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“Are you buying those potatoes for tomorrow’s lunch or for tomorrow’s dinner?” my friend Leah innocently inquired last night at the vegetable stand in the market.

I hesitated for a nanosecond, and then chose to swallow my pride and confess: “I’m actually buying these for the soup that we will be eating for the whole week…”

Leah’s eyes narrowed, her head turned ever-so-slightly, and her jaw dropped exactly as though she had just sighted a rare species that she had read about, but never actually encountered before. An albino turtle. A 3-humped camel. A sub-standard balabusta.

Her kids, Leah went on to tell me, expect home-made meals for lunch and then something entirely different for dinner every single day. If she ever serves leftovers, she explained, she has to whip up a whole new dish based on the leftovers so that her kids don’t throw a fit that she is serving the same meal twice. She was in shock to hear that my children gobble down leftovers the whole week. In fact, my kids are so used to this reality that they don’t even REALIZE that what they are eating would be considered leftovers by their better-fed classmates.

I decided not to tell Leah what my family USED to eat before I started making our gigantic weekly pot of something accompanied by a weekly monster-quantity of a grain of some sort. Until about a year ago, the Weisberg weekly menu consisted of Monday: french fries, Tuesday:scrambled eggs, Wednesday: oatmeal, Thursday: spaghetti.* Which explains why our current two huge pot solution is a major step up for the Weisbergs and their domestically-challenged Eema.

Of course, during this conversation with Leah I felt badly about myself, as I usually do on those rare occasions when I actually open up about my domestic dyslexia with other moms, especially baalabusta moms. You know the type. The kind of moms who not only bake challah for Shabbat, but who actually look forward to baking challah for Shabbat. The kind of moms who actually fold laundry a la The Gap instead of just balling it up and stuffing it into a child’s drawer. The kind of moms, like Leah, who are frying onions and garlic with thyme and taking fresh-baked spelt rolls out of the oven when you stop by their house at 1 PM.

What was funny about our conversation was that when I told Leah how much I admire Balabusta moms, like her, she didn’t really get why. And, in fact, what surprised me was that she actually seemed to admire me, and how I was handling the whole hyper-simplified cooking-for-the-family aspect of my JewishMOM life…

And then Leah said something really obvious and wise that I have been thinking about ever since. She said, “I am a very goal-focused person. My goal is children who will grow up to be good, curious, passionate, amazing, Torah-loving Jews. The rest of the stuff, the food, the spotless house, the externals, it truly does not matter so much. Every mom needs to find an arrangement that works for her and that works for her kids. That’s all. There are SO many different ways to be a good mom.”

After she stated her JewishMOM manifesto, it seemed as clear as a crisp, cloudless, starry Jerusalem night. A mother’s ultimate, central goal needs to be raising her children as best she can. The elaborate menu plans, the blinding bathtub faucet, and the homemade cookies vs. Entenmanns are the rainbow sprinkles on top of the icecream cone.

These external niceties are a great added touch, but not the point—-AT ALL.

Some mothers are more domestically inclined than others, and some are less domestically inclined. And that’s perfectly OK and not something for me to get all worked up and feeling inferior about every time the subject comes up. In fact, after this conversation with Leah, this point seems so incredibly obvious that I’m surprised that a short 18 hours ago I was foolish enough as to have feared otherwise.

*In self defense, I want to explain that this seemingly unhealthy menu plan was prompted by an appointment with a dietician who told me that in order to ensure that my kids have a balanced diet, they should eat three food groups at every meal. So even at my lowest culinary points, I would always make sure to do that. For example, I would serve oatmeal with a fruit, so that that meal contained three food groups: grain, dairy, and fruit. Lame, but not unhealthy.

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Me In Timephoto © 2009 Vincent van der Pas | more info (via: Wylio)
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Over the past few days I have been feeling breathless. I think this borderline hyperventilation might be due to my perpetual motion machine life, and the fact that it’s finally starting to get to me.

And then I read the results of a recent survey of 3000 working British moms, which breaks down the average day of a working mom as follows:

(reprinted from the Motherlode Blog):
Get up 6:42am
Get ready (shower, dress, coffee) 55 minutes
Get children ready 47 minutes
Commute to work 52 minutes
Working day 7 hours
Pick children up 33 minutes
Makes / eat dinner 46 minutes
Children’s play and bedtime 1 hour 9 minutes
Household chores 1 hour 13 minutes
Work from home 1 hour 12 minutes
Go to bed 10:45pm
Spare time = 1 hour 30 minutes a day

What is it that parents miss most? Here’s what they told pollsters:

1. Spend more time with the children – 48 per cent
2. Read books – 37 per cent
3. Do more exercise – 34 per cent
4. Put feet up in front of the TV – 32 per cent
5. A lie in – 31 per cent
6. Go to the pub – 30 per cent
7. Meet friends – 25 per cent
8. Take a walk in the park with their partner – 22 per cent
9. Go to the cinema – 19 per cent

My first thought after reading this was that I really don’t get how these moms do it. I work only three hours a day, not seven, and I am the one borderline hyperventilating as I type these words.

What do you think of the results of this survey? Do you think the 90 minutes spare time a day sounds realistic? What does your daily schedule look like and what do you miss most from you BC (Before Children) days? I’ll be interested to hear your comments on this…

Don’t forget to read author Liza Mundy’s wonderful response to this poll entitled “The Strands of Time”…
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Timephoto © 2010 Robbert van der Steeg | more info (via: Wylio)
The following is a fantastic response by writer Liza Mundy to British researchers who claim that the average working mom has 90 minutes of spare time a day. I could so relate to Mundy’s description of the non-stop life of a mom of young children, though I personally take refuge not at the pool but at the gym (which, among its abundant positive qualities, also has free babysitting)… Every time I leave my kids at the gym babysitter and pass through that beloved turnstile I feel like Atlas putting down the Heavens for the 1st time since, well…the last time I was at the gym…Enjoy! (Thanks to my buddy Chaya Houpt for sending me this article!)

The Strands of Time by Liza Mundy

Over at Motherlode, Lisa Belkin highlights a British survey which found that “working parents have 90 minutes” of spare time, each day, to themselves. The study for some reason was done by a supermarket chain–perhaps wanting to know how much time busy customers have for food-shopping and cooking. Or maybe the store just wanted to perform a public service. Maybe some parent in management was curious. Who knows?

Anyway, 90 minutes sounds generous to me, unless you count things like feeding the cats or taking out the recycling as “spare” time. But the piece got me thinking about how the time and place of parental free time changes as kids’ needs evolve. When my children were very little, and being at home meant for me (or my husband) that some small body was constantly needing to be lifted or put down or herded or rescued or fed or bathed or clothed or ferried, the only place I remember experiencing free time was in the shower of the public indoor swimming pool near our house. I would slip out to do some laps, then luxuriate in that crummy collective shower, where there was no privacy and the water was never quite warm enough, but on the other hand, there was nobody who needed anything and I could just stand there and exist, amongst strangers and running water, without any limbs being tugged. Showers in general are one place I think parents often escape for a small window of free time, though even there, if you are at home, you are never safe. I know one woman who–on a particularly excruciating day when her 5-year-old son was following her around the house singing some kindergarten song at the top of his voice while she tried to get her house ready for a dinner party–attempted to lock herself in the bathroom for a quick shower and some peace and quiet. Her son picked the lock with a hairpin, flung open the door, and announced “Great news! I am here!”

In fact, so little free time does one have, when the kids are little…
Click here to read the rest of The Strands of Time by Liza Mundy

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This was the first video I ever made a little over three years ago, and I think it’s still my absolute favorite. It’s so cute to see my big-boy Yoel as such a little baby, almost the same age as my little Tsofia Batsion is now- wearing that same fluffy blue coat, falling asleep in the same plastic crib, playing with that same brand of baby wipes.  Ahhhh! Memories…

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The dreams of life, the future of our beings, the beauty of life, hope will be fulfilled! Enjoy my friends!:)photo © 2010 UggBoy UggGirl | more info (via: Wylio)
A few months ago, my teacher Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi advised us to bless our kids before they leave for school in the morning. I’ve been blessing my kids every weekday morning ever since, and I’ve been loving it. And my kids have too. I think the Weisberg kidlings really crave that extra concentrated dose of Eema love and blessing before they rush out the door at 7:21 AM for the big wide school-ish world.

So every morning since school started, I have put my hand on the head of each of my children, and recited the required verses from the Priestly Blessing:

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

 

Which means:
“May God bless you and guard you.
May God make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May God lift up His face onto you, and grant you peace.”

And every morning, after that, I think of an issue that that particular child is struggling with (or some sort of struggle that I’m having with that child) and I give him or her a personalized blessing related to it. Here are some recent examples:
Please bless this boy that he should stop coming into my bed in the middle of the night…
Please bless this girl that she should start loving her teacher, and that her teacher will start loving her…
Please bless this girl that she should stop fighting with her sister…
Please bless this girl that her nose should FINALLY stop running…

But this morning, I had a fantastic JewishMOM lightning bolt of an idea that I really wanted to share with you…

This morning, for each of my children I said the Priestly blessing and then added, “Please bless this child that he/she should grow up to be a great light for the Jewish people!”

What a wonderful feeling it was to give that blessing.

At the moment I said it, it plucked me up by the scruff of my neck out of the sisterly bickering and the perpetually runny noses and the middle-of-the-night bargaining with my son to go back to his own bed. And it placed me, instead, twenty, thirty, forty years into the future, looking straight at the kind of grownups my kids will, G-d willing, grow up to be. Sincere, idealistic, passionate and caring people, parents, and Jews.

That switch of blessing made me look into my children’s faces as I blessed them, suddenly free of the traces of frustration that tinge my motherly life all too often. And replaced, instead, by respect and anticipation for the adults they will become. Please God.

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Baby Sleepingphoto © 2008 Sean McGee | more info (via: Wylio)
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I just had to share these incredible techniques to teach babies and toddlers to fall asleep on their own from Dina Friedman’s Chanoch leNaar Parenting Class.

I tried this technique with my 7 month old, Tsofia, and within 3 days she went from beginning 100% dependent on me to fall asleep by nursing, to falling asleep peacefully 100% on her own. This makes my life A LOT easier. And it also means that Tsofia sleeps better (she used to wake up and cry until I nursed her back to sleep, and now she just falls back to sleep on her own) and also now she can fall asleep in her carriage when I’m out, instead of crying and being miserable until I get home and nurse her to sleep.

This technique is called “Modified Controlled Comforting.” Dina Friedman estimates that the vast majority of children will learn how to fall asleep on their own within a week of starting these techniques:

For Babies ages 0-6 months
-Get your baby used to a 1)Sleep 2)Feed 3)Play 4)Sleep cycle.
-If your baby is breastfeeding, before trying this technique, consult with your doctor to make sure that your baby is not waking up and crying out of hunger.
-When baby starts getting tired, wrap him or her up in a blanket (but make sure you don’t wrap baby overly tightly or overly warmly)
-Put the baby in crib and leave the room for 30 seconds
-If baby is crying, come back into the room to comfort her. Pat the baby’s back rhythmically with your right and then left hand. You can also try putting the baby on his or side, and rocking the baby back and forth gently between your two hands. Do this until the baby calms down
-Leave room for 5 minutes
-Comfort baby for 5 minutes using the techniques above
-Leave room for 5 minutes
-Comfort baby for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 6 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 7 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 8 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
Continue this until you are out of the room for 10 minutes, and continue the 10 minutes out of the room, 5 minutes comforting cycle until the baby is asleep.

For babies ages 6-12 months

-Comfort for 5 minutes (see the patting technique above)
-Leave room for 2 minutes
-Comfort for 4 minutes
-Leave room for 4 minutes
-Comfort for 3 minutes
-Leave room for 6 minutes
-Comfort for 2 minutes
-Leave room for 8 minutes
-Comfort for 1 minute
-Leave room for 10 minutes
(Continue this 1 minute comforting, 10 minutes out of the room cycle until the baby falls asleep)

For toddlers

-Establish a regular bedtime routine (i.e. brush teeth, pajamas, a story, Shma…)
-Tuck toddler into bed
-If he follows you out of the room, take him firmly by the hand and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door.”
-Leave room for 2 minutes
-If toddler comes out of his room, take him firmly by the hand and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door. You are going to sleep now!”
– If toddler comes out of room yet again, take him firmly by the hand again and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door. You are going to sleep now!”
– If he comes out again, return him to his bed, and close his door behind you.
-Stay out of the room for 6 minutes
-If he is crying, comfort him for 1 minute
-Stay out of the room for 7 minutes
-Comfort him for 1 minute
-Stay out of room for 8 minutes
-Comfort him for 1 minute
Continue this pattern until you are out of the room for 10 minutes— and continue the 10 minute, 1 minute cycle until your toddler is asleep.

Hope this works for all of you tired eemas as well as it worked for me! Make sure to be in touch to update me on how this technique works for you—I will be interested to hear!

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I am already 3 plus months into my EXTRAORDINARY parenting class with BRILLIANT JewishMOM-mentor Dina Friedman. The Weisberg home has been running a whole lot smoother since I started this course, making my JewishMOM life tremendously easier. I wanted to share with you moms 4 amazing parenting tools from Dina…

1. Non-Sticker Chart #1, The Gibor (Hero) Chart

Dina Friedman's Famous "High-Level Choice" Chart

This is an incredibly powerful chart that has been totally transforming my kids. Here’s how it works:
1. Choose something your child is struggling with (i.e., sharing, cleaning up after herself, being patient, getting along with others, speaking respectfully to parents)
2. This is a “Non-Sticker Chart,” which means that unlike old-fashioned sticker charts, you do NOT point the chart out to your kids and say “Whoever cleans up their toys 10 afternoons in a row will receive a new doll.” Instead, you just post this chart, and don’t say a thing about it.
3. When your child makes a high-level choice, with a lot of enthusiasm and fanfare you put a star on his chart. You tell him “You could have left your toys on the ground, but you made a high level choice instead! You cleaned up! You are are a Gibor, a hero! (Dina recommends that you feel your child’s arm as though you are feeling a muscle, and tell him you can feel how he is getting so much stronger, like a real hero).
4. Do not encourage your child by saying “I’ll give you a star if you clean up…” You just wait until after she has done the good thing, and give the star with fanfare.
5. When the child completes the chart, just erase the stars and start again. There are no prizes (remember, it’s a NON-sticker chart.) I made my own kind of prize though for my younger kids. Whoever finishes the chart gets to wear a conference pin that says “I am a Hero” to nursery school. They are SO PROUD to wear that pin!

I didn’t think this Gibor Chart would work with my kids, since they are so used to sticker charts with treats or presents afterwards. But my kids are incredibly motivated and excited about getting a star on the Gibor Chart. In general, using this Gibor chart has been phenomenally effective in helping my kids overcome their various personal challenges. In fact, last week I was looking at the list of issues each child was working on during the first round of the Gibor chart, and in all cases the issue simply did not exist anymore! The star and encouragement has been a very surprisingly effective motivator! Truly incredible.

2. The Bedtime Job Non-Sticker Chart

Bedtime Jobs Chart


Dina recommends that children should have a chart including everything they need to do before they go to bed.

Above is the chart I set up for my older girls to remind them of the one thing they were forgetting to do before they go to bed–their 10-minute nightly chore. This chart has meant that I no longer need to be the nightly-chore policewoman. I cannot tell you how much I love not having to nag!

3. Bedtime Fun
Another bedtime tool I LOVE from Dina is what she calls Bedtime Fun. What you do is you stagger bedtimes so that every younger child gets 10 minutes quality time ON HIS OR HER OWN with mommy. For bedtime fun, every child chooses what he or she wants to do with Eema. My 3-year-old son, for example, likes me to watch him doing somersaults on the bed for 10 minutes. My 5-year-old daughter likes reading, especially Amelia Bedelia. I love this time since it is so fun, and also because it is guaranteed one-on-one time with my little kids. I’d like to also start doing this with my 8 and 10 year old at one point.
I so love Bedtime Fun, it’s one of the highlights of my day.

4. The Morning Routine Non-Sticker Chart

Moriah's Morning Routine Chart


This is another amazing tool which has really transformed my mornings. This is how it works:
1. Sit down with your child and make a list of everything he/she has to do in the morning
2. Make a chart, and post it in a place your kids can see it.
3. The next morning the kids use the list to get ready. No nagging allowed. Only encouragement (i.e., “Great, you have on your socks!” or “Thank you so much for getting dressed so quickly, that’s a big help so I can get to work on time!”).
4. If the child is ready on time, he or she gets to play with a certain toy or book that you reserve exclusively for mornings.

These morning charts have brought about such a wonderful change in my mornings. I’m not sure how I ever managed otherwise!

Thank you, Dina Friedman!!!!

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