Positive Parenting – Tammy Sassoon, M.S. ED


Dear Tammy, 

I am not away for the summer, and I am feeling like I need some time away from my children – just to rest up. Do you have any advice for me?  



Needing a Break 


Dear Needing a Break, 

You are no different than any other mother on earth.  


Whether someone is in a different surrounding for the summer or is staying home, it’s important to understand the purpose of “time off.” Everyone needs it. It can be as simple as taking a walk for an hour every few days or resting in the backyard for a few minutes. Let’s define “time off” as time away from responsibilities, or vacations. In order for us to make the most of our vacations, we first have to figure out the purpose of vacations.  


In order to know what vacations are for we need to know what our goals in life are. We need to have larger goals, and then we make daily decisions to support our main goals.  Many people come back from vacation (or a few minutes “off”) feeling unsatisfied. How could that be? If their goal in life is to indulge, they have done that on the vacation, but when they get back, they want more, since they haven’t fulfilled their goal of indulging themselves at every moment in their life. It’s kind of like a bottomless pit. However, if someone’s goal in life is to connect to Hashem, they will make decisions throughout their day that support their goals. Then a vacation would look very different. Then the purpose of a vacation would be for one to recharge his or her batteries so that when one gets back from the vacation one feels refreshed and rested, and ready to go enjoy doing more service, and taking care of family and community needs. 


I’ve heard people ask if it’s okay to enjoy, to relax, and take it easy. Hashem loves us. He wants us to enjoy ourselves, relax, and take it easy. When we do this, when we take care of ourselves, only then can we maximize our ability to become the greatest people we can be. And we all know that a life of giving is much more fulfilling and joyful than a life of indulgence. Would an ambulance driver ask if he is allowed to stop and refill his gas tank? Filling up on gas (like recharging our personal batteries) allows him to operate his ambulance efficiently and go help people. If he was always driving on that last drop of gas, the ride would be unsmooth, and he would not be able to run to be of service in an efficient manner. Of course, he needs to fill up on gas, and of course, we need some time for ourselves. 


In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Sean Covey, the author’s last habit, is called “sharpen the saw.” It relates a metaphor told about a man who was not able to effectively use his saw because he did not want to take time to sharpen it. Once he agreed to stop sawing and take time to sharpen his saw, he was able to cut much more efficiently and joyfully. If we take time out of our lives to relax and “sharpen our saws” we will be much more joyful and effective in all capacities. 


So, my advice to you is to find some time for yourself, outline the purpose of taking this time, and fully enjoy it.