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Archive for the ‘Self-care for Moms’ Category

A few Thursdays ago, I fled from my house in the midst of a frustrated, stressed-out, “The house is a mess and I’m the worst mom and wife in world” self-flagellation fest. I walked down the hill towards the Geula, and I discovered this magnet, which brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. I’ve been loving it every since. Enjoy, JewishMOM!

made by M and M, Mussar and Magnets, Kiryat Sefer, Tel. 0504111683

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In this wonderful video from Naaleh.com, a mother asks how she can raise her daughter so that she doesn’t feel like a second-class citizen. I loved Rebbetzin Heller’s response, made me laugh and moved me too. Rebbetzin Heller is THE BEST!
Forward video to 27:36 to watch

Vodpod videos no longer available.


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Photo courtesy of Flickr.com user mud ant.photos

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Dear Chana Jenny, I’d like to ask your opinion. I can’t think of anyone else who will maybe understand what I mean, so I hope you have time to answer

I was always easygoing and popular in school and opinionated and artistic. I loved seminary and afterwards taught Torah to 10th grade girls for one year (while in college for accounting). Then, thank G-d, I got married 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve been getting used to being married, running a house, cooking, CLEANING (I’m still horrible at this one), working, having and raising our 4 children, etc.

Recently I’ve been feeling, though, like I want to “shine” and I can’t because I’m bogged down with life…do you understand what I mean by that? I feel like I can grow, learn, even discuss, but that I’m not shining.

I don’t mean being the center of attention, I never was that, but I mean feeling like I’m shining from inside.

I try to find myself outlets but they don’t seem to help. Maybe they are in the wrong direction.

Can you understand what I mean? Do you have any advice?

Thanks so much, Devori from Jerusalem
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Dear Devori,

Thanks for your question. And yes, I do know what you mean. I think that what you are feeling is extremely common among mothers. Without noticing, our lives get taken over by the demands of home, children, and work, and we end up feeling dried up, like we aren’t passionate about anything anymore.

I think that the best advice I ever got on this issue came from my teacher Rabbi Aryeh Nivin (click here to sign up for a free 4-week trial of Rabbi Nivin’s life-altering Personal Development Chaburas).

Rabbi Nivin explained that every Jew has a Universal Life’s Purpose to keep the Torah and perform the mitzvot. But in addition, the Arizal taught that every single person has a yeud or a Divinely-mandated PERSONAL purpose in life that is completely unique to him or her. This means that, according to the Slonimer Rebbe, you can keep all the Torah and the Mitzvot, but if you haven’t fulfilled your life’s purpose, then you are missing one of the major reasons why G-d created you in the first place. Knowing your life’s purpose provides tremendous joy and happiness. It can illuminate life’s dark and confused moments and provide much-needed clarity.

In other words, identifying your life’s purpose can enable you to shine.

So how do you figure out what your unique life’s purpose is? Rabbi Nivin provided two tools:

1. Write a list of the ten most powerfully pleasurable experiences of your life. See if there are any patterns in what has brought your pleasure. When doing this exercise, avoid universally pleasurable experiences such as your wedding day or having a new baby. Look for experiences that might be connected to your life purpose.

2. Imagine that you will be given $500,000 a week to spend however your wish. You cannot save the money, and all of your personal needs and the needs of your family have already been taken care of. What would you spend the money on? Your choice of where you would spend the money is usually a good indication of what your life purpose is.

Once you figure out your unique life’s purpose, I think that it would be very helpful for you to incorporate your purpose into your regular weekly schedule. G-d willing, through identifying and fulfilling your unique purpose, you will be able to feel once again like you are shining.

With blessings, Chana Jenny

To learn more about the tools for determining your life’s purpose, watch this video:

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About a tough week, and what I’m doing to stop feeling like a martyr. 11 Minutes.
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Photo courtesy of Flickr.com User bpp198

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“Mothers who work cannot wait until their children go to bed. Mothers who stay home cannot wait until their children wake up.”

I heard this quotation yesterday from an exceptionally dedicated working mother of three small children with a guilt-ridden conscience.

I saw that this quotation, which my friend had heard from another mother, was whittling away at her heart slowly but surely like a stream through the rock of the Grand Canyon. I even sensed that my friend was dreaming that she would also one day be able to quit her job in order to become one of those SAHMs who eagerly sits by her child’s bedside, just waiting for that glorious moment when her child will open his eyes and whisper, “Eema, did you finally remember to wash my blue sweater?”

I don’t tend to vigorously disagree during conversations. I nod. I say consensus building woman-y things like “You’re right!” and “I totally hear what you mean!”

But when my friend mentioned this quotation, I pounced on her like a cat on a lizard (I live in Jerusalem, and that’s what cats pounce on here:)).

I assured her, far too emphatically, that I have been a SAHM for the past 12 years, and I personally cannot wait for my children to go to bed so that I can have a few hours of quiet and solitude in order to wash some dishes and answer some waiting Emails and listen to a class and generally nurse my frazzled soul from the hectic, non-stop day that just transpired.

And, far too few hours later, if I wake up and discover that my children are not yet awake (I cannot remember the last time this actually happened, but let’s just say for argument’s sake) then I would be beyond thrilled to have some minutes of quiet and solitude to get done whatever I wanted without a 5-year-old tugging on my nightgown or a wired 3-year-old calling out “Look, Eema!” as he somersaulted onto my sleeping baby.

This untrue, guilt-inducing quote about the supposed differences between working mothers and SAHMs reminded me of two things.

It reminded me of Emerson’s quotation:

“There was never a child so lovely that his mother wasn’t glad to get him to sleep.”

And it reminded me of just how frequently we good moms convince ourselves that we are bad moms.

And that, in my opinion, is a problem. A big problem.
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Photo courtesy of Flickr.com user Pammy LZ


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If you read A Chanukah Wave you know that Chanukah is a real struggle for me. But over the years, I’ve taken steps to make it a whole lot better than it once was…
When I was a kid, I looked forward to vacations from school more than anything else in the world.

But for many years as a mom, there were few things I dreaded more.

The school-less weeks of Succot, Pesach, Chanukah, and summer vacation used to be so terribly awful for me since I absolutely need a few hours every day on my own. I need time to think my own thoughts and write my own stuff and answer your emails and get my endorphins flowing on the treadmill.

But for years, inspired by guilt, I would push myself to be like all those model mothers spending every moment of these vacations with their children at the museum and the zoo and the Jerusalem Forest.

And then two or three years ago, after too many miserable vacations, I did some soul-searching and I realized that I as a person must have at least 3 kid-less hours a day to function. At the very least, I need silent, focused time to write, to exercise, to rest.

And I decided that I was going to do everything necessary to get those hours for myself.

Since then, every vacation I have recruited visiting grandparents, babysitters, my older children, etc. in order to make sure I get my three hours a day—no matter what.

The truth is that I still do feel sort of guilty that I’m not joining those model moms with the camcorders by the penguin exhibit, but the guilt grows less and less as the years pass because I know that if I have those few hours for me, then I am a good mom. If not, I am not.

And in the end, I also see that our new way of doing vacations is a win-win situation for my whole family. While I still struggle a lot with vacations, if I have time to myself I am a lot happier. And my kids are a lot happier that they get to do the fun activities they love, and still return home to a somewhat happy and relaxed mother.

It’s like my parenting teacher Dina Friedman taught us last week. If you are feeling resentful of giving to others, then that means that you are not been giving enough to yourself.

Or like Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi taught us a few years back. Every mother needs a drawer of her life that is hermetically sealed just for herself. If she doesn’t have that locked drawer, then she won’t have anything to give to anybody else.

My locked drawer is my computer/exercise/rest time. Another mother’s drawer might be time to work on her art, or on her career, or to spend time with her friends.

What is your hermetically sealed drawer? Leave a comment to share what you need to give to yourself in order to be the best mom you can be…
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