Since the advent of the digital era, we are defining community differently. Not necessarily by our neighborhoods or synagogues, but by interests that we share with others.
Those of us who are parents find community in other parents, at our schools and various clubs and sports. We have carpools, sports schedules and grocery lists in common. That which ties us together most strongly seems to be time constraints and stress. Almost universally we are in a constant state of overload.
Why do we accept fatigue as a barometer of good parenting?
Katherine Wintsch, author and motivational speaker, reminds us that “It’s not empowering to think you can always do more. It’s actually exhausting.”
It is important to remember that keeping our sanity is worth much more than a check mark on the to-do list. Comparing ourselves to other parents is not new, but it is so much easier to do in this social media prolific world. Nonetheless, Sheila Dalva-Hornback, Director of Aronoff Preschool at the Merage Jewish Community Center reminds us that “we need to look beneath the surface, beyond optical delusions, and as a community, give ourselves and friends permission and reminders to stop the parent guilt—to stop the relentless pursuit of more.” Like the airline analogy of giving yourself oxygen first, Sheila tells us to take the time to read a book, try a new recipe, add a yoga class, push yourself for another few reps. Take the time to spend with friends.
Self-care is an essential part of parenting today. With the hustle, the pressures and expectations we all need a time out. Lucky for us there seems to be a national holiday scheduled every Friday where we get to practice just that: #shabbat.
Shabbat is a break in your normal routine. There are no rules that suggest Shabbat must begin with a mom-made feast of roast chicken and kugel. Sheila further reminds us, “For Shabbat, there are no rules. It is about spending time together about creating traditions and rituals that are your own. That create a sense of family and tradition wrapped in Jewish values.”
She tells a story of a friend reporting that it was “life-changing” when she realized it was okay to eat dinner—eat Shabbat dinner—on paper plates, “eating on paper plates became a Shabbat tradition for us. It’s definitely not Bubbe’s brisket, but it honors us as busy parents and takes off that burden that big dinners place on you. And the kids love it.”
Another parent suggested that running around on Friday to buy a fresh loaf of challah was beyond her capacity. She and her family started celebrating Shabbat and saying the hamotzi with treats—brownies and yummy cookies she kept available.
Shabbat is not a burden. It is an opportunity to wrap yourselves in family and in community. Move away from dinners, make hikes or family date nights your Shabbat ritual. Make Shabbat more, with less work.
MORE SHABBAT: LESS WORK
• Make pick-up dinners a tradition
• Meet with friends at a park
• Enjoy Shabbat beach picnics—on Friday evening or
• Gather for a potluck Shabbat