Last week’s parsha of Teruma focused on the construction of the Mishkan and its utensils.
This week, parshat Tetzaveh continues with the Mishkan, providing instructions for the Kohanim who will serve within it. We read about the clothes of the Kohanim, along with the preparations they need to undergo to sanctify themselves.
Amongst all of these details we find mention of the korban tamid and the ner tamid. The korban tamid is a twice-daily offering brought in the Mishkan and the ner tamid is a lamp that was continually lit; both of these highlight for us the trait of consistency.
Consistency is an important quality not just in the Mishkan, but also in parenting. We see this both in terms of parents being consistent when enforcing rules, e.g. “we always sit down when we are eating,” as well as for our children who need to learn to be consistent with elements of their schedule, such as brushing their teeth.
Avital Schreiber-Levy, otherwise known as ‘The Parenting Junkie’, offers ways to use consistency as a parenting tool. She suggests that introducing routine and predictability is a great way to minimise power struggles. Instead of having daily battles about how much screen time kids are allowed or when bedtime takes place, it becomes obvious, it is a known rule that everyone can follow. One method she outlines is using time to construct a routine. Every day at a certain time a certain activity takes place, such as eating lunch at 12pm and bedtime at 7pm. Another option is to create a flow, a sequence of events, with one act leading naturally onto the next, so after lunch we have quiet time or following dinner is bath time.
Transitions are classically challenging moments. Every day we face key points of friction as we move from sleeping to waking, getting out of the door, returning home, leaving screen time and moving to bath or bed. However, once you can predict what happens next – because it happens every single day – you can prepare these transitions to go smoothly.
One way in which she suggests doing this, is by using physical prompts to aid us with the next behavior. The real advantage of this is that it enables “manipulating the environment rather than the child.”
If we know in advance that following bath time our kids need to brush their teeth, then instead of waiting and nagging them to brush their teeth already, we could just set up a prepared toothbrush next to the bath or in the bathroom ready for them to use. We could have their towels at a height where they can reach them alone instead of needing to wait for us to help them out of the bath. Clothes could also be prepared and laid out the night before, or left at a height where children can access them alone. Breakfast is another easy prompt, the night before we can leave out bowls, spoons and cereal and enable a smoother transition.
This week, I would love to say let us be inspired by the korban tamid and the ner tamid to bring some consistency into our homes and routines, but with Purim almost here and our kids off school and gan, schedules are all over the place and there is little predictability to be found!
So let’s embrace the lack of routine and then aim for consistency afterwards.