I think it can be so easy this time of year to make it so hard. As we prepare for a holiday that commemorates our redemption from slavery, we become enslaved to the very tasks that are necessary (and some that are not) to prepare for this holy experience. And in that, sometimes, we lose sight of the joy and the beauty that is our freedom--an exodus that not only our ancestors experienced, but that we experience again and again. This holiday is such a special one for our children. They are invited to our Seder tables and encouraged to ask questions. They are held up not only as leaders of our families on these nights, but as leaders of the Jewish nation. It can be hard to shift our task-driven focus to include the very little hands that will lead us, with G-d's help, to Jerusalem!
And so I find myself taking a breath and regaining that ever important mindset to approach this holiday b'simcha--with joy--and to include my tiny helpers in that preparation as well. Sometimes that means we all need a break to splash in some ooey gooey green paint!
Remember the incredible shades and hues of green paint S concocted in this process art activity? Everything goes to good use here, and I set out a variety of green paints for both boys to use in a tray with a paintbrush (should they choose to use it), some plastic frogs and a few other items for inspiration and creation. Each brother had a piece of light blue card stock and we used aleph bet stickers to spell out "tzfardeah," the plague of frogs in Hebrew. At that point, I let S have at it and gave Y a little help to navigate his painty frog to the paper (and not his mouth). S favored making his frogs hop along the paper and Y liked to drag them across and then use his own "flippers" instead of the frogs'! Both boys had a great time with this activity and it was a
With so much to be done and so little time, these final days approaching the holiday can be a little tricky. Every family has their own style and routine that works for them this time of year and here are a few little tips that work for us:
Utilize Your Helpers: S in particular is quite excited and eager to help Mommy and Tatty with anything and everything that needs to be done. These are opportunities to naturally involve kids in household tasks rather than trying to come up with ways to "entertain them" while you try to plow through on your own. Both boys got into cleaning our upstairs to get it ready for Pesach! Rags, squirt bottles, our "toy" cleaning supplies and real ones all got put to use as we worked together.
S was especially excited to hang up a door hanger he made at school and a few we made last year at home that designated the spaces we had cleaned as ready for Pesach!
|This was from last year--check out that tiny|
newborn Y in the background!
Both boys love playing in the the kitchen set, though, and this is a great way to bring some learning into the mix as you prepare. We sort out the toy "chametz" and set up a soapy water sensory bin for a Toy Wash station to prepare any toys that will stay in the area for playing over Pesach.
Bring Them to the Table: Once the holiday finally starts, there is a brief sigh of relief until it's time for the Seder. This time of year, Sederim start late and it can be hard on the children (and the adults) to manage energy levels well past bedtime. In our house, it has worked best in these scenarios to include the children as much as possible at the actual seder and then to have a special "kinderlach seder" (kids' seder) on the second day that is geared toward the shorter set of folks in our house. We go at our own pace, make it playful and fun and really invite those thought provoking questions and observations. On most other nights, we don't allow books and toys at the table, but on this night, you might just see some 10 Makos Finger Puppets, sensory bottles, haggadahs made at home and at school and a variety of child-crafted Pesach props.
I printed off a couple of sets of these adorable finger puppets. One I printed onto card stock and prepared as directed and the other I laminated and applied velcro dots so they could be used with a pair of gloves. Many families enjoy using a version of Bingo or a printable game board to keep track of the parts of the seder as they occur. This year I hope to also set out a small world scene of the Jewish people walking through the Nile in the middle of our table to spark some creative play and discussion during our kids' seder. If you're looking for some more inspiration, check out my previous Pesach posts from years past...
My final tip (to myself) is to breathe and slow down. If a task is urgent, I tend to it--maybe even pop in a fun video for the kids (I still love Bubbie's Boarding House!). If a task is not urgent, it can wait. (Maybe I need a break to watch Bubbie's Boarding House, too!) I wish all who are celebrating a Chag Kasher v'Sameach and through Pesach and all year round....