6 Ways to Teach Appreciation to Our Kids

thanks-418358_640We are constantly trying to raise our children to become thankful little human beings. We remind them of their “P”s and “Q”s and to be grateful for their bounty. How many times (today) have you told your little ones “You get what you get and you say ‘thank you!'”? And perhaps just a tiny little part of you wants to be shown gratitude for the endless efforts you’re putting into fulfilling their every need.

How do we raise our children to be thankful? Model appreciation.

1. Catch Them in the Act

Noticing those moments of growth in our children is essential. The continual reminders you’ve given them have come down to this. It’s the bottom of the ninth, her little brother is grabbing and….. she lets him have the toy. “Thank you sweetie! I know that you had the doll first but do you see how happy you’ve just made Avi? Keep it up and he’ll learn how to share with you!”

2. Give Them Your Undivided Attention

Your time is precious – show them that theirs is too. You’re preparing dinner, overseeing homework, and then the phone rings. “Mommy, please can you help me with this question?”

Think about this scenario for a second. There are two options here. You could whisper to your child that you’ll be off in five minutes – the amount of time it’ll take to hear about the great deal your sister found today – or you could tell her “Listen Sarah, I can’t wait to hear all about it, but I’ll ave to call you back. I’m just helping Benny with his homework.” Let your child know that your attention is focused on him. Granting him quality undivided focus will teach him to appreciate the value of a person’s time.

3. Pull Back the Curtains on Your Efforts

Have you ever gone to see a professional production and marvelled at the product before you? Did you forget, even just for a moment (or for the entire play) how much work and collaboration goes into coordinating all the costumes, music, acting, and special effects? That is, until the production teams were thanked at the curtain call? This is how you kids view you.

Your children accept realities at face value. When they sit down to dinner they don’t wonder how it came to be. They accept as a given that clothes are always fresh and clean (“Mommy, how come your socks are in my drawer?” he giggles).

Well, I’ve started pulling back the curtain and letting little ones in on parenting secrets. My little one asked recently in all sincerity why I had to go to work, as we have the money we need to buy things. He said “the cashier always gives you money when you buy things.” Money? Trees? Anyone? But seriously, I’ve begun explaining how all the neat and tidy ends come to be at home, and that it’s not merely by the swish of a wand.

4. Hone Their Work Ethic

I love chores. Not doing them per se, but rather the habitual nature of them. I’m all for little ones learning to clean the bathroom with you. If you find that a bit much, begin with gently handing over a paper towel when your little one spills the milk. Or have her put a new bag into the garbage bin. And thank them for it – specifically. Remember point #1? The more educated they become on what it takes to run a home, the sooner you’ll begin to receive their expressions of thanks.

5. Mitzva Note Flips

So many schools have implemented the mitzva note system, encouraging parents of kindergarten aged kids to send in notes catching their ids in a good deed. One of the best tricks I’ve found in imbuing a sense of appreciation within little ones is for them to ‘write’ or just voice mitzva notes for other family members. Whether for parents or siblings, having a child focus verbal expression on the good that they see others doing, especially for their own good, creates a world of thanks. Offer suggestions such as “Mommy, thank you for giving me a bath so that I’m always clean,” or “Mom, thank you for such a delicious dinner that helps me grow big and strong.”

6. Model Appreciation

It goes without saying, practice what you preach. To raise an appreciative child, you must exemplify the appreciative person you’d like them to become.

It all begins with “Modeh ani…” Thank You, Creator of the universe, for another joyous opportunity to raise my children with appreciation and recognition of Your good graces, and the efforts of those around them.

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Why I’m Not Booking a Vacation – Again

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I love travelling. The sights, the experience and the education all entrance me. However, I don’t go away more often than once every few years.

I’ve been known to spend hours on deal sites, travel sites, flight comparisons and train fare sites, without ever actually booking. I yearn to visit the locations in the photos. I research a city’s history, its excursions and its entertainment venues. And then I close the browser windows.

Why?

Well, today was one of those days. With midwinter vacation coming up, I found myself battling the travel itch. It’s bitter cold, and my wanderlust has kicked in. I need to visit the great outdoors! Well, with my little guy in tow and getting older, I knew there was a chance. And then I clicked that little “x.”

To me vacation is about getting in touch with yourself and your surroundings. Where we live in such a temporary society, with seconds whizzing by, I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on going to theme parks. A week in paradise sounds wonderful, but then, so does the prospect of growing as a person, as a mother, as a woman.

Living in America, there are so many tens of locations I would love to see. I love learning about and experiencing history, and these are the experiences I seek in a vacation. Until now I have savoured these moments in the Eretz haKodesh. There aren’t many local options in midwinter because unfortunately this is the time when travel is most difficult in cold climates.

Our vacation will be spent at home. Exploring and experiencing our city’s own history. We will enjoy one another’s company, and create lasting memories together. After all, isn’t that was history is made of?

My kind of vacation.

Make some memories today.

Why I Love Meal Planning

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Life with kids is busy, to say the least. What if there was one small change we could all make to simplify our lives?

Meal planning.

I discovered (ok, committed to) meal planning only over the past few months. Before that I would see food bloggers speaking of the benefits over and over, but couldn’t see myself doing the same. I liked walking through the grocery store and buying what looked fresh and appealing. I didn’t want my creativity to be stifled by having to follow a meal plan each night. I made menus for yomim tovim and for Shabbos, but never for weekday meals.

This method of non-structured meal prep allowed me to make decisions on a whim, cooking whatever I was in the mood for each night based on staple ingredients I’d keep at home – or run out for shortly before – with my little guy in tow. I was wasting produce that I couldn’t use up during the week, always feeling bad for tossing them.

Recently I took the plunge and committed to meal planning. The end result?

Structure = Less Stress – My menu is stuck to the refrigerator at the beginning of each week, so I know exactly what’s going to be happening, and when. I can then go on autopilot without having to stress out each day at the 4:00 crunch thinking “what should I make today?”

Time Management – When planning my menu, I’m able to see what preparatory tasks can be taken care of the night before. If I know that one day is going to busier and I need a throw together meal, I can chop veggies the night before, or even just take out the dry ingredients and have them ready on the counter so that meal prep runs like clockwork.

Less Wasted Food and Money – Meal planning allows us to take stock of our ingredients before meal planning. Once we know what we have on hand, we know what we don’t need to buy, and can avoid doubling up on perishable ingredients. Structured planning also allows us to pointedly make use of ingredients that may be on their way out, by planning to toss them into a soup or stew where the difference goes unnoticed.

Quicker Shopping Trips – I do a big shop once a week. That’s it. So I know that I ave to have all necessary ingredients on hand in order to follow my plan. Once my meal plan is set for the week, I’m able to create accurate lists, with the number of each food item I’ll need to buy, because i know how many times I’ll cook with it throughout the week. I then divide these up appropriately into the few stores that I hit during my shopping trip.

Failing to Plan = Planning to Fail – I now know the difference meal planning has made in my life. I’m less stressed, more organized, and feel good about how much less I’m wasting on a weekly basis. I’m hoping to put up my weekly meal plans going forth, to share with you some Ideas that will inspire you to get on the bandwagon and come meal plan with me.

Dinner menu for this week:

Fri night – Soup, gefilte fish, beets, green beans, roasted potatoes, roasted mushrooms, fruit salad, healthy rice krispy treats

Seuda Shlishis – G-fish, green beans, roasted potatoes, roasted mushrooms, fruit salad

Sun – G-fish, beets, green beans, roasted potatoes and mushrooms from Shabbos

Mon – Tomato zucchini meatball soup, fruit salad

Tues – Chickpea feta salad with whole wheat biscuits, melon

Wed – Tomato zucchini meatball soup, melon

Thurs – pancakes, cottage cheese, fresh veggies, fruit

From Worker Mom to SAHM & Back Again… and Chocolate

I never thought I could be a stay at home mom. My son wstairs to successas active and sociable from birth, and I started him in a playgroup from a young age. I had just finished my degree and was considering what the future would hold for me. Whatever it would be, all day at home was not going to cut it as my itch for more grew stronger. I had more to offer the world than I could do from inside the walls of my home.

Until the day I finished my next degree.

My son was older, and I had spent months after month away from him, putting in late nights studying on campus. Family members graciously pitched in and took babysitting shifts morning, afternoon and evening to accommodate my schedule. I would come home each night intellectually drained and emotionally spent. Well, the effort paid off. I graduated at the top of the class.

And all I wanted was to know that I could live the life of the stay at home mom, and spend the time with my little one.

What changed? Life circumstances, and the pekel HaKadosh Baruch Hu had granted me. For the first time, I needed  to work to bring in parnassa. It wasn’t a choice, it was a clear message. “You need to go out and impact the world now.” And all I wished for was to impact my family; after all, family comes first, right?

Well, I’ve learnt that we aren’t the ones in charge here, and will continuously share from other examples as they crop up in daily life. No, we aren’t in charge of the circumstances.

We are in control of our reactions.

Remember that old Forest Gump quote? (bring on the twangy accent here!) “Life is like a box o’ chocolates, you never know what’re gonna get.” Well, we aren’t the ones who pick the chocolates. And sometimes the chocolates we’re gifted are the dark chocolates of the bunch. Remember though, dark chocolate is also referred to as bittersweet and to be honest it’s absolutely my preference.

We never know why we’re given circumstances in life. Why are we granted this test, or that challenge? I’ve watched as the money in the bank depletes itself. I know that I have to work. I also know that there is good to be given to the world through my doing so, at the same time as my little guy is needing his mama. So you know what I’m telling myself?

If the Good Lord has brought me here, and given me what seems like the dark chocolate, He will make it bittersweet. If he wants me to work, it is because it will benefit me, showing me strengths and my flaws. I will grow. As a person, and as a mother, I will grow. I will savour the precious moments will my little guy, and appreciate the quality, making each day count to the best of my ability.

I will strive, and I will thrive.

Moms out there, you are doing a fantastic job. Every moment you spend with your family is a chessed. You are growing these little beings, and shaping them by the very essence of your being. Whether you work or you’re home, know that it is what He wants of you, and He has given you the capability and the circumstances to see the situation as sweet.

Note: No chocolate was harmed in the writing of this post. That’s to say nothing of the chocolate that may be consumed after I hit publish.

Life is sweet. Savour the moments.

What Makes a Mother

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Have you ever thought about it?

Each of us is created of a partnership: G-d + father + mother = life.

Whether we have grown up with a mother in our lives or not; whether we have had a close, nurturing relationship with our mothers or not; whether we have known a biological mother or not, now is our time. It’s time that we take hold of this opportunity to become the best mothers we can be.

Mothering is not about perfection – it’s not about having doilies on dustless furniture like our Bubbies had, or about having dinner on the table every night at five o’clock before the kids go bouncing off the walls. And let me share a secret, it’s not even about having professional photos of the most adorable smiling faces all in matching outfits.

Being a mother is about being the nurturing woman you are, with the capabilities the Good Lord Above has blessed you with. HaKadosh Baruch Hu has given YOU strengths, weaknesses, talents and shortcomings that make you unique and valued as a member of the klal.

What we hold within us is incredible potential. We are mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, and we are changing the world one step at a time. Perfection is not measurable. Perfection is being you.

Now go be YOU and love yourself for it.

New Beginnings – Welcome :)

1387933_19906830Hi! I’m so glad you’re here!

Pull up a comfy seat, a cup of coffee, and join me in my journey – the same journey we are all living. We all have days when we can use a friend out there, and that’s exactly what this blog is meant to provide; a point of connectivity for Jewish Imas, Moms and Mummies the world over.

As Jewish women we know the elation of sharing in joyous occasions, the sorrow of sharing in heartbreak, and the blessings to be found amidst the everyday chaos or cherished moments of calm. As Jewish mothers we know the balancing act it takes to keep it all in order.

Throughout my life, as we all have, I’ve seen times of abundant simcha, as well as days of struggle and strife. Throughout it all I’ve learnt to appreciate the small things, and the process of living and learning throughout it all.

Join me as we work together collectively in our avoda. I promise you, with continuous and collective work towards sincere bitachon and a balanced life, the brachos that await us are unyielding.

Let’s do this together.