Mah nishtanah hazeh mikol haleilos?
Why are the kids kvetching and awake? Why do I feel exhausted? Why is my baby just crying and crying? And what am I supposed to do about it?!
Pesach can be a hard time for all mothers and housewives – whether you’re going away or staying home, making Pesach or eating out, traveling or pulling all-nighters, there’s no avoiding that it’s tough.
So what’s a balabusta to do?
First, check out my post from R”H time that’s got some starter tips HERE.
Then look through the questions below to see which ones answer the questions YOU have – last week I asked the moms of my email list to give me their top Pesach questions, and I’m going to answer as many of them as I can here.
Introduction: Change is scary
The first, and most important thing, to remember is that change is scary – for everyone. You don’t like change, your mother doesn’t like change and your baby doesn’t either. Of course, everyone is somewhere on a spectrum of how well/not well they can tolerate change and how much it affects them, but it tends to be more difficult for babies and young children because they:
- Have no idea what’s coming
- Have no choice in the matter
- Can’t articulate what’s bothering them
and that’s going to make this a whole lot scarier than it has to be.
But you can counteract all of that with consistency. By you keeping to the rules, keeping as much as you absolutely can the same (of course, it’s not going to be everything, but at least do as much as you can), it’ll help make the transition a whole lot easier.
All right? So now, with that behind us, on to the questions:
We are going to be going to [insert name of place that’s not your own home] for Pesach. What should I do?
This is a HUGE question and the answer would encompass FAR more than what this blog post can offer – so I’ve put together a guide for you specifically to answer the “going away” question.
How am I supposed to keep to our schedules and routines when my [fill in title of friend or family member here] want to [fill in activity here] with my baby and kids?
This is probably THE toughest thing about visiting family – knowledge of children’s sleep needs is, unfortunately very uncommon, and I’ve had more than one client who’s told me that “they think I’m crazy!”
And that’s okay.
Because here’s what I want you to remember: You are the mother. And that means that what you say goes. Period.
I know, I know easier said than done. It’s something that may take a little bit of practice and honing (especially if you’re not super assertive), so try it at home in the mirror. Talk to your husband about it beforehand so you know you’ll have his support. Talk to your mother/mother-in-law about it beforehand.
Remember that they don’t want you to lose it. Really. They want you to enjoy Yom Tov, too. Let them know how much of a difference this will make to you.
Here are some more tips:
Be confident. If you’re unsure of what you’re doing, your kids AND your family members are going to feel it – and that will only make it harder for you.
Be non-confrontational. If naptime or bedtime is coming up, and Tante Babtche is holding baby Chani, instead of telling Tante Babtche that Chani needs to go to bed soon, say in a sweet baby voice, “Okay, Chani. It’s almost time for you to go to bed. Finish playing nicely with Tante Babtche for 5 more minutes and then mommy’s going to take you to your cribby!” It gives Tante Babtche a heads-up without sounding rude or uncomfortable.
Get sleep! I know, bedikah and Leil Seder are not so conducive to getting a full night of sleep, but you’ll feel so much better about everything if you feel well rested. Corral your husband or a sibling into kid watching duty so you can get some much-needed shut-eye.
Remember that you’re not doing this because you’re a horrible mother and a wicked daughter – you’re keeping to schedules and routines because that’s what you and your children need! A calm, happy baby for 1.5 hours (if that’s your baby’s awake time limit) is more pleasant than a kvetchy baby for 3 hours!
When we’re at my parents’ for Yom Tov, I find that nights are fine, but naps are so hard! Why, and what can I do about it?
The why is probably three-fold: change (see above), travel (see guide link above) and family (see question above). Ok four-fold – and because naps are ALWAYS harder.
We’re hardwired to need to sleep at night and be up during the day. Of course, your baby can’t go the full day without napping, so that’s definitely a must, but you may find that it’s just a wee bit harder because biologically, we don’t sleep during the day. I often find that naps take a little bit more work than nighttime sleep does once a child has developed his circadian cycle.
In regard to the second part of your question, I cover a lot of tips and ideas in my going away for Shabbos/Yom Tov guide (above), but, as always, the main thing is going to be consistency. You can expect that there will be protest (I don’t like sleeping in new places either), and that’s okay.
Make sure that you set up for success by keeping to your awake time limits, bringing lovies, keeping naptime routines the same, making the room dark and introducing them to their new sleeping space beforehand. And then, if they need a little bit more comfort or reassurance while they’re falling asleep, don’t hesitate to give it to them while still keeping to the same boundaries as you do at home.
We’re traveling from Eretz Yisroel/England to the US/Canada for Pesach – what should I do about the time difference?
I’ve found that the best way to deal with a time change is just to dive into it. Once you get to the new place, move your baby’s schedule to local time.
You can cue the production sleepy hormones (like melatonin) by dimming the lights about an hour before bed, and don’t allow your child to call it morning before 7:00 (presuming you’re on a 7-7 schedule). If your child is sleeping at 7, wake him no later than 7:30, and take him outside into the sunlight to cue his brain that it’s morning.
It’s not going to be magical (there will always be an adjustment period while her little body gets back on track), but by sticking with it and staying consistent, you’ll get there!
What other questions do you have?