Rivkie Brownstein, Beis Moshiach
Shabbos preparations was usually stressful in our home. I would spend all day cooking and cleaning and feel snappy at times with my kids and husband. As I got older (and wiser :)) I realized that being happy and calm is the most important thing above all else.
Shabbos is a special day, and if serving Hashem with joy is the goal, as well as having my kids develop a positive feeling for Shabbos, what can I do to make it more pleasurable?
As I tried to shift my focus from impressing others to thinking what will bring the most joy and peace, it began transforming the way I do things. Here are some of the tips that work in our home to help me feel less depleted and more joyful when Shabbos comes in.
1) Plan Ahead and Spread It Out:
Planning ahead and spreading things out throughout the week helps avoid the Erev Shabbos rush. As far as shopping, I keep a magnetic notepad on my fridge. Every time I run out of something, or I notice we are running low on an item we will be needing more of, I add it to the list. I also think of my menu before I shop and that way I can add any ingredients I may need to the list. This avoids multiple trips to the store and you can shop once without needing to borrow from neighbors or rushing to the store on erev shabbos.
I like to bake challah earlier in the week and freeze it so I know it is out of the way. I shop on Wednesday, cook on Thursday and do last minute things on Friday. If I have a lot to do, I like to get up early on Friday morning before the kids are awake to get a head start on things that have to be done before Shabbos.
2) Menu Inspiration:
Each week, a friend of mine chooses one child to be the Shabbos Queen or Prince. That child gets to help choose what to cook that week and they feel extra special having chosen their favorites!
Since I have a cleaning lady on Fridays Boruch Hashem, I try to get all the cooking done before she comes so she can clean. The special child of the week is even able to bake and choose the Shabbos dessert as long as they do it before the cleaning lady comes!
3) Keep it Super Simple:
Unless making elaborate meals is something you truly enjoy, there is no need to go crazy. I like making super quick easy things and they happen to taste just as delicious! If standing in the kitchen too long stresses you out, it is not a mitzvah to make yourself crazy.
Some examples: I make a big bag of frozen green beans, place it on a baking sheet with olive oil and frozen garlic cubes. Bake for an hour and they are delicious! Instead of kugel I take baby potatoes and put them in the oven with oil and spices. I put rice underneath the chicken and top with spices. Easy things like this taste just as delicious as complicated recipes.
4) Get the Kids to Help:
Take some time to figure out what works best for you but there is no need for us to do it all alone when we have wonderful helpers who are more then capable of being involved! I have a big white board in my kitchen and on Friday I write down a few jobs that need to be done. Each child chooses a job.
Examples can include: setting the table, polishing the leichter, vacuuming, putting away the toys etc.
When the kids were younger I would ask my husband to take the kids out while I got ready for shabbos which would be the biggest help.
When everyone is all ready for Shabbos (showered, dressed, finished their job and ate) the kids get to play games on the computer. But if electronics is something you would rather not use, you can take out a special Shabbos game or maybe an erev Shabbos treat – just something special to get the kids eager to get ready in a timely fashion without constant reminders.
5) Slow Down and Take Care of Yourself:
When I feel myself getting stressed I like to put on soothing slow niggunim or happy upbeat music. It helps the energy shift and lifts my mood which affects everyone else as well!
Just because it is a busy day does not mean we have to neglect ourselves! Taking the time to sit down and eat proper meals is so important. (I get super cranky when I’m hungry!) I also feel really good when I work out so I make sure to get a good run in especially on Fridays when I know I’ll be working hard! If I’m really stressed I’ll try to fit in a short nap. Figure out what makes you happy and don’t forget to add it into your schedule! It’s ok if not everything is done perfectly – the most important thing is a happy mommy! And if we don’t take care of ourselves, who will?
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