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May 3 2013

Friday Night: 30 Ways to Make Yourself Happier This Shabbat

By at 1:57 pm

woman reading book taking a napLet’s face it, folks. April sucked this year.

In case you’ve forgotten just how colossally terrible it was, let me refresh your memory. My town got bombed, and then my family and I were put on lockdown during a manhunt for the bombing suspects. Someone sent poison to a judge, a senator, and the President of the United States. The Senate failed to pass gun reform legislation, a small town in Texas exploded, there was a massive earthquake in China, and a factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 300 people. Syria may have chemical weapons.

It’s enough already.

The good news is that April is over, and May has sprung here in New England with an explosion of sunshine, flowers, and wildlife that has left me breathless once again.

And there is Shabbat. Not to get all 8th grade on you, but Shabbat rules. Seriously. It’s a time when you have a great excuse reason to turn off all the crap–in whatever form it comes at you–and spend time with your friends, your family, your rabbi, your cat, or whoever makes you happy. And when you’re happier, everyone else around you will be happier, too. All the way to Kevin Bacon. (It’s totally possible. His wife is Jewish.)

So, in honor of this glorious month of May, I’ve made a list of 30 things you can do this Shabbat to make yourself happier:

1. Turn off the TV. (Seriously. It’s enough with the news already. You can DVR everything else.)

2. Light candles on Friday night. (Even if you don’t know how to say the blessings, light them anyway. It’s fun and they look cool and the kids will dig it.)

3. Read a book to your kids. (Except the one you’ve read 87 times in the past 48 hours. Just tell them it’s a rule that you have to read different books on Shabbat.)

4. Go for a walk outside. (Unless you live in Colorado, in which case you’re probably sick of walking in the snow. We feel your pain. Sorry about that.)

5. Pet a cat. Or a dog. (It will definitely make you feel better. Until the 4-year-old freaks out because the cat is sitting in her favorite spot on the couch. Not that that ever happens to us every single day.)

6. Ignore the dishes and laundry. They’ll still be there tomorrow.

7. Hang out with friends.

8. Teach your kids to play Frisbee.

9. Read a book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside about being Jewish, like Exodus by Leon Uris or perhaps something from this list.

10. Play a game of cards. (If you’re kids aren’t old enough to bet their allowance on a game of poker–which they shouldn’t be doing on Shabbat anyway (AHEM)–Go Fish, Ruckus, or Uno are good options.)

11. Play Dominos. (If you don’t know how, it’s high time you learned. All the cool kids are doing it. Here are some instructions.)

12. Teach your kids to ride a bike. Or, in my kid’s case, a tricycle. (Again, sorry, Colorado.)

13. Put down your smartphone.

14. Don’t pick it back up.

15. Potty train your kids. (HA. Totally kidding. Don’t do that. What a crappy [get it?] way to end the week.)

16. Bake a challah. (My husband recommends this recipe from King Arthur Flour. I prefer this one.)

17. Make an extra Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Challah and send it to me. (Not kidding here, people.)

18. Color a picture. (I would have scoffed at this one before I had kids, but I have to tell you, a few minutes spent with a coloring book and some markers is surprisingly cathartic. Also, my kids are totally impressed at how good I am at staying in the lines, and sometimes I need the ego boost.)

19. Cook a delicious meal and eat it with people you enjoy. (I would say more about this, but I don’t cook, and I don’t think I need to explain to you how to eat.)

20. Meditate. (No, really. I’m serious. Check out Mindful.org before Shabbat and get some ideas. Then kick the kids out of the house and take a few minutes to just sit and breathe. It’s AWESOME.)

21. Read your book club book, or even better, Kveller’s book club book: The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore.

22. Build a fort with your kids in the living room. Put them in it. Tell them they can’t come out because you need to…

23. Take a nap. (In case you’ve forgotten, naps are the BEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE.)

24. Catch up with someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. (Preferably someone you know. And like.)

25. Tell the kids about your family history.

26. Feel really proud of yourself for actually doing something recommended in one of the parenting books.

27. Put money in the tzedakah box and talk with your children about where it should go. (Officially you should do this before Shabbat starts, but do it whenever you can.)

28. Take a stab at Havdalah–it’s a beautiful way to say goodbye to Shabbat and start a new week.

29. Make time for gratitude, either by journaling, talking with your family about what you are grateful for, or just holding it in your thoughts.

30. Hug your family and tell them how much you love them. And then do it again.

Shabbat Shalom, everyone.

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