Parenting Tip for the Chag – Pessach with Simcha
Rina Berkus – Clinical Supervisor
The bracha we extend to one another at this time of the year is Chag Kasher V’sameach. In the same way that we are commanded to make our homes kasher for the chag, the Torah commands us to be m’sameach as well. Is it really possible?
Many households begin a massive spring cleaning the day after Purim. In the process, drawers and cabinets are emptied so they can be cleaned of chametz and the contents sorted. The initial result is chaos! This adds to the general level of tension in the air. Children are out of sorts in a house that is topsy-turvy. Parents, who are trying to accomplish a monumental task are short tempered and a negative circle of interaction is soon established. The anxiety created by working under a deadline is contagious. While we may succeed in fulfilling the kasher portion of the bracha, where is the simcha?
It helps to remind ourselves that we became a proud nation upon being redeemed from slavery in Egypt. If so, do we want to trade one form of slavery for another? Have we become so enslaved to our cleaning rituals that they take precedence over our relationships with our spouse and our children? Shouldn’t being free make us want to sing dance? We can do that with a little planning.
Start general cleaning after Purim and involve the children as much as possible. Even young children can help sort through toys, books and clothing. Put on music while you work and stop occasionally to dance with a child. Children who are included in the process generally are more cooperative and happier. For those tasks that require your complete concentration, like cleaning the stove, make plans for the children to be elsewhere with a grandparent, older sibling or babysitter. It will be a good investment. Being in tune with each child’s abilities and planning accordingly will reduce frustration and outbursts.
One should come to the Seder with a feeling of accomplishment and achdut. We sit down together as a family in the same way as we left Egypt. We remind ourselves that to be truly free, we must also be free of those activities we have taken on to our detriment, i.e. activities that keep us from interacting optimally. May the spirit of Pessach 5776 bring all of us the strength we need to free ourselves to connect with our families and to truly feel the simcha of the season. Chag Kasher V’sameach.