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By: Miriam Sasson

Homemaking, as any homemaker will confirm, is one big juggling act. The shaatra mother’s list of responsibilities rivals that of the Walmart CEO! Jewish mothers the world over will go to any lengths to care for their children: shopping, cooking, cleaning, feeding, dressing, and carpooling, often while holding down jobs, too. They excel in their wifely responsibilities and often attend weddings and school functions, to boot. For a woman, a mere twenty-four hours is not enough time in the day… unless she organizes those hours prudently.

Enter Jill Dushey, inventor of the Shaatra Club Planner.

A Shaatra Mom

            Jill Dushey, a young mother of four in Deal, New Jersey, is a creative genius. Jill claims she’s always been this way – constantly brainstorming new ideas. “I always need to be doing something creative,” she says. Moreover, this energetic woman thrives on eliciting inspiration from others. These trademark qualities are splashed all over the pages of The Shaatra Club Planner.

A Shaatra Planner

            What exactly is the Shaatra Club Planner?

            The planner, published in both daily and weekly layouts, features the basics every Jewish woman needs to maintain an orderly lifestyle: Candle lighting times, Jewish and legal holidays, sunrise and sunset times, fast day beginning and end times. But what sets the Shaatra Club Planner apart is the aura with which it was put together. Embedded in its pages is a sense of pride in the Jewish homemaker’s work and the desire to help her succeed. There are areas provided for drafting shopping lists, as well as Shabbat and holiday menus. There are also daily doses of inspiration, as well as a “daily top three priorities” feature.

            “I love getting people to think,” says The Shaatra Club Planner mastermind, which is precisely what she accomplishes with the organizer. “And I love being able to help others.”

            An accessory of over 300 women, The Shaatra Club Planner is owned not only by community members, but women from all over the world. “I received orders from England, and Mexico, and some interest from Switzerland and Israel - all countries where international shipping costs more than the planner!” Jill laughs. “We’ve had orders from Miami, Chicago, Texas, and even Kansas.”

The Shaatra Club

           The Shaatra Club Planner is actually the offshoot of an earlier brainchild of Jill’s, The Shaatra Club. In 2013, Jill initiated a get-together of women in Deal to “fill the freezers.” “My friends would say ‘there’s no one in Deal!’” Jill explains, “And I wanted to prove otherwise and bring us together.” Jill and her peers worked out the particulars, even creating a logo to solidify The Shaatra Club. Four girls joined together and rolled enough mechshe to last several months. The Shaatra Club held gatherings two or three more times, but Jill Dushey’s mind was already brimming with new ideas. The club on Instagram eventually evolved into a forum for Jill’s weekly challenges (“This week, clean your car”) and inspirational, fun discussions ("Describe your year in just five words.")

“It grew slowly,” Jill says, remembering the days leading up to The Shaatra Club’s present following of 1,350 members. Jill loved reading others’ thoughtful posts and wanted to do something concrete that would inspire change. She took note of the papers littered all over her furniture, including the endless piles of post-its, to do lists, kids’ schedules and calendar pages. Always brimming with creative solutions, Jill took out a paper and started drawing out some planner layouts. The idea of condensing all the papers in her life into one planner, while incorporating a motivational thinking element took root… and The Shaatra Club Planner was born.

Shaatra’s Fans

Did Jill imagine that The Shaatra Club would grow to such an extent? “No way!” she exclaims. She was looking neither to build a business nor to expand one. “I simply wanted people to stop and smell the roses,” she asserts. But the club, and the planner in particular, have enhanced so many women’s lives.

“I can’t live without your planner” and “When is your next planner coming out already?” are just some of the positive feedback Jill receives regarding The Shaatra Club Planner. She reports that women often purchase planners for themselves and, completely hooked, dash back soon afterward to purchase more as gifts for family and friends.

That feedback has changed Jill Dushey and has kept her going in her “Shaatra” activities. She describes the delightful thrill that comes with helping others keep organized. “Last year,” Jill laughs, “I saw a newlywed in Stop ‘n Shop shopping with my planner in hand!” She excitedly approached the young woman, who promptly informed Jill that the organizer does not leave her side.

The planner does not leave Jill’s side, either. “I use the daily layout of my planner every day! I always regret when I don’t bring it on a quick errand.”

Shaatra Shenanigans

          In spite ofJill’s upbeat attitude, there are challenges – mostly technical in nature. Once, Jill discovered a shipment of planners that contained a full month’s worth of pages printed upside down. She shipped them back, but instead of receiving new ones, she received someone else’s shipment! A few weeks and several phone calls and emails later, Jill still had not replaced those defective planners. “It is from Hashem and is meant to be,” says Jill, referring to the books she never recovered.

            Jill credits her husband, Max Dushey for constantly supporting “all of my crazy ideas!” but especially The Shaatra Planner.

The Shaatra Speaks

            Jill marvels at the individuality and personality that each human being possesses. “People look at me and wonder how I do it all, what with running the house and my business. They tell me ‘Wow, you’re so good; I could never do what you do…’” But the truth is, explains Jill, everyone excels in different areas. “Those very same ones who look up to me should only know how much I look up to them!” Some women shine in the business arena, some have a way with children, some bake gorgeous desserts, and some can host a houseful of guests, with no sweat. Jill’s message is that people should appreciate the talents and qualities they possess within themselves. By doing so, they just may find what they’re good at.

The January 2017 editions of the Shaatra Club Planner are now available! To begin organizing your days, or for more information, visit Jill’s website: shop.shaatraclub.com, or email help@shaatraclub.com.