Meal Plan Week 10 – Leftovers as an Essential Part of Balancing Life

Whew! Things are getting busy around here. Pesach cleaning is in full swing, and I’ll be honest, that means some corners are being cut in other areas of life.

Enter: leftovers.

As a busy mother trying to maintain a work-life balance, I’ve trained my family’s diet into one that utilizes its fair share of leftovers. I won’t necessarily serve the exact same menu ever time, and a new side dish, or configuration of the meal might be offered, but I simply don’t have time to make an entire meal every evening.

Leftovers can be a lifesaver, saving time, money, and sanity. Well, that is if the original dish was one your family liked first-time-round!

With Pesach fast approaching, and less time for cooking, I’ve been pulling out previously cooked dishes as I empty my freezer, and have been cooking in larger quantities to stretch meals beyond one night.

Meal Plan Week 10 – Leftovers and Life’s Balance

Friday night – Gefilte fish, spaghetti and meatballs, green beans, mushroom potato boureka roll, and whole wheat banana chocolate chip cake.

Shabbos lunch – Gefilte fish, Hawaiian wine sauce brisket, strawberry mango romaine salad with honey dijon dressing, mushroom  potato boureka roll, and whole wheat banana chocolate chip cake.

Sunday – Restaurant outing for a family celebration

Monday – Spaghetti and meatballs, green beans

Tuesday – Brisket, mushroom potato boureka roll, peas, and melon

Wednesday – Spaghetti lasagna bake, peas, and melon

Thursday – Homemade bean burritos from the freezer

What are your favorite dishes to make in big batches and serve throughout the week? How do you dress up leftovers so your family will enjoy them? Please share!

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6 Tips for Job Hunting as a Mom

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Despite having the heart of a stay and home mother, I’ve found myself having to go out into the workforce as the primary breadwinner for our family. When I completed my program last year and graduated with a what I was told statistically was a very employable career, I thought finding a job would be a piece of cake. Little did I know that statistically employable job description in this day and age would mean only a few dozen job applications being sent out before receiving an interview. To be clear, that’s 46 applications, and 5 interviews at last count.

The market at the moment is a tough one for anyone seeking employment; man or woman, recent grad or seasoned employee. As mothers, women are often torn between whether to venture out into the work force, or remain at home. Depending how tight finances become, and how frugal a couple is willing to get along being, the decision is sometimes in a woman’s hands, and is sometimes made for her. Either way, if she does find herself seeking employment, job hunting is a fate that inevitably awaits her. Thus post is about simplifying the job application process so that a mother can maintain balance while seeking employment.

  1. Find someone already working in the business. Someone already working in your field of choice is not only experienced in their work, but in what a potential employer seeks. They know what skills a resume should promote and what about their cover letter caught the employer’s attention. Once you reach the interview stage, ask if they’d spend twenty minutes coaching you through potential questions. Build a rapport with this person and don’t feel shy about asking them to forward your resume out further than you’re able to reach.
  2. Network, network, network. I cant stress enough how vital this is. As a natural introvert, I’ve had to step waaaaaayyyy outside of my comfort zone here, but I’ve already seen it paying off. Reach out to anyone who knows anyone in your community and beyond, and ask if you could send them your resume and cover letter. Each time I send mine out, I add the line “Feel free to forward as you see fit,” because you never know whose eye it might catch. Friends of friends are always fair game. In my book, schlep is absolutely an avenue towards employment.
  3. Refine your resume. Research shows that employers spend less than 10 seconds scanning a resume before deciding that an applicant is or isn’t candidate material. Take advantage of resume writing workshops. Ensure that keywords match skills sought after by employers in your field.
  4. Craft a cover letter that presents the true you. When I was first job hunting, my cover letter was very to the point, detailing my qualifications as a potential employee based on my academic and employment history. Shortly after I began job hunting I was approached by two contacts who said to me that my cover letter was too manufactured and needed to tell the story of who I was. I spent some time, and decided to craft a letter that tied in my parenting history with the (quite unrelated) employment field I was entering. To my surprise, employers were interested, and it was with these new cover letters that I began receiving calls for interviews!
  5. Pace yourself. Job hunting is draining. Each job submission takes time and effort. Leafing through job classifieds often takes more time than the application process itself. With little ones underfoot and a million other things on your mind, it’s important to keep from burning out. Set a quota each week and stick staunchly to it. For myself I found putting in one good morning per wee (about five hours) has brought in slow but steady results, without leaving me overwhelmed by the process.
  6. Know your employment parameters, and hold them dearly. I recently had an interview at 7:30 am – yup, your read that correctly. It was in a great office with a respected name in my industry. I left the interview knowing however that whether or not I received a call back, this wasn’t the place for me. I am a mother first and foremost, and knew that this would not be an office to provide the flexibility I require as a mother. From this I learnt my lesson; all that glitters is not gold. My role as a mother comes first.

What tips would you like to share with soon to be working moms out there? What factors do you feel have contributed to your employment? Hit comment below and let us know!

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.