Pesach is always a hectic time of year - whether you’re going away or staying home, making all meals or “just” kashering to be able to eat breakfast in your kitchen, pre-Pesach is always a time of upheaval.
And, when you add a newborn into the mix - whether one that is definitely going to be around, or one that may or may not make his arrival before leil haseder, things can become even more complicated - your own recovery (or super-large state if you’re pre-birth), on top of your newborn’s needs, in addition to the unpredictability of it all can make quite a mess when you add them to the mish-mosh that pre-Pesach inevitably is.
So how can you make this time less stressful and overwhelming for yourself and your family?
(And a note: these are great tools for any overwhelming time, whether you’re prenatal, postpartum, or neither!)
In A Nutshell
The key, in a nutshell, is to get clear on these three things:
Needs and limitations
The first one is the one that is most often overlooked: your own needs and limitations. Be honest with yourself about what you’re actually capable of, what you wish you were capable of, and what you’d be capable of if you weren’t pregnant/postpartum.
When we respect our needs and limitations, we’re able to do our best with the situation at hand - even if that’s not what we would have technically liked to do in an “ideal” situation.
It means recognizing that, yes, you are human, not the fictional SuperBalabusta whose house is sparkling despite her having given birth two weeks ago (and - spoiler: SuperBalabusta might have a sparkling house, but her body is definitely going to let her know that it’s not ready for that kind of action!)
Take care of yourself so that you’ll be able to make it to Pesach -- and also be a human being on Pesach and after Pesach.
Musts vs. Wants
What are the musts for Pesach? Well, I’d venture to guess that the only musts are:
Does that just about sum it up?
Fancy and pat’chke foods are definitely not in the “must” category, even if they’re something that your family has eaten every single year.
And, it goes without being said (but of course I’ll say it anyway) that spring cleaning is definitely not a “must”, either.
This is not, of course, to say that you cannot have or do something that isn’t a must; it’s simply to bring those “musts” to the top of your consciousness, so that you’re able to eliminate any “wants” that impinge on your ability to meet your own needs or respect your own limitations (see above).
Getting rid of “wants” can take quite a bit of brutal honesty - and some brutality in shoo-ing away that inner nagger - as well as some open mindedness.
Just because that’s the way “you’ve always done things” does not mean that that’s the right thing for you to be doing right now. Remember that every single situation is different, and every single year creates a new reality for you and your family - you’re in a different place, your kids are different ages, etc. Expecting yourself to be able to do something simply because you have in the past is not only unreasonable, it’s also unfair to yourself and your family.
In an ideal world…
Oh goodness, I could be here all day talking about what things would be like in an ideal world -- but I won’t. Because, well, we’re not in an ideal world.
It’s so so so easy to get stuck in the way things ‘could be’ or ‘should be’ or ‘would have been’. It’s comfortable to live in Could Be Land; it feels secure, protective, peaceful. And truth is -- if we were truly there, and Could Be would be Is, then it probably would be all of those wonderful things.
But, it’s not.
Once you know your limitations, you know what your needs are, and which wants you can reasonably fit in to the time, energy and physical kochos you actually have (or can hire), that’s when it’s time to gently extricate yourself from all those Coulds, Woulds and Shoulds, and create the space for yourself to Just Be.
To recognize that you wish things could be a certain way, and acknowledge that wish. If you feel discomfort (upset, sadness, resentfulness) about the fact that you’re not there, allow yourself to feel that, and then, when you’re ready, allow that feeling to pass.
Create the space for yourself to Just Be within the situation that you’re in right now. To accept it. To be okay with it. To even enjoy it.
Find those things that went “right” that make you happy.
Or take it a step deeper and find a positive side to the things that you wish would have turned out differently.
Or a step even deeper and simply be okay or happy about the food, cleaning, etc. that didn’t go as you may have liked.
Recognize that this work is deep work, and may require some time and energy for you to be able to reach it. Give yourself that time to write, think or talk it out to yourself.
And I’ve got some great tips for you, whether you’re pregnant or postpartum (or even if you’re neither!). Click HERE to download it.