A question from a reader:
"What does the average day look like in an Orthodox Jewish home?"
I think the average day in an Orthodox Jewish home looks more or less, well, normal. *smile* - I mean that apart from prayers and blessings that are recited in the morning and before eating, there is little to tell you that you are in an Orthodox Jewish home. We do have a mezuzah in every room, but that's something more of an outward appearance than something with an influence on my daily routine.
I suppose the thing that influences my daily work most strongly is having a kosher kitchen. We have two sinks and two separate sets of pots, pans, dishes, cutlery etc, for meat and dairy dishes that we use throughout the year - and we'll need to get two more sets for next Pesach. Also, after my husband eats meat, he waits 6 hours before eating dairy (I'm vegetarian so this is irrelevant to me).
The day when you can truly notice that we are Orthodox Jews is Shabbat, which lasts from sunset on Friday until about an hour after that time on Saturday. During that time, no cooking or cleaning or, indeed, any job that isn't connected with serving food or setting the table, is done. And of course, no driving, or lighting fire, or turning lights on or off, or even writing or brushing my hair! We can take advantage of electric appliances that were turned on before Shabbat (for example, lights or air conditioner), but cannot for example change the temperature program during Shabbat.
This means that all our laundry and cleaning must be done, and all food prepared before Shabbat. The shopping is usually done on Thursday night. I normally try to split the work in two and do part of it on Thursday (for example cleaning, baking, ironing fresh shirts for my husband, laundry) and part of it on Friday morning (cooking, more cleaning). Our food is kept warm on a hot plate throughout Shabbat.
Right before Shabbat I light two candles (one for me, one for my husband - I used to light just one as a single woman), and we go to synagogue and later have a nice dinner together. Meals on Shabbat are fancier than normal, and since everything is so still and quiet, we have all the time in the world to just sit and enjoy our time together. Definitely my favorite day of the week, so refreshing and relaxing. I realize that someone who isn't an Orthodox Jew doesn't often spend an entire day without car, cell phone, or computer. Some think it's "boring", but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!
(Sometimes people ask us, "so what do you actually do during Shabbat?" - answer: we read; we pray; we walk; we eat in a slow, leisurely way; it's something that looks extraordinary in the pace of modern world, but I'm so thankful it's an integral part of Jewish life!)
I hope this satisfies your curiosity a bit. :-) If you have any more questions, or want me to elaborate on something, you are welcome to ask!
... It's around 10 AM here, and my husband just went off to work not long ago (a bit late today), so I have the time to have a leisurely cup of coffee myself. Normally my morning routine begins earlier, but I don't mind being a little late today since I know my husband will return later as well, which means I can easily accomplish everything necessary, even with quite a bit of rest.
I don't think I will have the chance to post tomorrow, so I wish everyone a wonderful weekend and a blessed and peaceful Shabbat.
PS: I can't access the comment form, but to the lady who asked whether it's possible to care for small children during Shabbat: of course! As you maybe know Orthodox Jews tend to have big families and it's not like we take a day off from caring about small children. :-) It's entirely permitted to feed or clothe a baby, change a diaper etc, during Shabbat. The idea is not doing any creative work - as a sign of recognition that our Creator rested on the day of Shabbat.