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Posts Tagged ‘MS’

How To Avoid Shopping ‘Till You Drop

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Who doesn’t want to save money? The siren call of sales lures us all, and few are able to resist stocking up. Then, as we’re wandering the colorful aisles, we question ourselves: Do I have mustard? Are we running low on mayonnaise? So we stick it in our cart, thinking this would save us a trip. But unnecessary and duplicate items quickly clutter up valuable space in cabinets, and if the item isn’t needed to begin with, it’s money sent straight down the drain.

In my own home, I’ll admit to a never-ending supply of black olives and matza-ball mixes. In the home of a recent client, we discovered no less then four open boxes of dark brown sugar and three open containers of confectionary sugar. In another home, I pulled out four open bags of shredded mozzarella cheese from various sections in the refrigerator.

All the above scenarios could easily be avoided by one well-known, easy habit: keeping a shopping list. As my wise sister always says, if you don’t already know what it is, then you don’t need it. Sales aren’t necessarily a sale. They are but a decoy to get you to spend more then you planned. Buy what’s on your list, and you will have bought what you really wanted and needed.

So how to keep a list? I keep a current list on both my fridge and as a memo in my phone. This way, when my husband is out shopping and has forgotten the list at home, I can easily text him what I need.

Keep the list updated by adding staples when you’re running low, but before you run out, i.e. flour, sugar, barley, and the ingredients in the recipes you plan on making that week. I buy duplicates of staples that run out quickly such as milk, cheese, eggs, bread, cleaning supplies etc. and buy another set when I’m down to one.

When there is a sale on items you do use on a regular basis, buy just one extra. I guarantee the sale will come around again.

Oh, and Costco? It’s the devil. I know it’s tempting to buy the trillion gallon jug of olive oil, and the box of granola bars that will keep you in a steady supply until 2015, but few people have the storage space for such large quantities of food, and most often, by the time you’re half way done, the food has either gone bad, or you’ve gotten sick of it. If you don’t have room to store an item, then resist buying it. I will admit that Costco does have a lovely selection of produce. So if you have a large family who can actually finish six heads of lettuce within a week’s time, Costco could be a good choice for that.

In my opinion, the best way to save money is just not to shop. Make the most of each shopping trip by buying only what you really need. The less often you walk into a store, the less money is leaving your wallet and the less time you spend on this time consuming chore, leaving more time for other, more fun activities, like cooking.

This leads us to another, well known, timesaving tool. Freezing. Many people groan at the idea of freezing, preferring freshly baked goods and a steaming hot brisket straight from the oven. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of a leisurely Friday or days before Yom Tov to cook and bake, then by all means, do what makes you happy. But if you’re like most women I know, who are struggling to balance work and family, then let’s bite the bullet and say in a loud clear voice: I can’t do everything!

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t particularly enjoy being stuck in the kitchen, chopping and stirring. As a working mom, with Shabbos every week, and Yom Tov seemingly always around the corner, doubling recipes and freezing extras is the perfect way to add more time into my busy schedule.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way through trial and error:

The first time I make a recipe, I leave the cookbook out on the counter until I see how it came out, in terms of too sweet, salty, family preference, labor intensive etc. Then, I immediately make a notation next to the recipe to remind myself for future attempts.

Some foods freeze better then others, i.e. chicken, meats, cakes, bread and soups, though many experienced balabustas swear that everything can be frozen. I’ll never forget my sister-in-law’s boast that she made the entire Succos in the summer, including stir-fried vegetables and apple cobbler.

Once I have found a successful recipe, I make doubles of it and freeze half right away. The food does not have to cool off before going into the freezer, though you would save money on your electrical bill by waiting a bit.

How To Make Mornings A Pleasure

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Ahh, the mornings. A time of peace and serenity, for sipping a cup of coffee while catching up on the morning news. Or perhaps you use the time to bake fresh healthy cookies for the family’s midday snack. However, if your mornings are better described as rush hour compounded by nagging warnings, here are a few handy steps to create a stress free routine.

1. Morning routines start, ironically, at night. When the children come home from school, go through their backpacks and prepare whatever needs to be brought in for the next day. The kids should place their jackets, backpacks and shoes in the same spot every day. This area should be accessible to them, with hooks, a shelf or a bench. If you come home after your children, check their backpacks then. Make sure whoever is with them until you come home abides by a set schedule of homework, dinner and baths, so that you can put your children to sleep.

Mothers who pick up their children at the babysitter’s towards evening might face a special challenge. If it’s at all possible, do everything you can to avoid that extra stress. What works for my family – on the days I work late, I employ two babysitters, one to watch my son during the day at her home and the second to pick up my daughter from school and bring them both home. The cost of the two babysitters is only slightly more expensive then one, but well worth it in terms of the anxiety it saves.

If the situation cannot be avoided, then upon arriving home, make sure the children abide by a healthy sleeping schedule. Growing children need between 11 and 12 hours of sleep – every night. That’s why letting them stay up late so they can spend time with Mommy or Tatty is debilitating. A better idea, according to Dina Friedman, from the illuminating parenting course Chan0ch Lnaar, is staggering bedtimes so that each child can spend 10 minutes alone with Mommy or Daddy before bed – doing something enjoyable and going over their day. In physiological terms, this qualifies as sufficient quality time.

2. Prepare mitzvah notes, tzedakah, snacks and the like while cleaning up after dinner. Children over the age of four can prepare their own snacks and lunches.

3. Get enough sleep. I cannot stress how vital adequate sleep is. Without proper sleep hygiene, nobody can, or could possible be expected to, function. Give yourself a bedtime, just as you do for the kids, and keep to it within the half hour. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, try these tips:

Minimize screen time such as computer or TV an hour before bedtime.

Use your bed only as a place for sleeping, not reading or chatting on the phone.

Take a hot shower or bath close to bedtime.

Don’t toss and turn in bed. After 15 minutes, get out of bed and try again in another 15 minutes.

If you have a newborn, make up interrupted sleep with daytime naps. This is a priority that takes precedence over any amount of dishes stacked in the sink. This point is so crucial that it bears repeating: without adequate amount of sleep, you cannot function the next day. So get the sleep you need!

4. Set out a complete outfit, including shoes, underwear, hair accessories, yarmulkahs, tzizit etc. for everyone the night before. I like to set out clothes for the week every Sunday night, but if you don’t have the space to lay out that much clothes, the night before is sufficient. We usually do it right before bedtime, so my daughter can add her input. She then just pulls out the outfit she wants to wear the next morning and gets dressed without needing any further prodding.

6. Wake up half an hour before the kids so that you can get yourself together before everyone else wakes up. With proper sleep habits, this should be a cinch.

7. Wake up your children about an hour before the bus, car pool etc. All children over the age of four should be dressed and washed, by themselves, before coming into the kitchen for breakfast. Make it easy for them by laying out toothbrushes, toothpaste and hairbrushes in easy reach, and keep a stool in the bathroom for easy access to the sink. I’m sure many mothers will scoff at the notion of their kids being so well trained, but I guarantee you, if no breakfast is served until everyone is dressed, it will be just a couple of mornings of stubbornness before this efficient habit is established.

8. Avoid distractions such as reading books, coloring, or playing with toys, by using the when/then method. When they are dressed, then they can play for a specified amount of time. Show little kids on a clock how much time they have to play.

How To Clean Your House In Seven Days Or Less

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

When I was first married, a good friend invited us over for Shabbos. Nechuma works multiple jobs, has six children, and always produces the most lavish Shabbos and Yom Tov meals. When I asked her what her trick was, she told me: “A house always looks nice as long as it is clean.”  I took her words to heart, and now, with my own growing family, a full time job and numerous social obligations, I manage to keep my house clean and presentable without the help of a cleaning lady.

How is this possible you ask? It’s simple. I have a cleaning schedule and I stick with it.

On Motzei Shabbos I clean up from Shabbos – polish the silver if necessary, load the dishwasher, and change my linen. On Sunday, I clean all the bedrooms, the upstairs bathroom, vacuum and empty the dishwasher. Wednesday is for cleaning the living room, dining, mudroom and shopping for groceries for Shabbos. If time allows, I also put up the soup. On Thursday I cook for Shabbos. On Friday, I set the table, clean the kitchen and bathroom and change the kids’ linen.

This schedule works for me – based on my work schedule and other responsibilities. Some days I don’t get to a specific task, so I give myself two days to do each chore. This schedule only works if I maintain my daily general clean up: do at least one load of laundry, fold clothes and iron as necessary, clean up after breakfast and dinner, and prepare for the morrow. One of my pet peeves is a dirty bathroom, so I keep cleaning supplies near each bathroom and clean them every other day or so.

To figure out a schedule that works for you, take into account your own household needs and preferences. Write down what needs to be done minimally once a day, once a week, and once a month. Then, if you have time or extra help, keep a list of things (sort baby clothes, go through toys etc.) that are waiting to be done and tackle them. Look for shortcuts wherever possible: keep multiple sets of cleaning supplies near easily dirtied areas and if you don’t have a dishwasher, consider using paper, even on Shabbos. Have three or four hampers (whites, darks, towels and dry cleaning) set up in one room – spray stains before the clothes go into the hampers and teach your kids to separate and spray their own clothes.

Don’t forget, there are other people who live in the house with you – so delegate as much as possible. Although it may seem easier to do a job yourself then ask your husband to do it, persistent reminders will eventually get the job done. I like to send a daily text – “passports plz” – until the deed is done. It took two months, but eventually, our passports were renewed.

Get kids in action! Use when/then incentives. For example, when all the toys are picked up, then we can go play outside. Children as young as eighteen months old can be taught to put toys away and put dishes in the sink. My nineteen-month-old son can wipe up his own messes (with help, of course). My four-year-old can set the table and put away clean dishes from the dishwasher.  She also makes her own bed and puts away her clothes. When giving children a task to complete, clean with them and lavish tremendous amounts of positive reinforcement such as hugs, kisses, profuse thanks and articulating how much nicer the room looks now that there is so much room to play.

My daughter has this habit of sending me out of the room to “make me a surprise.” She puts away all the items that are out, makes beds, folds pajamas and fixes whatever else needs straightening. All this from the tender age of three and half! When I asked my sister, a therapist, if this OCD-like behavior was something I should be concerned about, she asked me what my reaction is after the surprise. “Well” I said, “I swing her around in a huge hug, we do a clean-up dance, everyone claps for her, and she gets a treat.”

“In that case” my sister said, “her behavior is perfectly normal based on your reaction, because you encourage it with positive reinforcement.”

Apparently, kids will do anything for attention!

As the Marvelous Midos Machine DVD playing on repeat in my house sings, “Don’t push off for tomorrow what you can do today.” Every night, before retiring for some much needed relaxation, look around and see if there is one more task you can do in five minutes or less, such as cleaning the stove or washing the dishes. Five minutes here, and another five minutes there, and before you know it, your house is clean.

The Fear Of Abandonment: Children In Crisis (Part III)

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In my last article I had mentioned that often one of the symptoms of autophobia, a fear of abandonment, is that as adults people suffering with this condition may become extremely sensitive to rejection.

This week I would like to focus on adolescents and what occurs when they suffer from autophobia. Adolescents who feel they have been abandoned can become traumatized.

The human nervous system is designed to be finely attuned to danger, and to recognize safety. Yet when children have experienced abandonment, as adults their nervous system can be stuck in the “on” position, constantly responding to fears that no longer exist in their relationship. Abandonment is one of the many fears that trigger danger to the brain, and there is no deeper fear in the human experience than the fear of being abandoned.

We see this in infants, as they begin to explore their new world. They will experience a separation anxiety whenever they are separated from a parent, their attachment figure. As they begin to explore their new world they will often check back to see if a parent or a significant care giver is in sight. If they should lose sight of a parent, their attachment figure, they will no longer feel safe and they will start to cry, terrified to be left alone.

For a child the feeling that someone will always be there, even when they can’t be seen, is a crucial part of any developmental stage. We call this feeling “Object Consistency.”

A lack of object consistency is the inability to remember that people or objects are consistent, trustworthy and reliable. Should this happen in adolescents, then the nervous system can be stuck in the “on” position alerting the neo-cortex that regulates the brain that something is wrong, and to be on the look out for abandonment. The message the brain sends is that you are no longer safe! Find another attachment figure as soon as possible.

When the teenager no longer feels safe, he internally starts to cry, terrified to be alone. The objective consistency connection has been detached, and as with anyone in a crisis their equilibrium does not function as it should. In plain English, this means the teenager can not make rational decisions, and reaches out to anyone who will listen. They look for someone reliable whom they can trust – but who is that person? This need to reach out can cause them to form unhealthy relationships with the wrong people – predators on the street who will take advantage of their innocence. These children will become vulnerable to anyone or anything that will make them feel happy again. We have learned to refer to them as teens at risk, but in reality they are children in crisis.

Case 1: The eighth grade yeshiva boy/girl who looks forward to going to the high school of the school they have been attending since early elementary school. They have developed an Object Consistency, with the principal, teachers, staff, and friends. Then they are told they are not welcome and to please continue their education somewhere else. The child seeks out another school but is not accepted. Often the reason is, “Why should we accept someone who was not accepted by their own school?”

Case 2: The school s/he attended has no high school, and his/her report card is not up to the standard of most high schools, so the only school that has said yes is one considered to be an “alternative” high school.

Case 3: The child is not adjusting well in the high school s/he is presently attending. The administration feels his/her attitude will affect the other students in a negative ways and the child is asked to leave.

In all three cases the fear of abandonment is about to take place. The child’s positive attachment figures, and object consistency with the school no longer exists.

Solution: With professional supervision have teenagers who are role models act as mentors to other teenagers vs. having those on the street doing so. With professional supervision these teenagers can stay in school and stay connected.

Please contact me for more information on how to start a mentorship program or become a teen mentor.

Moishe Herskowitz, MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz is a Graduate School Professor at the Touro College Mental Health Program. To discuss topics from an article, or ask questions, he can be contacted at CPCMoishe@aol.com or 718-435-7388. 

The Fear Of Abandonment: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (Part II)

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

In part one (Family Issues 04-29-2011) we mentioned that often a symptom of the anxiety disorder, the fear of abandonment, is a strong need to be in control. That is because the person suffering from the disorder has lost someone in their past – due to separation, divorce or death – and may unconsciously blame themselves for the desertion.

The insecurity associated with the fear of abandonment can ruin relationships, and prevent an individual from living a normal married life. In general the abandonment issues begin in childhood, possibly when a child/teenager loses one or possibly both parents. However, even in cases where both parents are alive and lived with the family, the child may not have gotten the emotional support, love, guidance and care that is necessary for healthy development. As a result, the child may be left with feelings of abandonment. As these children grow up, they become extremely sensitive to rejection. People with this disorder often misinterpret even innocent comments or actions and interpret them as rejection. For example: a person choosing to spend time with his or her friends instead of the spouse – this could be perceived as abandonment. Another example: if a spouse stays out late and forgets to call, the partner, who suffers from fear of abandonment, may move into a whole other level of fear.

If these feelings continue to linger, as they often do, the event will be etched into the portion of the mind that is sensitive to the feeling of abandonment, until the anxiety sufferer will begin to question the viability of the relationship. As this process begins, the one who perceives being abandoned will start to feel unloved and unworthy, and can begin to get angry. The afflicted partner may start to get very controlling in an attempt to save him or herself and the relationship. Sufferers may start to smother their partners to the point where they become jealous if he/she spends free time with anyone else.

People with this disorder fear that their partner will not be dependent upon them, and will leave them to be abandoned once again, as they were in childhood. At times they may feel that in the end people will always let them down, and with these thoughts they can justify why they live defensively, and end relationships prematurely. This also means that they will be constantly on the lookout for signs and proof that they are right, even if they are truly not.

What is fascinating is how Hashem sets up the healing process: the individual with abandonment issues will often marry someone with a need for independence. As a result, he or she will be forced to face and work through these childhood issues. At first he or she may not even be aware of the abandonment fears because the mind will keep the feeling in the unconscious portions of cognition, so that the relationship can progress. In time, and sometimes right after sheva brachos, the one who is prone to feelings of abandonment will begin to react to signs of independence from their partner, fearing being left.

The problems begin as sufferers become emotionally blind-sighted by their own oversensitivity, and don’t realize how they have begun to smother their partners. This, in essence, creates self-fulfilling prophecies or self-projection. While self-projecting, people paint a picture of what they see happening in the future, which may then materialize because they already expect that scenario to occur. In this case, people self-projecting assume their needs will not be met, and then the other spouse will fail to provide the emotional support needed.

This was the case for Raizy & Yoni. Soon after the wedding Yoni made it clear that Raizy must listen to Yoni and not her family anymore. He explained that he is looking out for her best interest – not her family – and that as long as she listens to him everything will be fine. Yoni had been abandoned in early childhood, yet he was not aware that he needed to work out his many abandonment issues. He was also not aware that Hashem creates situations where two incompatible people meet for the purpose of healing. That is why when Raizy opposed some of Yoni’s requests, he thought he needed to end the marriage. Yoni could not comprehend that Raizy also had needs and one of them was to be self-sufficient. Somehow Yoni perceived her need for independence as her family’s interference and felt it would only be a matter of time before Raizy would leave him. These feelings caused Yoni to become more needy and clingy, which in turn caused Raizy to pull away and defend her needs to be self-sufficient and independent. The opposition threatened Yoni more and caused him to become more attached. When Raizy felt stifled she stayed out late and didn’t bother to call.

The Fear Of Abandonment (Part I)

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The fear of abandonment, also known as autophobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by an acute fear of being alone. Often, one of the symptoms of this particular anxiety is a strong need to be in control. This is because one has previously lost someone close through separation, divorce or death and may unconsciously blames his or herself for the event. When this happens, any type of separation may traumatize the person, even the marriage of his or her own child can be viewed as a life-threatening event.

Many years ago, my brother, who is an attorney, shared the following situation with me. A woman had recently lost her husband and needed an attorney to handle all the financial and legal ramifications of her case. The woman was a Holocaust survivor, like our parents. She had come to his office accompanied by her single daughter, who was very bright and extremely personable. Her daughter was caring, thoughtful and patient as she spoke on her mother’s behalf.

Sol was very impressed by the dynamics of their mother-daughter relationship, and with the young lady herself, so much so that he felt it would be a great idea to set me up with her.

He asked the mother if the daughter would be interested in meeting his brother who is also single, personable and interested in getting married. The mother’s immediate response was, “I am sure your brother would not be interested in my daughter since she recently had a nervous breakdown.”

Needless to say, Sol’s reaction was one of shock and disbelief that anyone, especially a person’s own mother, would share this type of personal information so readily.

It’s seemed to him that she was trying to sabotage her daughter’s chances of ever getting married, and for the most part he was correct. She loved her daughter very much, and as with all Holocaust survivors, her daughter was her purpose for living.

The thought of being alone, however, and losing another intimate attachment was too frightening.

As part of the life cycle, as with all intimate attachments, sooner or later there will be some sort of separation. When children marry, this too is a process of intimate separation, but with family support everyone adjusts. If parents have experienced separation as a positive experience, then the adjustment is less intense. For others who have autophobia and have been faced with previous loss, as with Holocaust survivors, this separation event can become a very crippling experience. A child getting married can cause a state of extreme vulnerability with loss of control. The fear of abandonment leaves them feeling pain and rejection – and it can affect the ability to make proper decisions.

For this, and other reasons, it is important to have the support of a rav or mentor to help us think rationally through these most difficult and yet, joyous times.

Moishe Herskowitz, MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz is a Graduate School Professor at the Touro College Mental Health Program. To discuss topics from an article, or ask questions, he can be contacted at CPCMoishe@aol.com or 718-435-7388.

Children of Shame

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Children who grew up feeling shameful for the most part will have also grown up without someone to talk to about how it made them feel.
Shame is one of the most destructive feelings there is. It is a feeling that something is wrong within us and has a negative affect on a child’s self-development.
These children have had no voice with which to express themselves, and even if they did there was no one who would listen. So, as a survival strategy, they learned at a very young age to disconnect their anger, hurt, fear and pain.  They learned how to build walls around themselves so they can feel safe. These survival strategies are a good thing – in fact they are brilliant! Without them these children would not be able to function developmentally as children or as adults.   This wall gives them hope – hope that one day in the future – they will marry and find some one who will listen and connect with them. Logically this sounds great.  However, there is a problem.  These children have programmed their brains to disconnect.
Symptomatically similar to someone who is going through Post Traumatic Stress, the brain of a child who feels shame will temporary disconnect the pain until a later date, when it feels safe. When the connection with another person is made and he or she does feel safe, sadly the pain, anger and hurt will return. These children, when they become adults, have been disconnected for a very long time.  In fact, they have forgotten how to feel safe and how to let their walls come down. Shame involves a fear of being exposed, and if these walls come down, that’s what would happen – they and their feelings would be exposed.  It is at this point that their unconscious mind will go on Red Alert, shouting Danger! Danger! You’re getting much too close, shut down now and please evacuate immediately!
This is why couples often tell me that, “The closer we get the more we fight.” These adults are emotionally trapped and angry because these walls are no longer working for them and they don’t know how to cope.  What is happening is that they end up pushing away and hurting the very people they are trying to connect with – those they love.  This causes them intense pain – and there is nowhere to hide from it.
Many adults in this situation find themselves at a crossroads in their relationships – between staying and leaving.  When we are dealing with a married couple, for the most part, they don’t want to end the marriage, just the pain. However, because they perceive the connection as a threat, some will choose divorce as a means to an end.
 Such was the case for Yoni and Shifra, a young newlywed couple.  Her husband recalls that, “soon after the wedding she started to withdraw. The closer I got the more she would distance herself. It’s the strangest thing, when we dated there were not enough hours in a day to be with each other. Now she finds fault with everything I do.  She will find all kinds of excuses to leave the house and if I confront her with it she wants to end the relationship.”
When couples arrive at my office they wonder if they will ever feel safe with each other. They often say, “lets cut our losses and get divorced”, but that’s not the answer.  The answer is that if the brain had been programmed to disconnect, it can be programmed to reconnect. Hashem created human beings to be dependant on each other and with that dependency comes the process of healing and love. In fact pain and conflict arise not out of lack of love for our partners, but from a misunderstanding of what a true love relationship is all about.
When a person learns how to love their partner the way they want to be loved, they begin to feel more connected and understood. They find that issues and problems they once argued about seem to resolve themselves.

 

Moishe Herskowitz, MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz is a Graduate School Professor at the Touro College Mental Health Program. To discuss topics from an article, or ask questions, he can be contacted at CPCMoishe@aol.com or 718-435-7388.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/children-of-shame/2011/02/03/

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