How I Prepare for Shabbat With 2 Toddlers and an Infant
According to a poll on Instagram, a lot of my readers are interested in hearing a little bit more about my homemaking/mothering lifestyle. So here it goes:
I generally expect my home to be clean by the time Shabbat arrives. When things are clean it’s easier for me to relax, wind down, and focus on what matters about the day: resting.
I have three little ones, ages three years old and down. Since they are all very young, they still need quite a bit of attention, which I love to give. That said, it does make preparation day a little bit tricky.
These are some things I do to help prepare my home for Shabbat with three small children clinging to my ankles.
1. Enlist Their Help
I don’t know if this is true for all children, but for mine, they absolutely love it when I give them a damp rag and tell them to wipe down the cupboards.
While they are cleaning, I use the moment to explain to them why we are doing this: to prepare a clean, relaxing atmosphere for resting on Shabbat.
When I am cleaning the bathroom or cleaning the kitchen I simply hand them a rag and tell them to start wiping things down.
When I am doing things that require more skill, like folding laundry, I will ask each one of them to bring me a piece of clothing so I can fold it. If they get bored with that, I’ll give them a piece of laundry that they can put away themselves; one that doesn’t necessarily need to be folded: like a baby bib or a wash rag.
My toddlers also enjoy helping me load the dryer.
I just find simple thing for them to do while I work. They feel included and apart of the process. That might change as they get older, but for now, they love it!
2. Listen to Music
If I need a few minutes alone to get something done, music has proven to be a great way to keep my kids occupied. They’ll dance, jump around, and sing. It keeps them entertained for quite awhile. The dancing puts them in a great mood. They usually end up playing together in their room.
For some children’s music for Hebrew kids click here .
3. Ditch the Screen Time
TV used to seem useful for keeping my kids occupied and quiet, but I found that it also contributed to irritatibility and fussiness. When I started cutting out screen time, my toddlers became much happier and played together much better. It took a few days of crankiness, but afterwards they were so cheerful! They created their own games and let their imaginations completely take over.
4. Working Outside
In the spring and summer, when it’s nice outside, taking work out of doors can bring a fresh perspective on chores. My children love playing outside and I can keep an eye on them while getting the work done. I’ve done laundry outside on a large picnic blanket. Sweeping or beating rugs, cleaning glass doors and windows! Being outside almost always keeps my children entertained with exploring.
Babywearing is 100% essential to my life as a Hebrew mom. I can wear my baby (or toddler) while I sweep, do dishes, clean my bathroom. The possibilities are endless! Soon my baby girl will be old enough to wear on my back and that will make it even more convenient!
I even wear my almost-4-year-old from time to time when he is upset.
Babywearing is a pretty ancient practice and it’s extremely useful! It allows you to work and cuddle at the same time.
6. Helping in the Kitchen
My children love to be in the kitchen. Washing potatoes is their favorite thing to help with. They also love dumping flour from the cup into the bowl. They like to help with mixing ingredients. Yes, sometimes it can get messy, but that’s kind of just how family life goes now. You just have to roll with it and expect the mess. To me, it’s important to instill a sense of ownership of this faith in our children. Preparing our Shabbat meal together is one way I try to do that.
Life with young children is not easy and getting things done certainly requires more time and a little bit more creativity and patience. But that is our calling as Hebrew Mothers and Homemakers. We are providers, we are nurturers, and we come from a long line of tough women.