Don’t do it all yourself: even the little ones can be pitching in to prepare for Shabbos.
Getting ready for Shabbos is part of the routine of every single week. So why do our kids seem surprised every time we ask them to do a task before Shabbos??
It’s time to assign specific tasks to each member of the family. And once they “own” that task, it’s theirs and there should be no reason for them to be reminded/nagged/begged/bribed to do it each week. Make sure this is clear from the get-go and within a few weeks, your Shabbos prep will be going much more smoothly.
We polled our social media followers to see if and how their children are helping out for – and on – Shabbos. Divided by age group, this is a great list of suggested tasks you can distribute.
- Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to play to your child’s strengths and interests. If one child hates sweeping but another doesn’t mind, don’t put it in a rotation. Give the broom-hater a different steady task. Maybe that child likes to empty a dishwasher or cut up a salad. If a child gets satisfaction from a job, s/he will be much more likely to get it done without complaining or delaying.
- Another good idea is to provide an incentive. In some houses, once all tasks and showers are complete, a child gets to read the week’s magazine or play computer games. A teenager might even be bribed with the opportunity to nap! Know what motivates your child and use it to your advantage.
- For tasks that are equally doable by several kids, you can try Nomi Nathan’s method that she uses to get her kids to clean the playroom. Just replace her tasks with the ones on your list.
Tasks for children up to 8 years old:
- Cut paper towels/toilet paper
- Spray and wipe glass surfaces
- Set the table
- Put drinks in the fridge
- Prepare washing towels
- Peel eggs
- Peel potatoes
- Empty small trash cans into the big one
- Collect and put away shoes
- Collect and put away books/toys
- Prepare the lights (and put up light covers if used)
- Turn on Shabbos lamps
- Snip green beans
- Distribute tissues to all bathrooms
- Unload groceries and put away
- Prepare the candles
- Arrange couch cushions and throws
- Entertain younger siblings
- Help clear the table
- Pick up trash from the lawn
- Put dips in bowls
- Put away muktzah items like gameboys, chargers, cordless phones
- Water plants
Tasks for ages 9 to 13 (plus tasks above):
- Empty dishwasher
- Wash and/or dry dishes
- Help with cooking or baking
- Serve during meals
- Bathe younger siblings
- Polish silver
- Polish shoes
- Fold and put away laundry
- Fill the urn
- Turn appliances on to Shabbos mode
- Call grandparents and pass the phone around to siblings
- Load the dishwasher
- Prepare tea essence
- Fill pitchers
- Braid challah
- Take out the garbage
- Empty magazine rack
- Turn off phone ringers
Tasks for Teens (plus tasks above):
- Mop floors
- Freshen up bathroom
- Errands like grocery shopping or dry cleaner pickup
- Prepare hot plate/blech
- Mow the lawn
Please share any tips you’ve found successful for your family!