As we've been packing, moving, having the new owners come in to take measurements, inspections, etc. it's seemed like our home has become less and less ours, and more and more just a place to stay.
As I walk through my beautiful living room and into my kitchen I don't feel the warmth of my household- I see the debris of a life half boxed away. Despite the warm onion soup on the stove, despite the clean bibs hanging from the handles, despite the cup of milk drunk by my daughter on her way out the door this morning.
It's in this home, or not home, if you will, that I'm struggling to make a Shabbat worth having. We don't have to many Friday's to spend here in this home, and despite it's lack of homeyness, I'm going to try. So I give to you my tried and true tips for making a home ready for Shabbat.
1. Tidy Tidy Tidy. The best thing about Shabbat is that cleaning is off the table, and if you are anything like me it's barely on the table on a given Tuesday, let alone among the craziness and hecticness of a move. But tidying is much easier. Clean off those surfaces, put away all the laundry, and ensure that all the shoes go back where they need to. Put toys in the kiddos' bedrooms, and then it will feel clean, even if the spilled onion soup is still on the floor.
2. 7 minute Rooms. I realize this is sort of funny, but I have a 7 minute bedroom policy. I walk through the house with my small supply of cleaning (broom, dustpan, windex, general household spray, sponge, and paper towels) and set my timer for 7 minutes. This also includes any tidying for these rooms as well. That way I know I've spent some time in each room making it a little bit nicer. I make the beds, I put take away things that don't belong, and believe me even though it doesn't seem like a lot of time if you really invest in it, it's totally enough.
3. The Shabbat Table. I have some linens and napkins, etc. that we only take out for Shabbat. When everything else feels crazy if the table is set and looks nice then at least the place where you spend the most of your time will feel like a wonderful respite from the week. Regardless of the rest of the house, a nice Shabbat table can set you worlds apart for the evening.
4. Plan some conversation. One of the nice things about Shabbat is that it's away from the drudgery of the everyday. We are so so very stressed in our lives, all of us are. In our family right now the move, the logistics, the new house, all of it are eating away at the fabric of our family. So I like to plan a few conversation starters that might lead us away from the drudgery and into the light. I always start with reading the torah portion for the week. Sometimes I click over to cnn.com to read a few headlines. It's nice to get away from the usual work/chores/daily life conversations.
5. Just enjoy! The best thing we can do on Shabbat is to give ourselves a little rest, peace and be a bit nicer. To ourselves, our husbands, our children, our kitties... Sometimes we put to much pressure on ourselves, and we have to remember that Shabbat is a gift. A gift of time to spend relaxing, enjoying, pausing to reflect on our wonderful life. Even if there are shoes and toys everywhere. Even if you're serving shrimp. Even if the table is covered with sticky fingerprints made of strawberry jelly.