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Secrets to Smoother Holidays - How to Survive and Thrive through the Chaggim

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Is “Back To School” Really Easier?

You Made It to September! Well done! I don't know about you, but I always count down the last few days of August, believing that, come September, I'm sure to finally find the time for all "The Things".

But then all the "new" of September gets to me:

  • new schedules

  • new after-school activities

  • new teachers

  • new classes

  • new schools

  • new ideas for school food -

All this newness sucks away the extra energy I thought I'd have.

Don't you sometimes feel like September is even more challenging than summer? And looming holidays don't help the situation at all. Ah, the High Holidays! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy days off work and school as much as the next mom, but this holiday season really is one of our ultimate organization challenges:

  • around 10 festive meals

  • about 4 sets of festive clothes for everyone

  • Shul seats to book

  • a fast to get through

  • a Sukkah to build and decorate

  • and another week's worth of vacation activities to plan!

Simply Really is the Best

When things get complicated, I've learned that I need to look for places where I can simplify.

When pressed for time and energy, which things will mean more? Designing a graphic-designer-level family new year card to send out to all family and friends; or donating money for food packages for those less fortunate? Here’s an example of a New Year greeting message I received from a friend: A donation has been made to the Feed A Family project in your honor. Wishing you and yours a Shana Tova & Gmar Hatima Tova. Much love … (BTW, click on the link if you want to do the same- this is a great Modiin-based charity). Can you simplify sukkah decorating by avoiding shopping in crowded discount stores for pretty decorations, and instead sit with your kids uninterrupted for 30 minutes to staple paper chains together?

In the spirit of simplifying, here are my top 10 tips for how to not only survive the חגים – Jewish Holiday season - but to enjoy, relax, bond with family, focus on the real meaning behind each holiday and create great family memories.

Alana’s 10 Commandments for Surviving The Holidays

  1. Balance: Alternate big meals with smaller, lighter ones.

  2. Smart Shopping: If you need to go clothes shopping with older kids, sit in a coffee shop while they do the initial surveying.

  3. Easy Meal Planning: Save your menu plans on file so next year you don't have to start from scratch.

  4. Avoid Overwhelm Triggers: Try online grocery shopping if, like me, crowded supermarkets totally throw you into the depths of overwhelm. For me, the slight price increase is worth it if I can forgo travel time and all that waiting in line. I can think more clearly, am less likely to forget something or to succumb to impulse buys. Just make sure to check delivery times before you start your order, to make sure your food will arrive in time for you to cook it.

  5. Good Choices: Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Make choices that are truly important to you and your family. Do you really need 8 homemade, fancy round-shaped Rosh Hashana challot or can you buy some challah rolls for your lighter meals? Do you need to bake from scratch both honey cake and honey cookies? Do you really need 3 kinds of dessert on your fourth festive meal in a row? What can you buy instead of make and leave the home-made to regular shabbat meals?

  6. Downtime: ADHDers tend to have very busy minds. While many are extroverts who thrive on social interaction, others find social interaction tiring. Make sure you intersperse your socializing time with downtime for yourself. How do you regroup after busy social interaction? Read a book? Go for a walk? Take a nap?

  7. Prepare & Support ADHD Kids: ADHD moms are likely to have at least some ADHD kids. My colleague, ADHD coach Aron Lazarus, has written a great blog post about helping your ADHD child through the holidays.

  8. Outsource Outings: Planning can be challenging for ADHD minds. You don't have to do it all alone. Give each kid a day of chol hamoed sukkot to plan. Check out my ADHD mom's Survival Guide Clips to Chol Hamoed: Tip #1 , Tip #2 , Tip #3

  9. Shrink New Year’s Resolutions: Making a change often means introducing consistency and routine. The ADHD brain is averse to these. Let go of all-or-nothing thinking and make small, doable changes: a 10 minute walk around the block a few times a week, one day a week of exercise...Think progress not perfection. And just jump back on the wagon if you fall off, because its repetition that creates habits more than doing anything perfectly.

  10. Perfect is the Enemy of Done: In fact, in general, let go of perfection. It’s not only impossible to reach perfect, it’s draining and not worth the effort.

Wishing you all a wonderful new year of running your life so it doesn’t run you!

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