Avoiding Jewish Mom Burnout
Figuring out a healthier work-family-personal balance.
As Jewish wives and mothers, we are tasked with a plethora of responsibilities and obligations. I was blessed with an extremely hands-on husband and co-parent, and yet I still found myself explaining to him that I felt like I had 100 tabs open simultaneously in the background, draining the phone battery – a.k.a. ME.
Over the years, as I worked professionally and raised five exceptional children together with my incredible husband, I often found that I needed to recharge my battery but wasn’t quite sure how to do that with little kids at home. I kept hearing people talk about the importance of self-care but wasn’t sure how to implement that in my busy daily life. I felt like I was juggling so many “balls of life,” and wasn’t sure how to add the “self-care ball” as well. I felt like if I added anything, all the balls would drop.
I’ve come a long way since then and have figured out a healthier work-family-personal balance. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you.
Every Friday night in Jewish homes across the globe we sing “Eishet Chayil” at the Shabbat table. This song details all the amazing things that a “woman of valor” does in the home and describes her true value as a wife and mother. As an extension of this song, I would like to suggest that it is so important that a woman, particularly a mother, charge her own battery so that she be valued as an independent woman with wants and needs (aside from her family obligations), but also be able to give of herself to others in the best way possible. Valuing a woman of valor must include her own personal fulfillment as well as fulfilling the needs of others.
Many mothers drop themselves to the bottom of their priority list, leaving themselves with limited capability to be there for their kids. This kind of sacrifice has little merit.
When flying, we have all heard the instructions to put on our own oxygen masks first, so that we can then assist our children. Our daily life is no different. As a certified health and life coach, I have seen so many mothers drop themselves to the bottom of their priority list, leaving themselves with little oxygen and limited capability to be there for their kids. In my humble opinion, this kind of sacrifice has little merit. In working with mothers, I show them that investing in their health and wellness and focusing on their needs and wants is the best way to ensure that they can be there for their family long-term without burning out. In addition, mothers must discover their own self-actualization and identity as women – not just as mothers, daughters, wives and sisters. For some women this means finding time for exercise and meeting up with friends, for other women it could be dedicating time to prayer or meditation.
As mothers, we are often presented with “urgent” needs from those around us. Many times, this means pushing aside our own needs, wants and desires to be there for our children. I encourage you to evaluate these situations and determine whether they are truly urgent or if they can be delayed. In the same way that picking up your child from kindergarten at the designated time is non-negotiable, you should approach your “me time” as non-negotiable as well. If there is an emergency, then of course you do what needs to get done, but let’s be honest for a second – how many times do we tell ourselves something is urgent or an emergency when it isn’t?
It is important that mothers plan and manage their time so that they can be more productive and accomplish their long To Do list – but that list must include their own “me time” as well. Skills and habits such as healthy eating, simple meal planning, self-care, clearing clutter, reducing stress, improving sleep, among others, help ensure that mothers prioritize their own needs despite the necessary multi-tasking and many individuals who are vying for their attention.
You might say – “I don’t have time to plan; I am too busy; I have too much going on; I don’t have time for me; I don’t have enough time in the day.” I hear you – I am a busy mom too and I 100% understand your feelings of overwhelm, juggling so many different wants and needs and having to be there for so many people. I get it. But here is the thing: we all have the same 24 hours every day; the key is figuring out how to make the most of them. Planning your time and making time for yourself will save you so much time in the long run. It will improve your productivity, help you feel more fulfilled, more accomplished and more satisfied with your life. We all have time for the things that are truly important – YOU are important!
You are worth investing in. Your needs and desires are important. So, stop – take note of what you truly desire and what your personal and professional goals are and make sure that you have a plan, that you make time for yourself and that you prioritize accordingly.