Updated: Jun 4, 2019
OK, so Easter, Passover or Spring Break is upon you…and family/friends are almost at your door. Of COURSE you want food perfect, the décor clean, the dining materials spotless…and you’re going to run yourself ragged even if it kills you.
Or at least totally stresses you out.
Just as this was being prepped (the week of March 12, 2018) the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) posted their “2018 Sleep in America Poll.” (Boy are we timely! J) Once again it shows none of us are good sleep strategists; specifically, only “10% of American adults prioritize their sleep over other aspects of daily living….” One of NSF’s experts notes this is “disappointing,” since it’s been confirmed that when folks do get a good night’s sleep, they “see themselves as more effective at getting things done the following day.”
Stressing Before Bedtime
NSF points out three reasons you might not be falling asleep easily:
You’re thinking too much—Oh, you know what we mean. You’re wondering what time the brisket, ham or other main dish has to start cooking. Did you forget any condiments? Did your loved one polish the silver as promised? Should you call your older dear ones and make sure their escort knows when/where to bring them?
(Fill in your own worries here.)
Anyway, this (and more) is making you crazy. Even worse, it may even pull you out of bed to check everything for the third (12th or 42nd) time.
You’ve hurt yourself—Some things you may feel, like straining a shoulder from lifting that great cooking—but heavy—cast iron casserole. But NSF notes that sometimes there are things that you won’t recognize, like a really tense neck and back muscles.
Your heart’s truly hard-working—And pumping the stress hormone, cortisol, and creating other sleep-depriving stressors.
Cutting Down the Hard Work
I’ll be honest: my mom was a glorious festivity provider, but it always cost her, especially as she got older. By the time the event actually rolled around, she was exhausted, her bad knee was killing her, and she couldn't enjoy the fabulous feast she'd spent two days working on.
Sound familiar? Here are some tips I learned just from watching her!
Tip #1: Don't do everything yourself – There comes a time to admit, "Why not? Why SHOULD I do all the work?" Instead, one relative could bring something easy and/or inexpensive to eat; a simple salad, a basic dessert. If they have the dollars, maybe they can cater in some food. Even the grandkids can help. It’s easy to fold and place napkins, even at a young age. (Just don’t cry if they aren’t folded in the perfect pattern!
Tip #2: Don't be afraid to ask for help – Slight variation on the above, since #1 assumes family/friends will volunteer services. But maybe—especially if you’ve said “No thanks. Not needed” for ages—they won’t ask anymore. So you ask them. My Mom learned to let her the sons-in-law pull out the dining table and then lug up the heavy extension boards from the basement and place them.
Tip #3: Don't clean as if the health inspector is coming – I’m not
advocating dust an inch thick and floors that are filthy. But don't get
down to the "white glove" level either. A little dusting and vacuuming,
some damp mopping and you should be fine. Don't worry about turning
the mattresses, pressing the tablecloths and washing the windows!
Tip #4: Don't use this time of year to start experimenting with four new
recipes - Either experiment throughout the year -- and then choose your
favorites for the holidays - or choose ONE item (NOT the main dish) on
a trial basis. (Example: Maybe now's the time to try those dill-roasted
potatoes instead of the mashed you always served.)
Tip #5: Choose one item as the central focus of your party and play it
up – Passover desserts are tricky. If you can practice a week or two before, then it might allow a glorious serving. Same with a major Easter cake. In fact, don’t worry about baking. But it but set it on your gorgeous pedestal standing dessert plate. Or use a regular dish but dress it up with spring flowers, ribbons, other acoutrements.
Tip #6: Consider a dessert buffet for the non-relatives - Have to
entertain for business during the holiday season? Want to have some
friends over? Fine; just don't try and hold several major dinners. Invite these other folks over for "coffee and...". Have each guest bring a special dessert and you supply a variety of interesting coffees and teas. Get nice paper plates and cups - in fact, go for broke and throw in plastic silverware! Don't worry about what Martha Stewart, Miss Manners or
your Aunt Sophie will say.
Try just one and see how much calmer you can be.