July 23, 2024
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Tips for a Peaceful Home on Yom Tov

A number of years ago, a parent of teenagers and adult children once told a group at a Shabbos table that she was going to suggest that famed children’s book writers Stan and Jan Berenstain (now sadly, gone) write a new book called the Berenstain Bears and Too Much Yom Tov.

While an ideal Pesach might present an image of a perfectly arranged Yom Tov—a table set beautifully, with children sitting quietly with their parents in pristine new clothing—this might not be exactly the case the next day, after the kids have been up half the night and had their schedule turned upside down. Plus, their favorite Cheerios has been replaced with something strange.

Yom Tov, and Pesach in particular, with its late Seder nights and additional, often unfamiliar dietary choices, can present lots of opportunities for children to get frustrated and act out.

Also, with so much technology in our homes these days, the absence of iPads, iPhones, and other i-technologies might be felt more strongly in many children’s lives. Younger children might also not understand why these items are being denied them for such a long time during Yom Tov.

“Parents today face a new set of challenges that were not an issue for parents whose kids are now older,” said Jodi Senter, a social worker at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey in River Edge, and a mother of five. Senter explained that instead of having everyone dread the distance from their electronic devices, Yom Tov gives an opportunity for family members to connect and engage in conversation without the distractions. “The nature of a Yom Tov such as Pesach is that most of the preparation must be done beforehand, which really opens up the time for families to interact,” Senter said. Board games, family games, or even the park if the weather allows, are all family friendly alternatives.

Even though Yom Tov brings the opportunity for families to enjoy extended time together, parents and children both face challenges with that same family time. No one wants to mar the simcha of Yom Tov with a family feud. Adina Lederer, a Certified Parent and Family Coach, and mother of four, offers suggestions to keep all family members feeling happy, comfortable, and overall positive about the long Yom Tov days.

1. Set Expectations. As extended family visits, roles in the house change, so let kids know the answers to questions they may have before they have to ask them. Try running through a list of questions, such as: Who is coming? When? Are guests coming from out-of-town and staying over? Will we have guests? Are we going out?

2. Make children a part of the preparation. This will involve them and allow them to be a part of other aspects of the Yom Tov, in addition to spreading the job out over additional helpers.

3. Manage time. Before the chag, let the children know if there will be time to play, and if so, will it be at a park or at home? If it is at home, show them the area that has been designated for play time. Also, let them know at what point they can expect to have extended play time.

4. Know your child. Some children need space or time alone. For these children, anticipate their need for space and arrange to give them what they need. Even though it may require extra preparation and maneuvering, this will help them cope with the changes in routine.

Both Senter and Lederer stressed the importance of enjoying Yom Tov and allowing the family to enjoy the chag as well. “Don’t think of the holiday as a burden,” advised Senter. “It should be something everyone looks forward to, even though the preparation can be tough.”

With foresight and planning, the Berenstain Bears Yom Tov edition may just remain a work of fiction. Chag Kasher V’Sameach.

By Jenny Gans

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