Carving Out Time for Our Kids
A Conversation with Gali Silbermins
Gali Silbermins doesn’t believe in the value of spending “quality time” with her kids. A parental counselor and occupational therapist, who specializes in child development, Gali says that it’s more important to consistently spend time with our children, talking to them and listening to them. The mother of three daughters — 16-year old twins and a 14-year old, a business owner, the head of the Petach Tikva Women’s Group, which mobilizes local women for volunteer opportunities throughout Israel, and an active member of the JWRP Community in Israel, Gali went on her own journey to discover how to maintain a work/life balance. In our conversation, she shares her own transformation, as well as her advice for parenting in the age of the iPhone.
What inspired you to experience the MOMentum Year-Long Journey?
It actually happened by chance! A friend invited me to an event with journalist Sivan Rahav Meir, which was hosted by the JWRP Community in Israel. When we arrived, I immediately felt a magical vibe. The room was filled with women, and there was a sense of unity and optimism in the air. I hardly knew anyone there, but I felt like it was the perfect place to be — and I knew that I wanted more of it in my life. I applied for the MOMentum Year-Long Journey, and I continue to feel that same vibe every time I get together with my sisters!
What were a few of the highlights from your MOMentum Trip?
My MOMentum Trip gave me the opportunity to experience Israel as a Jewish woman and to newly appreciate all of the blessings in my life, while surrounded by some of the best people I’ve ever met. Though I’d visited the Kotel countless times before, my experience there was especially powerful during my MOMentum Trip. I grew up without a father, and my grandfather was like a father to me. He passed away 20 years ago, and I spoke to him while at the Kotel. I told him that I missed him and I asked him to send me a sign that would let me know that everything would be okay.
Four hours later, one of my JWRP sisters approached me on the bus. Like me, she had been born in Riga, Latvia. We didn’t know each other well, but she told me that she had searched for my family on a Russian website about people who lived in Riga during the 1950s. “Your grandfather was a hero in World War II,” she said. She told me about the medal he had won and showed me my grandfather’s photo. It was a true HP (Higher Power/Hashgacha Pratit) moment!
What are your tips for parenting in the age of the iPhone?
The most important thing that you can do for your kids is to be there for them. Being there consistently is even more important than spending quality time together once in a while. Try putting your phone on mute for an hour when you’re with your children every now and then. Also, talk to your kids about your day. Tell them what happened at work. By doing this, you’ll teach your kids how to communicate. Start when they’re young. When they’re 16 and they close their doors, you’ll have a good basis for communicating. Ask them open-ended questions, like “What did you do today?” Since my MOMentum experience, my family eats Shabbat dinner together each week. During our meal, every member of our family shares something good that happened that week, something bad that happened that week, and something that they did for someone else. My kids have always looked forward to this. Remember that our children don’t learn by listening to what we try to teach them. They learn from watching what we do.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I was in a meeting when one of my daughters took her first steps. My husband called me and then texted me to let me know, but I still missed the moment. I realized then that I didn’t want to miss any more of my children’s lives. So, I reinvented myself and became a manager of my own time. In the morning, I work in a clinic. In the afternoon, I’m there for my kids when they get home from school. In the evening, I meet with my patients’ parents. I can’t maintain this balance 100% of the time, but I’m very privileged to have created this schedule for myself. In whatever way works for each one of us, I think it’s important for us to carve out time for our family. If you schedule a meeting with your boss, you can also schedule a meeting with your kids. Make them a regular part of your schedule. For example, commit to having dinner with your family on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. It will benefit everyone.