The Sephardic Heritage Museum Explores THE LIFE AND ESCAPE of the JEWS OF SYRIA

Past Articles:

By: Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed

Due to popular demand, Tammy Sassoon is now available to answer your most challenging parenting questions. If you are a frustrated mom or dad looking for answers to a specific problem at home, or want to improve your parenting skills in a certain area, then send an email will suggestnew and effective parenting strategies that actually work!

Dear Tammy,

I am have 3 children aged 11, 7, and 2.
By the time my kids are home from school for one hour I feel exhausted, and dread the idea that I still have hours of work ahead of me. I have a great relationship with them. I just feel that by this point I become irritable. Obviously, when I become irritable, the overall mood in the house becomes negative.


Desperate for Advice

Dear Desperate for Advice,

It is wonderful that you have a great relationship with your children. Many parents would not be able to say that. Your desire to be calm, combined with your humble ability to seek help, is a recipe for finding a solution to your problem soon.

Many mothers I speak to have the same experience. The amount of time that a mother is able to happily be of service to her children is different for each person. You are describing that the feeling of negativity sets in after one hour. Some people say that it sets in after fifteen minutes, and some describe that it sets in after several hours. It all depends on your emotional makeup, as well as the dynamic in your family. I will offer two suggestions which can surely lead to a new, better life with your children.

The first suggestion is to “sharpen your saw.” What does that mean? In Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, his Habit #7 is “Sharpen your Saw.” Covey brings a story about a woodcutter who was spending a very long time trying to saw down a tree. A man walked by and asked him why he doesn’t sharpen his saw. The woodcutter answered that he doesn’t have time to stop. He continued sawing away, wasting his energy because his saw was not working efficiently. At a later point, he decided to heed the man’s advice, and took a few minutes to sharpen his saw. In no time, the tree was efficiently chopped down.

“Sharpen your saw” means that you have to take the time needed to be more effective. You can do this by creating a better balance in your life. You can’t enjoy optimal effectiveness or good relationships if you don’t create balance in your life, and take care of yourself. A car can’t drive unless you stop to give it fuel. You need to give yourself fuel. Children have many needs, and you need to have more “fuel” in store than what is needed just to saw a piece of wood. You need to give yourself more fuel, and thus become more effective by “sharpening your saw.” Doing this can be accomplished in many different ways, such as by exercising, reading, praying, doing needle point, swimming, etc. Start by making a list of all the things you can do to create more balance in your life.

My second suggestion is that you work very hard on “focusing on the present moment.” When I become stressed about How am I going to care for my children for the next few hours?, I remind myself that I have to stop “minding Hashem’s business.” I have no clue what will be in the next two minutes! Nobody does. Hashem wants us to let go of all our worries about the future, and give them over to Him. Embrace each present moment as a gift and an opportunity to give. When I get really stuck, and feel I can’t let go, I pause to ask Hashem to help me to let these thoughts go. Only then can I be mentally present.


A Practical Homework Assignment
That Can Surely Change Your Life

Decide which activities you will engage in DAILY (yes, I said DAILY) that will give you the fuel you need to take care of your children. Spend a few minutes each day engaging in these activities. If you are thinking that you don’t have time, I will tell you that we make time for what is important to us. “Sharpening your saw” is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family.