An Israeli Woman Special Keys to Keeping A Work Life Balance
So picture this: it is the first week of September… (I can see the smile on your faces already…)
my calendar basically looks like a Scottish kilt, with numerous colored rectangles…. I am running to pick up one of my 3 kids to a class, and drop off his brother on the way there, than I plan to go with my youngest to the mall to pick up some notebooks and stationary she still wants for the new year, on the drive there I get 2 work calls, one urgent with the need to resend some presentation I need some more data on, and the other from overseas, and now is the only time that was good for all. (My kids in the car know the drill very well, cell phones go on mute and they keep silent).
After we finish at the mall, during which I was juggling 3 whatsapp class groups and the endless blah blah blah from other parents/the teachers, and grabbed some pizza for dinner, (as it most definitely was NO day for cooking), we get home, I put in a laundry wash, as they can’t wear the new uniform unwashed, and rearranged the house, that it won’t look like a war zone, and after we ate the 5 of us together with our normal chit chat and laughs, I sat down for another 3 hours, for some emails, paperwork, and PowerPoint decks to prepare.
For some of you this might sound painfully familiar and very relatable, for some it might just seem CRAZY!
For most Israeli women I know, this is our daily routine, this is how we live, and for most it is a conscience choice.
So how do we do it?
Allison Pearson, wrote the brilliant British version of the same issue, in her book “I don’t know how she does it”. So here is our Israeli take on the matter.
How do Israeli women juggle work and career, and enjoy the ride too?
I think the clearest way to look at it, is like 4 conceptual spheres that contain one another.
Let’s begin with the me part. Most Israeli girls at 18 years of age serve in the army for 24 months. Even though it’s mandatory it also creates independence, strength, assertiveness, capability to do your own thing, on your own, at a very young age. According to the Israeli central bureau of statistics in 2017 – 58.8% of students in academic institutions in Israel were women. We are educated, independent and driven to success. And so, for most, career is the natural choice, working outside the house, and self-realization is a very important aspect of our lives. And, alongside that, there is the oh so important value of family. In the Jewish heritage, family is sacred. It is a value as holy to us as life itself. Motherhood, is something we take as a life mission.
So how do you do the two of those, and do it well?
First thing, in the ME circle, is to let go of your guilt! It is OK, if not all is perfect! If some nights the dishes will be left in the sink, because you had to prepare a huge report for tomorrow, and it is OK, if occasionally you give your kids Pizza for dinner. It is also OK if you tell your clients or boss that you need to postpone the deadline, since your little one is sick with fever and cough, and need mommy tonight. GET READ of THE GUILT! Both ways. And set your priorities right. Priorities can change daily, weekly, monthly. As long as you know that you keep true to the most important person in this system… you.
So that was the ME circle. The 2nd circle is your partner. We Israelis’ pride ourselves for being one of the more gender equal societies in the world, when talking about the equality of the work and responsibility of home and family. So, yes. It is our men.
Most of us, are able to juggle family and career thanks to our wonderful, supportive, progressive and brave Israeli men. In Israel it is very common to see that dads are super involved in keeping the house and raising the kids. At 07.45am each morning, next to our schools, it is very common to see more dads than moms. Many families work with a weekly schedule, that has twice a week Aba stays late at work and twice a week Ima stays late at work. Men cook, do laundry, pick up and drop off and basically drive the kids around, some even go to the PTA meetings. The modern Israeli man, as masculine and as tough as he may seem, is the perfect partner for a working mom.
The 3rd circle, are our kids. We raise them to be independent, and responsible for their tasks and assignments. We teach them to work together as a team of siblings, helping each other out, and when they get a little older, they start pitching their part in little chores around the house. This raises boys and girls in an equal participation relationship and family life, and they grow up to be adults that live by the same values.
And last, but most definitely not least, is the 4th circle – the community. The first thing to know – is learn how to ask for help. Know and understand, that even though Gal Gadot is very much ours, we are not all Wonder-Women and we can’t always, do it all by ourselves. Lean on me…… says the song, so we do! On our mothers, our sisters, our neighbors, our besties, the other mommies from kinder. We each have those few people that we can call and say “Motek!! I need you. I have to pick up from kinder in like an hour and I am stuck in the office in this big meeting with clients from oversees, can you pleassse pick up my baby for me?? And I’ll come as soon as I possibly can??” And she’ll say: “SURE! Do not worry your pretty head at all!” and when you finally arrive at 18.30, your baby has eaten dinner, had a bath, in pajamas (that was borrowed from her son) and they are both having the time of their lives playing together. That is true friendship.
So, that is how we do it! It can be crazy, and hectic at times, but we won’t have it any other way!
In Our Women Box we shared with you some beautiful, pampering and fun Israeli products that every woman loves. Have fun Ladies!
Loved it? Share it!