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Women take part in Chai Lifeline/Jewish Women’s Foundation of Broward respite program.

Motherhood is often referred to as the hardest job in the world. For families thrown into the nightmare of pediatric illness, normal feelings of anxiety and worry become a daily reality. On Sunday, May 6, 20 mothers of seriously ill children exchanged the daily fear they experience for fun, connection, and friendship at a day “Just for Us” at Tigertail Lake in Dania, Florida.

The daylong experience was part of Seasons of Respite, a series of four workshops designed to give mothers of sick children the tools to take better care of themselves. Sunday’s session, billed as “A Day Just for Us,” offered mothers a chance to test their physical endurance in a fun, safe environment, and offered practical suggestions for mirroring these activities into their challenging and demanding realities. The program is co-sponsored by Chai Lifeline and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Broward County.

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“The challenge of climbing the rock wall gave me a small insight into how our kids are challenged every day,” one mother explained.

“When a child is very sick, mothers often assumes full-time care-giving responsibilities in addition to caring for the rest of her family, and sometimes, working outside the home as well. They feel they have no time for themselves, exacerbating already considerable stress levels,” explained Ellen Weiss, director of Chai Lifeline Southeast. “Seasons of Respite are days where mothers not only relax, but learn how to help themselves even when they are harried and pressured.”

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