by Micki Lavin-Pell, Marriage and Family Therapist and Relationship Coach
Does a stress free Pesach sound like a bigger miracle than the splitting of the sea? Follow my step by step guide for preparing both mentally and physically for a calm and enjoyable Pesach your whole family will look forward to.
Step 1 Clarify your goals for Pesach on your own. Think about all the areas that need to be organized and divide and conquer. Prioritize what has to be done vs. what would be nice to do, but not fully necessary.
Step 2 Communicate your goals to your spouse and other family members. Once you are clear about your idea of getting ready for Pessach and communicating this to your family members you are ready for action. Be sure that when you introduce ideas and concepts to your family members you are calm and happy so you can convey this in a positive manner.
Step 3 Create space to hear your family’s opinions. Perhaps you have way too high expectations or a family member has a better solution to conconquering a goal. Always validate their feelings either way and make them feel heard.
Step 4 Identify what you can do and what can be outsourced. Some times just a small task like ironing table linens, polishing silver or cleaning out the car can be outsourced to a local teenager for pennies (if your own kids need a little coaxing, a few shekels might just do the trick) ….Fruit pre-cut from the local grocer, store bought cakes rather than home baked. Use your extra time for me time. Pre Pesach Pedicure? A mid afternoon run ? A shopping trip for a seder night ensemble? Taking just one or two items off your list can make for a calmer you.
Step 5 Divide and conquer Identify what each person’s strengths are and play to their strengths. For the brainy kids, have them prepare divrei torah for the seder, the more organized kids, have them sort through the pantry. You know your own kids and spouses. Playing to their strengths will make for a positive and healthy outcome.
Step 6 Deal with differences of minhagim: you and your spouse may emphasize things differently. While many just go according to the husband, for the women with strong connections to their family roots, they may choose to do things the way they grew up. Make time to reflect on what is most important to you and see how you can satisfy as many traditions as possible rather than push your family away. For conflicting traditions perhaps try doing it their way for the first days and your way for the last days. Or alternate this year and next year. Again, validate their feelings and make them feel you are considering their needs.
Step 7 Keep your eye on the prize. So many have expressed over the years they suffer from PPT , Pre-Pesach trauma. Whether it be about cleaning crumbs from every nook and cranny to dreading a long drawn out seder with a screeching hyperactive niece, take a few deep breaths, and focus on achieving calm energy and bringing as much joy to the table as possible.
Stop acting like a wandering jew and start planning your serene seder, who knows, maybe this will become a new family tradition.
And while you are cleaning don’t forget “Dust isn’t chametz and your children are not the korban Pessach!” Take it easy!!!