In the Jewish calendar, we stand at the beginning of five weeks of craziness. It starts this week with preparation for Purim – a festival of costumes, a festive meal, and gift baskets for neighbors and friends. We lay out costumes for the children (and some of the adults :), we bake and cook and prepare special cookies, and we use our creativity and ingenuity to make themed gift baskets for everyone to enjoy.
And then, on the day of, we get all dressed up, go to synagogue, walk or drive around the community handing out our baskets, and then sit down in the middle of all this to the festive meal we prepared in between all the madness. :)
And then, when Purim is over, well, then all Jewish women clean their houses as if their mother-in-law was coming for the first time. We need to rid our houses of any food that might be under the couch, in the toy bin, etc. And because us women lack other activities (hah!) we go overboard and just do a thorough Spring cleaning, scrubbing every surface from the ceiling to the floor until everything shines. All in three and a half weeks, along with shopping for the special Passover food, turning our kitchen inside out, and then cooking for 7 days of Passover.
So us Jewish women, well, we are starting a potentially Very Stressful time period.
If you are not Jewish, liken it to the Christmas/New Year Holidays, where you are cleaning, shopping, cooking, and entertaining in a seemingly endless stream of festivities for three weeks.
Or think of what the most stressful time of year is for you, and apply the following there.
How do we deal with these potentially stressful periods? How do we get through it without getting run down, stressed out, and overwhelmed? How do we avoid yelling at our kids, or running around with a frown plastered on our faces?
Well, here we go:
First and foremost – live in the present. If you are stressing about what didn’t get done yesterday, what has to get done tomorrow and for the next five days, you will be stressed out, likely to the point of inefficiency in the present moment. Be in the right now. Do what is in front of you right now. Pay attention to the activity you are engaged in right now. Give your fullest to this moment, and all will get done, with you smiling and breathing along the way.
Balance – Striving for balance is a constant occupation. When stressful conditions arise, strive for balance. Do not overload yourself with responsibility. Do not undervalue or deprioritize your time with your kids, your spouse, or having that cup of coffee. Work for two hours, and then take your Me time. Balance work and play. Balance cleaning and fun. Balance baking with coffee time. BALANCE. Do the things that make you happy interspersed with what needs to get done, and you will be amazed by how efficient you can be.
Don’t neglect your kids. It is so easy to fall into this one. There is so much to be done, so we spend less quality time with our kids. Isn’t that a shame, especially around e thholidays? MAKE THE TIME. Take the ten minutes to read a book with your toddler. Take a break and throw a ball around with your kid. And if this is really challenging for you, try this idea: Spend time with your kids doing some of the things on your list. It is amazing how cooperative kids can be if you pose things to them creatively. Engender a feeling of cooperation getting everything ready for the holidays. Find an activity you can do together and put on fun music and provide yummy snacks or incentive (“we go to the park after we get this project done”, or “ice cream for everyone after we fold all this laundry and put it away!”). You get long lasting positive results for fun, rewarded, family time feel good behavior. Boost their confidence and esteem with plenty of compliments, plug in comments all the time about how their working and cooperating are making you so happy and “look how much we are getting done”! They will feel so proud.
Gratitude. It’s the holidays. Really people, if there is anything we want to be getting crazy about, let it be holidays. There is enough intrinsically negative stuff we can get wrapped up in in this world. Let’s enjoy the good times. Enjoy the family time. Enjoy the cleaning and the baking and the errands and even the craziness. Especially the craziness. :) Because it is all for something good and joyous and fun. Appreciate family. Appreciate the kids’ exuberance. Be open to all the giving and love and ebullience. Be happy. Be open. Be in gratitude.
Breath. Well, when all else fails, there is this. Breathing. It centers you, brings you back to the present, brings you into your body, and fills your body with oxygen. So your muscles can relax. So you can think clearly. It is an automatic “calm down” button. USE IT. Slow down. Breath deep. Then go utilize one of the above tools to help you get through it stress-free (or, at least, with decreased stress…).
Now go get ‘em! You can do this! You can get through this potentially high stress zone with your sanity intact, and even ENJOY it all!
(And just think: I am doing all of this with jet lag, while hosting my folks, and - since I was sick prior to my trip - no advanced preparation! If I can breath, so can you!)
We got this!
Let’s do this thing!
Happy Purim, or just Happy March,
With love and tranquility,
Think of this picture over the next few weeks when panic starts to creep in :)
Beit Roga Event:
Ramat Beit Shemesh/Beit Shemesh: Beit Roga is coming to you! Tuesday, March 10, at the matnas in RBS, we are starting the Calmer Living for Moms series. In the first talk, come hear why, as women, we put on the SuperWoman Cape, and more importantly, how to take it off! Details here beitroga.com or here facebook.com/beitroga. Start to live a calmer life, now!