TGIF: Shabbat Tips for Busy Parents
By Jodi Jarvis
Director of Families with Young Children and Interfaith Engagement
Combined Jewish Philanthropies
Looking for some easy ways to make Shabbat happen in your busy home? Here are a few suggestions to help get your weekend off to a special start.
Prettify your Shabbat table
- Treat yourself and your family to fresh-cut flowers from a local farm stand, or invest in a flowering potted plant that will last for more than a week.
- Take a field trip to a craft store with your young child and pick out several artificial flowers (they’ve come a long way!); use wire-cutter pliers to separate bunches into individual flowers before arranging them in vases that your children can decorate.
- Each week, have your children make the Shabbat flower arrangement (using either the fresh or faux flowers).
Incorporate tzedakah into your weekly ritual
- Put a tzedakah (charity) box on your Shabbat table for your family to see.
- Encourage everyone to gather change throughout the week to deposit into the box on Shabbat.
- Once a month, sort and count your change; to make tzedakah a tangible experience for your young children, have them buy basic necessities for people in need (food, clothing, personal hygiene products, dental care products, etc.) with the money they have collected.
- Take your children to a local organization periodically to donate the goods they have purchased.
Light up the night
- Use tea lights in votives as a safe and easy candle option for young children (they burn out quickly).
- For child-friendly lighting options, use extra-long fireplace matches or a long, tapered candle to light the Shabbat candles.
- Use the candle-lighting opportunity to remind young children of important fire-safety rules.
Remember the juice or wine
- Any grape beverage will do—white, red, purple, plain, sparkling or fermented!
- Use a special cup or goblet to signify Shabbat.
Include the God-given carb
- Try making your own challah (here’s an easy recipe to try), or find challah locally at most grocery and specialty stores.
- For an easy child-friendly idea, buy soft breadstick dough in the dairy section of your grocery store and try braiding and baking it with your child.
Don’t feel pressured to cook a fancy meal
- You don’t have to make a chicken dinner with all the fixings to celebrate Shabbat; any food will do, including take-out (even pizza)!
Make bedtime extra special