One the things I was dreading the most about returning to work after 10 months on mat leave (thank you Canada!), was the prospect of rushed, half-baked Friday nights and Shabbat meals. The system I described in my original Simple Shabbat prep list is not very compatible with working full-time and a two+ hour commute (round trip, but still), so I’ve had to tweak it. I can only assume it will keep evolving, but I think this is a good starting point for working parents :
The basic principles are :
- – Simplify your recipes and prepare things that can easily be turned into delicious cold sandwiches, or salads the next day. If all else fails, embrace the French meal “sur le pouce” (baguette, cheese or cold cuts, salad stuff and a glass of wine)
- – Buy your challah. I used to get the frozen ones and take them out to rise on Thursday evening, to bake them on Friday. Now Adam just picks one up from Bread and Sons Bakery close to his work. As far as I know, it’s not strictly Kosher in the commonly accepted sense of the term, but neither are we, and it is just too delicious to pass up. They bake a fresh batch every Friday, and they go fast!
- – Try to build in some flexibility. When I came back from my first mat leave, I negotiated with my employer to work from home on Fridays. I prepared my case and presented it in a way that took into account my superiors’ concerns, and lucky me, they were receptive. If, unlike translation, your work is not very VPN friendly, it may be worth negotiating a reduction in the number of hours you work. (More on that later).
My new routine:
- Set out candles
- Set dinner table
Friday during translation down times
- Change linens (bed sheets, bath towels and hand towels in the kitchen, change rolls of toilet paper, refill soap dispensers)
- Prepare simple meal or, if work is too busy, whip up a frozen pizza/salad dinner.
- Program coffee machine for the morning.
- Tidy up kitchen, so that clean up time from dinner is minimal – this does not always happen…
- Turn off computer, cell phone and appliances
- Put on different music
- Bathe children, shower
- Tzedakah, candles, blessings, songs, stories, and usually a few jokes from Sam.
Friday after the meal
- Set up breakfast table, just because.