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What makes Tishrei hard for you? What do you struggle with? I asked my Instagram followers.
The answers poured in, but summed up, they basically said: I feel overwhelmed physically and underwhelmed spiritually!
I get it! There’s so much going on!
- Housework: cook, mess, clean, repeat.
- Kids: endless days of entertaining them, no schedules, tons of meltdowns
- Feeling spiritual: who has time for that?
I’ve been there. I’m still here, in fact. Over the years, I’ve learned how to hack Tishrei so that it’s manageable, maybe even… enjoyable? It’s still a bit chaotic, but I no longer feel like I’m chasing my tail, and I definitely don’t work myself to the bone.
The secrets of a stress-free Tishrei:
- Lower your expectations.
- Keep your goal in mind.
- Embrace the season you’re in.
Let’s walk through each struggle and see how we can troubleshoot it.
Struggle #1: Housework
Can you relate to this?
- Trying to keep your cool with kids when you’re under stress finishing all the cooking
- The endless planning, shopping and cooking… which is physically and mentally exhausting
- Too much cooking, not enough cleaning help
- Hosting while also taking care of your kids
May I suggest: take your expectations. Delete half of them… and then do that again.
Like, you can totally make a regular, tried and true supper menu. Dessert: apple slices dipped in honey. And there’s always rice cakes topped with tuna, egg salad, jam or cream cheese. Done.
“But Mushka!” you gasp. “That is not Yom Tov! I LIKE to patchke, I buy those overpriced magazines just to look at the recipes, and I enjoy using my China dishes!”
That’s great! I see you. (The way I see an exotic animal, like I really, really don’t understand you but I’m awed and I think you’re awesome, and I’m definitely not the same species as you.)
If you wait all year to pour your creative energies into a beautiful spread that honors Yom Tov – then please, show your children how much joy that gives you. Let that be your thing.
You just can’t have it both ways: maxing yourself out and then stressing out about it. Either don’t do it – lower your expectations, cut corners, and minimize. Or do it happily.
So, quick check-in. And be honest here.
What can you let go of? What is just not your season right now?
- 3-course meals, 3x a day (do you even eat lunch on a regular Monday?)
- More than one main dish
- A picture-perfect meal
- Being able to host (maybe a night meal after bedtime makes more sense to host?)
- Everyone sitting around the perfect meal, behaving nicely
- The kids actually eating your fancy roast and themed salads (all they like is plain chicken… and they’re not touching apples and spinach)
- The magazines with fancy dishes… literally, throw them out or treat as fiction
- Using real dishes or tablecloths
- Using real flatware, even if the dishes are disposable
- Homemade dessert that requires more than two steps
Things to add in:
- Help from your husband or other family member – have that conversation in advance
- Help from your kids – assign them jobs now, not out of pressure
- Easy, simple recipes, even if they’re supper sides
- Tried and true faves from your weekly Shabbos menu
- Allocating your Tishrei funds to where it matters most to you: cleaning help? Cooking help? Disposables? Store bought dips?
Struggle #2: Kids
Does your house look like this too?
- Crazy meal hours
- Late nights, naps off schedule
- Sensory overload
- No structure and no routine
- Home with the kids for long hours at a time while men are at shul
It’s hard for everyone! The only way out is through. Keep your eye on the prize.
Your goal is: a Yom Tov experience that is positive, warm and makes your kids say, “I can’t wait until next year!”
- Follow up a junk breakfast with real food. For example, after our special Shabbos cereal, I feed the kids gefilte fish before they can go to shul.
- Ignore all meal times, and feed kids on their regular schedule. You don’t need a gorgeous, full salmon filet for the 3pm meal. Cut it at noon and serve lunch. (Pro tip: when cooking, make separate kid portions so you can serve complete dishes)
- Always feed children before you go to a meal
- Feed your kids before your own meal, when you’ll be busy hosting
- Send along snacks, water and a sandwich with kids to shul
Cut out the cranky:
- Kids are not supposed to be involved in all the adult festivities! If your kid is going to bed too late and acting up the next morning… your kid is not old enough to be up that late.
- I allow for one late night (you were invited out, it’s a Rosh Hashana seder, one night of Simchas Beis festivities, etc.). Every other night, the kids’ sleep is a priority.
- If you will all be miserable if the kids are, then do a favor to your future self: have real simchas yom tov and ditch the night activities and do bedtime instead.
- If you choose to skip naps, then you have to give kids more grace and be more patient when they inevitably break down.
- You can bring along a blanket, pacifier etc so at least they can have down time or rest time.
Watch your mindset! You can either keep kids up late and deal with tiredness tomorrow… or you can put them to bed and miss out on some action. Pick one but then don’t complain!
Deal with boredom:
- Swap toys with a friend in advance so you have new ones
- Put away a favorite toy now, before Shabbos, and take it out again on Rosh Hashana
- It’s Yom Tov – leave the house! Go the park, make a playdate, go for a walk.
- Let them help! They can set the table or help with salads. Pro tip: either choose a veggie that doesn’t matter, like cutting lettuce, or let them make something for the kid’s table.
Struggle #3: (Not) Feeling Spiritual
Do you feel this way, too?
- Not having time to daven makes it feel blah and frustrating
- I feel so out of it. There’s too much on my mind that I can’t tap into the energy for the month
- Being resentful instead of feeling spiritual
- Not being able to go to shul or pray properly at home because of kids
- I can’t connect to the time or even have a brain cell left to think about teshuva
Embrace the season you’re in.
Try on these new perspectives:
- You’re not going to sit through shul… and that’s okay for the season you’re in now
- We have different seasons in life. Someone has to watch the kids in shul, someone has to sit in that quiet shul, and someone has to raise the babies that grow up to be the kids!
- The mitzvah of Rosh Hashana day is to crown Hashem as king. After all, “there is no nation without a king!” Your avodah now is to raise the nation that will crown the king
- There are different people in the nation who serve different roles. Not everyone will be at the front row of the coronation… and not everyone will sit all day in shul.
Practical tips for praying:
- You prioritize what’s important – you can make time to wake early and daven in the morning
- Your kids can see you holding a siddur even if you aren’t doing the whole davening
- Arrange a babysitter or playdate to give you some time to go to shul or daven
- Have your child join the kids’ program so you can daven (let them know what’s happening, where you’ll be and what they can do if they hate it)
- Discuss expectations with your husband about when you each get your “off” time
And, once more… you can either have radical acceptance (at least I said Modeh Ani today!) or you can set firm boundaries (spouse, I want you to help me make time to say Tehillim). You can’t live in the place of resentment that lies in between.
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