Dear Dr. Yael,
Baruch Hashem, my husband and I are finally fully vaccinated against this horrible coronavirus. Last year it was extremely hard for us to be alone without our children and grandchildren. This year we are thrilled to be able to spend Pesach with our complete family. I am so excited to be able to host a full house once again and to make delicious Pesach goodies for all my beautiful eineklach to enjoy. I am a real balabuste; every year (pre-virus!) I spend weeks preparing for Pesach by meticulously cleaning each room and cooking and baking up a storm. My family appreciates my effort, and this is my way of showing them I care.
However, I am not going to lie – making Pesach is getting much harder as I get older. I can feel my body aging even if my mind is not. My back and feet and even my hands ache more often, and it is getting harder for me to stand for so many hours in the kitchen and to schlep Pesach boxes from the attic. I am worried that I will not be able to enjoy my grandchildren or the sedarim like I normally do because I will be too exhausted and in too much pain. Any advice for this tired balabuste?
Dear Tired Balabuste,
First of all, mazel tov on your vaccination. I am so happy that you will be able to see and hug your grandchildren once again and that you will not be spending another Pesach alone. Last year’s socially distanced yomim tovim were so hard on all of us. You are so lucky to be vaccinated and you are so lucky to be able to host your whole family for yontif. I also understand that hosting and getting a house ready for Pesach can take a mental and physical toll. It also definitely does get harder to make Pesach as one gets older. While I understand that you take pride in your position as a true balabuste, please remember that you are not the Korban Pesach – a clean home should not come at the cost of your wellbeing. Here are some ideas of how you can better enjoy your Pesach:
Delegate. If you can afford it, hire cleaning help. If you are on a limited budget, enlist some of your loved ones to come and help you. You are not alone this year for yom tov and you should not be alone for the preparation either. Delegate the schlepping to a strong grandson and ask a teenage granddaughter to organize the pantry. You will be giving your grandchildren the chance to score mitzvah points for kibbud Av v’Em while also teaching them great life skills. Learning to be a better delegator will be life-changing and will give you more free time to enjoy what is the most important thing – your family!
Focus on the positive. Positive thinking has wonderful effects on your mind as well as your body. It lowers stress levels, which in turn affects every part of your being. If there is one positive thing that came out of this year, it is that we have learned to appreciate our real physical interactions with our extended family and friends. Try to focus on this while your family comes to spend Pesach with you. Focus on your love for them and focus on each second you get to play with them and enjoy their company.
Don’t work Erev Pesach. I know – this sounds impossible. There is so much to do before yontif. But try to get all of your work done by Thursday so that on Friday you can RELAX. This will take some planning, but if you give yourself the day off to relax and maybe get a manicure or sit with a book, you will go into the holiday with a lot less stress and a lot more enjoyment.
As for your body aches and pains, I asked my physical therapist, Dr. Zvi Gutman of Gutman Physical Therapy, for tips on how you can feel better this Pesach while you are cooking and cleaning. Here are his suggestions:
Take breaks. Your body can only be pushed so far and it is important to know your limits. Make a batch of cookies or a potato kugel and then take a few moments to sit down and relax before continuing to cook the rest of your Pesach menu. Do not try to push yourself to do too much at once even if in the moment you feel ok. Muscle soreness can often take time to set in and you will not realize how much energy you are exerting until later. Resting between activities is extremely important for muscle recovery. Even a few moments can make all the difference in how you feel at the Seder.
Be careful with your back! Back injuries are the most common injuries we treat patients for during this time of year. Back injuries are often caused by incorrectly lifting heavy boxes of Pesach supplies or by bending to clean cabinets and refrigerators shelves. If you need to bend – remember this: bend at the hips, not with your back. Bend your hips and keep your upper body upright as much as possible, pointing forward. Breathe while lifting and hold heavy items at waist level. This helps avoid putting stress on your joints. Also, always kneel down rather than bend when you are trying to reach low shelves.
Do not aggravate existing injuries. If you have any existing issues, discuss with your doctor or physical therapist to learn which activities to avoid. If you do feel sore for any reason, call a physical therapist to book a medical massage and treatment to help you heal.
If you live in the New York and are feeling pain from your Pesach preparation, feel free to call Dr. Zvi Gutman at 646-481-7854 or email [email protected]. Gutman Physical Therapy has male and female therapists, makes housecalls covered by insurance and accepts Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance.
Hatzlocha with your Pesach preparations and try to get as much help as you can, so that you can enjoy the children and grandchildren without all of the added stress!