied and happy.
And when you just can’t – Aunt Martha who complains non-stop and Cousin Fred who constantly admonishes your children are standing Rosh Hashana guests – chalk it up to helping your children learn how to deal with difficult people.
6. Be realistic with your cooking
We can all get a bit of out of control with our cooking, agonizing if you made enough food (the most common worry of the Jewish woman – and husband!). Take it down a notch and relax. It might not be the time for to break out your gourmet cookbooks. Sometimes it’s the simplest recipes that are the most beloved.
7. Make memories
Your children’s memories of the holidays can keep them tied to their family and their faith. No pressure though! Keeping the atmosphere light and positive and just tapping into the beauty and traditions that are already in place can do the trick. The simple things often pack the most punch, like having generations of family gathered around the table, the uplifting and moving melodies of prayers and the fun of decorating the sukkah. Finally,
the traditional foods create the most lasting impressions. Most everyone remembers the sweetness of the apple being dipped in honey, the warm raisin challah and of course the mouthwatering brisket.