working mothers and the struggle to make ends meet

This blog post was done in collaboration with Women Employed

I’ve mentioned my amazing mother many times on the blog, but today I’d like to give you a bit more background about her. When I was ten years old, and my brothers - Ori and Ziv - were fifteen and twelve, our beloved father passed away from a heart attack. I was incredibly close to my dad and his death was devastating. My mom continued to raise the three of us herself, and we knew our lives would change forever.

My mother worked hard as a Hebrew teacher, and at times worked multiple teaching jobs to ensure our lives would remain normal and full of opportunity. We played whatever sport we wanted (with the exception of football. Sorry Ori…), we went to summer camp, and she sent all three of us to college. I even went with my senior class in high school on a trip to Italy. But there were sacrifices we had to make as a family. Sacrifices my mom had to make. We understand how much she did for us and continues to do for us till this day. I can’t explain the feeling of pride that runs through our family. The admiration and love we all share always comes back to her. 

When I became a mother myself, I wanted to call my mom every day to say “thank you” (and to apologize for… everything). After my second baby was born, I only became more overwhelmed by my responsibilities, and more in awe of my mother. How did she do all of this, and on her own? It was at that point that I realized how important it is to support mothers. Mothers who wake up every day and take care of their babies through everything, with or without someone there to support them and witness their struggle.

Fortunately for our family, we grew up with a parent who had steady and stable work to rely on. She had benefits, a predictable schedule and paid sick days. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many women. Women are twice as likely as men to work at jobs with poverty-level wages. In the United States, nearly 17 million women earn less than $25,000 a year despite working in full-time, year-round jobs.  For low-income workers, over 70% lack sick days. For mothers, this can make life impossible. When their children become sick, they risk being fired or are forced to quit because they can’t make it to work. The risk is greater if there is no spouse, partner, or adult family member to provide additional care. There is a constant fear and anxiety over the ability to pay bills, put food on the table, and provide basic care for herself and her kids. 

In addition to low-pay and unpaid leave, 59% of full-time, hourly-workers experience schedule fluctuations. One week they may work 40 hours, the next they may work 10, but there is no way to know ahead of time. As you can imagine, mothers and caregivers suffer most. Finding daycare becomes a weekly and often hopeless endeavor. What daycare can accommodate such a demanding and inconsistent schedule?

There can be hope for the future. Costco, for example, has a policy of “core hours” for workers where employees are promised a minimum amount of hours each week. While some companies have turn-over rates nearing 100%, Costco's is only 11%. It’s important that our legislators work to make this the standard. It’s also important that workers understand their company’s policies, lest they be taken advantage of unknowingly.

There are many ways to help the millions of mothers in need of good and fair work. Women Employed is a nonprofit dedicated to serving women in the workplace. They work with lawmakers to pass fair workplace legislation and with companies to implement fair policies. You can volunteer, write to your representatives, and learn about your own rights by visiting their website. If you or a friend has experienced a hostile work environment, please write to them with your stories. They’re here for you.

We don’t have be alone in our struggles. We can be each other’s witnesses in hard times, and work together to secure a better future!

Nurit SiegalComment
Saying "Not My Problem" and Other Things to Try Out in Spring
 

Are you a people pleaser? I shared a video from the show "Black-ish" on a recent post, and I just have to show another one. After dealing with a patronizing doctor for far too long, the leading matriarch of the show, Dr. Bow Johnson, finally snaps at him. Such an amazing moment that I'm sure many of us have only dreamed about...

A family friend recently gave me this golden advice recently. She said, instead of trying to please the people who show miserable behavior, why don't you just say to yourself "It's not my problem" and move on. Of course, their actions still may affect you deeply, but at least you've liberated yourself from the huge responsibility of walking on eggshells all. the time. 

How does that sound for a spring resolution? What are some things you're "trying on" for Spring? In case you're looking for a couple more ideas, here are a few...

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Want to eat more vegetables? I tried out an edited version of this dip and loved it. It's a refreshing kosher-for-Passover treat for whenever you need a break from matzah brei. 

Veggie dip
About two cups plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil (plus more for drizzling later)
1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 small clove)
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp parsley, chopped (or 2 frozen cubes)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp onion powder

Mix all of the ingredients together very well. Use a food processor if you want to add the anchovies. 

Or maybe some orange tulips to brighten up your home... I love the blue vase (multi-purpose vessel?) I picked up on sale at the new Home Goods in our area. 


Here's an easy tip for our how to protect your feet from blisters in your spring flats or sandals.


Are you insta?? If so, do you follow Martha Stewart? I don't really do any of those projects, but it is so fun to follow

 

What are you trying out for spring?
A new way of thinking? A new recipe? Something else?

 

P.S.  Follow L & B on instagram
P.P.S  This tastes good in spring too...

 
Nurit SiegalComment
Six #RealLife Tips for Hosting Guests and 7 Passover Recipes

Do you like to host? Or maybe it makes you get a little intense?? Between my husband's family and my own, we have people staying with us somewhat often. Once in a while, we'll have friends or people we don't know very well over for a Shabbat meal. But that doesn't mean I have a handle on it yet. When I was in my first year of marriage, I thought if I didn't absolutely love hosting, then something was wrong with me. It meant I couldn't get it together and that I was a failure of sorts. But now I'm older and wiser, right? No, I still struggle with crazy expectations. So without further ado, here are six pieces of advice I try to keep in mind.

  1.  If you don't like to host (or you don’t enjoy it at this point in time), then don't do it. ­If you like to or sometimes have to, then read on...
     
  2.  Buy prepared food if possible. You can use it to supplement your home-cooked dishes. Many times, I don’t cook a single thing I serve to our families when they come to visit. I secretly love plating food that I didn't have to slave over.
     
  3.  I still struggle with this one a lot, but…. Repeat after me: You are not responsible for your guests' happiness. Sometimes, guests won’t want to talk. They’ll never say thank you. They’ll cast a gray cloud. And while it may feel very unpleasant – Girl, it is not your problem. Try to enjoy the meal if you can and no need to invite them again.
     
  4. What do you like about hosting? Making a flower arrangement? Mixing drinks? Using paper plates? Great conversations? Do what you enjoy and try to forget about your neighbor who breaks out her wedding china for all seven courses.
     
  5.  If you have plans to host and life all of a sudden decides to hit you like a ton of bricks... try to reach out to a friend/a loved one and tell them what’s up. Maybe your wedding-china neighbor has tons of dessert to spare so you have one less thing to do. Yes, you can even talk to your guests. They may understand if you really just need to rain check.
     
  6.  Hosting can be very expensive…. It’s the untold secret you don’t realize until you’re checking out at the store. If you still want to have guests, try not to compare yourself to other people’s elaborate meals. Having a simple table is something I appreciate as a guest. I always feel uncomfortable if I don’t taste all five platters of meat I was served.
     

You’re doing great. I promise. You have a place to come back to and vent if you feel like everything went wrong. Just remember… the flops often make for really great stories. Let’s hear them. What are your words of wisdom for hosting? What are some of your nightmare hosting stories??

 

And if you're hosting for Passover... here are seven Kosher for Passover Recipes to try out. Click on the pictures!

Scroll down for this recipe on my Joy of Kosher post. Swap the crackers for matzah crackers 

Scroll down for this recipe on my Joy of Kosher post. Swap the crackers for matzah crackers 

Scroll down for this salmon and pesto recipe on my Joy of Kosher post

Scroll down for this salmon and pesto recipe on my Joy of Kosher post

Strategies for Getting Out of the House in The Morning
sneak peak of some fun projects coming up...

sneak peak of some fun projects coming up...

What are your strategies for leaving the house in the morning? 

I asked you guys this question on social media and there was a big conversation that came out of it. For me, my mornings would benefit from a makeover (which was my motivation for this post!) But I've accepted that they're never going to be hyper-organized with a minute-to-minute schedule. Do you have a militant schedule you follow, or is it more "moment to moment"? Here's what some of you had to say about how to get yourself (and your kids) out that door. 

Chava
Do as much the night before as possible. Make lunches, tidy house, set out clothing, set out winter clothing, pack backpacks.... I don't do this as often as I should but when i do, the morning is blissful

Mollie
I don't make lunches which helps a lot. My oldest gets hot lunch at school. Next year my toddler is going to a play-group that serves lunch. I bought a good thermos and a coffee cup and make my breakfast to eat at work while the kids are eating their's. I regularly thank God that school and work are super close to home or I would be toast.

Rachel
I only have one baby lol and I can't even figure it out yet... It takes awhile because brushing my teeth while singing the wheels on the bus isn't easy... serious respect to moms with more kids!!!

Ira
As a guy, I am weighing in here. We have 5 to get out the door in the AM. Unless my court schedule does not allow for it, the answer is that both parents have to help. In my case, it means [getting to shul (synagogue)] early or later and it means that my wife has to rely on me to do certain things. Again, I am not always perfect and sometimes the schedule does not allow. But generally, that's the best answer.

Wendy (on leaving when the kids are staying home)
Yes if you can leave before they get up, that tends to be the quickest. But if they are not old enough & there's not another adult in the house, you could also get charged for that. So you gotta sit down & do a real cost/benefit analysis first.

Shulamit
Kids out to the car in PJs or naked

Sarah
This is what I do to get my 3 out each morning (most of the time I have help from my husband but this week he's gone) 1.) pack lunches the night before 2.) Get up a bit before them 3.) Get everyone dressed right away before breakfast 4.) I tell them it's cereal for breakfast but they can chose which 5.) I finish getting myself ready but I call out to them with updates and reminders, esp how many minutes left. It's not easy to leave the house (ever) but I'm a stickler for time, especially if I'm paying for it. Don't do more than the basics, whatever that is for you.

Ilana
Learning to be okay with being late.

Chaya
The key is training! They all go down and give themselves and my 4 year old breakfast and make their lunches and snacks. Every once in a while I call down and make sure they are doing it. Then they come up and get dressed and I dress my little one and myself last. Then they get shoes and coats on while I make little one's lunch and we go out the door. At 8:20 every day.

Discussion on waking up before the kids: 

  • Suri: My best piece of advice is to wake up half an hour before you have to wake your kids. It's such a huge difference to be able to have a cup of coffee in peace, and get dressed, before the morning madness begins.
  • Ilana: I so want to do this but I am SO HORRIBLE at getting out of bed in the morning. I'm always so tired and have never been a morning person. But my mornings would be way less hectic if I did. And I'd prob be on time to work more also :(
  • Lori: I feel the same way. Mornings were the hardest part of parenting for me. (Still are)
  • Paige: Lori, I know right. Even my baby sleeps in with us sometime too! We are raising another generation of bad morning people...
  • Suri: So, sometimes I do snooze my alarm, but at least if I am starting out 30 minutes before then, then even if I snooze it once or twice, I still have a net gain of time before kids
  • Chava: I have the same issue, just want to stay in bed as long as I can. I found that it helps to start slow. Get up 5 minutes early (prep coffee the night before). And work slowly towards a half hour.
  • Chava: Of course, the mornings I do get up early, so do the kids :)
  • Lori: My baby (who is turning 16!!) has my sleep genes lol. If we have a snow day or for some reason no push to get up, we can literally both sleep all morning!


What about you? How do you feel about the mornings? Do you get up before the kids or was that your New Years Resolution? 

 

Nurit SiegalComment
Three-Ingredient Ice Cream! (Alternatives to Make it Kosher for Passover)

Passover is coming up fast and I know some of you are starting to look out for good recipes and to brainstorm meal plans. If you are indeed cooking for some of the meals (or maybe all of them?), you're probably about to purchase an enormous amount of potatoes and eggs... yeah? We're having the Seders at home so I'm looking forward to making my annual 8-trips-to-the-store-in-24-hours because I keep forgetting ingredients. I would loooove to hear your thoughts on how you're trying to keep things *really* simple to reduce stress and anxiety. What did you learn from last year that you're rethinking this year? 

If you're looking for another staple ingredient besides potatoes, eggs, and matzah meal... I recommend bananas. I rarely make desserts from scratch, but I thought this one would be fun for the blog because all you need are bananas and almond milk to start. Have you ever made this? To make it kosher for Passover, instead of adding something like peanut butter, use a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder, a handful of chocolate chips, and/or mix in frozen strawberries.

Is this something you would make?

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Ingredients
3 Bananas
1-2 Tbsp Peanut Butter or Cocoa Powder
Almond Milk
Chocolate chips (optional)
Walnuts (optional)

Directions
Slice the bananas into small chunks and place in a freezer-safe container. Freeze completely in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Once frozen, place the bananas in a food processor/blender. Add a few splashes of almond milk and 1 to 2 tbsp of peanut butter. Blend until the bananas look like a creamy ice cream without any chunks. Add more peanut butter (or almond milk) if desired. Serve immediately or place in the freezer covered until you're ready to serve.

Optional
Melt a few handfuls of chocolate chips in the microwave with a few splashes of almond milk. Take out the chocolate and mix around until the mixture is completely smooth. Melt a bit more/add more almond milk if necessary. Pour over individual cups of ice cream, or mix into the banana ice cream mixture and top with walnuts. 

Serves 2-4 people. But it's easy to double or triple the recipe