This is the week of Easter and Passover. Families all over will be celebrating with family and friends. Although it is a meaningful and joyful time of year, it can also be a stressful time, especially for parents and children.
My own children are anticipating the next few days with a mixture of dread and excitement. We attend Holy Week services in the days leading up to Easter. Believe it or not, those services can be tedious and demanding for children, particularly because they are solemn. For parents who celebrate Passover, there are days of preparation and celebration that can bring children to the brink of their patience as well.
But we celebrate our family traditions because they are important to pass along from one generation to the next. Parents are, first and foremost, teachers. And so we ask more of them at this time of year than we ordinarily would.
For Christians, the prize at the end of the race is always Easter. It is a day of celebration, family dinners, egg hunts, and candy candy candy. For our family, Easter Sunday can be just as much, if not more demanding than any other part of the week. It is a full day, to say the least.
My goals during this week are twofold:
1.) To teach my children carefully about why we celebrate the way we do, and
2.) To keep them whole and cared-for in the process.
It can be a tough balance to strike, especially because my children range in age from 3-8. What our 8 year old is ready for, his little sister may not be. So, I start the juggling act.
Here are a few strategies for surviving the week:
Be Selective - Parents and children may not be able to participate in everything this week. Evaluate what your children might be able to handle and do one or two of those activities. If they won't sit through a 2-hour church service, make private time to pray at home. Find ways to honor your family's traditions that might be more age-appropriate.
Talk about expectations - Lay out your plan for the week with your children so they know what to expect. Let them know what relatives might be coming into town or who you may be planning to visit. Tell them in advance what kind of behavior you expect. If they know ahead of time, it will be easier to parent them through it.
Teach Before the Moment - Read children's books about the meaning of Easter or Passover. Find an activity to do each day, from simple crafts to special prayers, that will help your children understand the deeper meaning of your family's celebration. Children learn a lot from repetition, so the sooner you start to talk about what these holidays mean, the more able you will be to answer the questions your children are bound to have. Teaching in advance will make the celebration more meaningful for all of you.
Keep Perspective - Even though you are busy cleaning and making special recipes, decorating your home, and welcoming guests from out of town, your children have needs that will not go away. Do your best, despite everything, to keep that in mind. Taking time to involve them and let them know that they are loved can make all the difference. It can keep both of you from having a 'meltdown' further on down the road.
Watch the Big Three: They are, of course, diet, sleep, and exercise. Keeping your family healthy through the holidays means doing your best to keep some sort of schedule. When you know church services will run late, prepare by taking naps. If you know there will be a candy-fest at Grandma's, prepare by feeding your children nutritious snacks packed with protein, like nuts or cheese. Making time for 30 minutes of vigorous exercise outside in the sunshine can make it easier to ask them to sit still when you need to.
Let Love Guide You: At the holidays or any stressful time, it can be easy to lose sight of the reason you celebrate. At the core of our holiday traditions is Love. It is the reason we gather with family and friends. It is even the reason behind our faith traditions. Focus on that Love and don't lose sight of it. Even when the jello doesn't set. Even when your daughter toilet papers the bathroom 5 minutes before Aunt Gertrude arrives. Even when your nephew makes confetti out of the matzo. Take a deep breath and do your best to react with love and patience.
I know you can do it.
Have a safe and Happy Easter and a Blessed Passover.
- Midwest Mom
Midwest Moms will return after Easter, on Monday, April 13.