Working Parent Ritual for Beginning and Ending the Work Day

light skinned brown haired mother holding small child and multiple bags and a diaper bag outdoors giving the child a kiss
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Inspired by the havdalah ritual that separates Shabbat from the work week, this ritual offers working parents a moment of pause between our different roles in life. We often rush from work to parenting without giving ourselves the space we need to distinguish between these roles and allow ourselves to focus fully on each one. This ritual can be done to start the work week or day, or to end the work day before starting our parenting duties (e.g., dropping or picking up kids from day care/school, etc.). Give yourself the gift of dedicating a few moments to appreciate yourself and let go of anything that might prevent you from fully being present. This ritual can be done in just five minutes.
Ritual Item
In the traditional havdalah ritual we smell sweet spices (besamim) to bring the energy of Shabbat into our work week. In this ritual we invite you to choose a scented object that revitalizes you (e.g., a satchel of herbs, hand cream, hot or cold drink, scented candle, etc.).
Ritual Steps
At the beginning of a work day
Either at home, the office, or the car, pause and take a deep breath.
At the end of the work day
Close your electronics, pause and take a deep breath.
  1. Take out your scented object of choosing and inhale deeply and exhale.
  2. Close your eyes and reflect on something that went well for you in your work or parenting (e.g., in the morning: packed a nice lunch, successfully de-escalated a conflict; or at the end of a work day: accomplished a difficult task, led a successful meeting, etc.). Don’t dwell on what didn’t go right!
  3. Take a few breaths and allow yourself space to be present, letting go of your responsibilities as worker/parent, just being.
  4. Then take a breath and offer gratitude for your own abilities, for your support systems (teachers, partners, family, friends, colleagues, etc.), and for something larger (the divine, the earth, etc.).
    You might recite:
    In this moment,
    I lay down my burdens,
    thankful for all that helps me carry them each day.
    Now I am more ready to lift up
    and be lifted up by what comes next. 
  5. Conclude by inhaling your scented object again (if it’s a cup of coffee or tea, take a sip; if it’s hand cream, put it on and smell it, etc.) and exhaling deeply before you move on to the next part of your day.
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