We recently had the opportunity to partner with CEO & President of Spirituality for Kids (SFK), Michal Berg, whose nonprofit organization is helping serve children, parents, and professionals all around the world. Learn more about her organization and journey through our Q&A below.
Q: What are you doing differently, or how have you adjusted your program to adapt in the COVID-19 world?
A: SFK courses were always available as online self-paced courses. When quarantine started, many parents that otherwise didn’t feel they had the time, enrolled in the kids’ online courses and our parenting course. We offered a significant discount for all our programs between 35%-75% besides our ongoing scholarship program, where we provide financial assistance to anyone who requires it. We also launched a FREE Daily Tune-In inspirational email and a weekly Family Activity to help parents and caregivers navigate these trying times.
Q: SFK offers online courses for both children and parents to do in their home, which is crucial in today’s environment. What are some courses children and parents can sign-up for, and what can they expect to learn in those courses?
A: Our award-winning online Spiritual Social-Emotional Education Program includes two learning levels: Winning in the Game of Life™ and Exploring the Journey of Life™ are suitable for children 8-12 years old. Children learn how to manage their emotions, boost their confidence, ignite their compassion, and understand cause and effect, the power of their words, among many other concepts through engaging videos and characters, fun activities, art projects, and journaling.
Our Parenting course, Parenting the soul, takes parents on a personal journey to discover their parenting manual within and offers insights and easy, practical tools on how to best support their children while practicing self-love and self-care. You can learn more about our courses at https://courses.sfk.org/.
Q: What things as a mother to 5 children (hold for applause) have you learned that you have carried over to your SFK work?
A: One of the greatest lessons I learned as a parent to many children is that it is not all up to me. Each child is so different – how they experience life, how they react to situations, what they believe about themselves, and their level of consciousness. And my primary role is to love and support them, to my best ability, on their unique journey. Their successes are not mine, as well as their failures. As parents, we tend to take everything personally, learning to set ourselves free from that mindset, not only makes our lives more peaceful but also giving the necessary space for our children to be and evolve.
Q: For those families who already have busy schedules and are unable to attend courses, how can they still give back and support SFK? (hint: DONATE)
A: SFK is a 501(c)3 educational non for profit organization with an international reach with our outreach initiatives in more than 21 countries outside the US and scholarships. You can help by donating at https://sfk.org/donate/.
I have a confession. I’m one of those maniacally organized people who, in spite of a demanding job and two little ones, cannot sleep when the house hasn’t been returned to order. My house is organized. There. I admit it. My containers match, I fastidiously use a label maker and you know what, I love a good surface wipe. But, even though my house is pretty organized most of the time, I still get that urge to turn the place upside down and go all Container Store on it every April. Why?! Trust me, I do not need another single thing to do. And, every year when I’m knee deep in a pile of stuff while both of my kids nap (I know what’s WRONG with me) I think – WHY?! Why do I feel compelled, driven even, to participate in full blown spring cleaning whenever the tulips pop?
Turns out there are strong cultural roots pulling us towards trashing our homes only to immediately set them right again when the sun starts shining. This practice is shared around the world, supported by biology and part of deep rooted American traditions. In the Jewish faith the house is rigorously cleaned in anticipation of Passover and Christian faiths suggest various cleaning rituals starting on lent and throughout the days leading up to Easter. Iranian New Year, Nowruz, falls on the first day of spring and dictates a thorough house cleaning too. For the agnostic among us, longer, sunnier days mean less melatonin fogging our brains, and less melatonin means more available energy. And for the history buffs, during the long winter frontier families’ homes would become covered with soot from the fires used for cooking and heat.
When the weather was finally warm enough to open the windows these homes got a through scrub down to remove that soot layer.
Now that I’m convinced spring cleaning isn’t just me killing time I don’t have, I’m going to break down how you can make it happen this spring in spite of all of the other things demanding your time and attention (because you know you want to…).
Set Your Goals Pick one or two priority areas that need your attention the most and define your goals for the space. For example, if you chose your entryway, your goal might be getting out the door in the morning faster. If you’ve chosen your kids toy room, maybe your goal is to bring older toys to light again. By defining your goal you will automatically align your actions with your desired end result.
Out, Sort, Distribute – Repeat Pull everything out of the space you’ve chosen and set it out so you can see as much of it as possible. Sort your belongings into 3 piles, Keep, Donate, Lives Elsewhere. Organize the Keep pile in a way that supports your goal. Ferry the Lives Elsewhere stuff to its rightful home and drop those donations off early in the season so those who need them most can take advantage of your generosity.
Keep It Simple If you have a bunch of time on your hands, sure, go full on Marie Kondo, but if you have limited time and competing priorities what sparks joy for you might be getting that one cabinet in order so you don’t have sippy cups raining down upon you every time you open it. And you know what? That totally counts. Keep it simple and do what works for you.
Our team of expert, skilled and savvy GYST Assistants had a few things to say on the topic too. GYST Assistants are excellent spring cleaning partners and even better than doing it yourself is delegating to an expert. GYST Assistants will help you set up organizational systems that are efficient, effective and easy to maintain and Bell Family Company families enjoy exclusive access to GYST Assistants on a project basis. Give us a call at (917) 912-9206 or say [email protected] to learn more. Our goal is to set our clients free to focus on what matters most.
About GYST GYST sources, selects, educates and retains top personal and executive assistants and offers clients a flexible, high level assistant experience in a program optimized for long term success. Learn more at www.gystplease.com.
A special thanks to Brooke Stone, Founder and CEO of GYST, who shared her exploration of spring cleaning, organization tips and advice from GYST Assistants.
We recently partnered up with Carly Snyder, M.D., who specializes in comprehensive reproductive health care and makes it her mission to help moms feel empowered and achieve life balance. Read below for our Q&A to learn more about Carly and her wonderful work with women’s health.
Q: What is your approach to help mothers optimize the body and mind pre- and post-birth? Are there certain services you provide that you find most beneficial for new moms?
A: The changes that occur in life from conception through baby’s first year of life are astronomical, and the impact of these changes on a woman’s sense of self is similarly huge. I spend a lot of time talking to my patients while they are still pregnant about identity and ways to incorporate their new identity as a mom into their current self, rather than feeling as if they are losing part of themselves with the arrival of their baby. I also work with women a lot on ways to feel proud and to own their changing bodies.
We focus a lot on living in the moment with a woman’s partner during pregnancy and enjoying the time until baby comes as a couple, appreciating one another and strengthening the relationship and continuing to function as a couple once baby arrives in addition to acting as co-parents. Too often after having a baby, couples transition to being parents and intimacy goes out the window. It is imperative that a strong bond be nurtured during pregnancy and then be reinforced after baby’s birth by having date nights and baby-free conversations. Pre-planning these date nights in advance, setting up a schedule with baby sitters lined up on a regular basis, establishes that the relationship remains important even after baby has arrived.
My patients and I also work hard on communication, speaking up about how a woman feels in the moment and making her needs known. During pregnancy and especially after the birth of a baby, new moms can feel as if their needs are secondary to their babies, but it is incredibly important that women feel empowered to speak up for themselves and to talk about their feelings and their needs openly. We explore what barriers they may have to opening up with loved ones about their experiences and then how to surmount these barriers so that open communication can occur freely going forward.
Another area that I focus on with my patients is making a sleep schedule during pregnancy for once the baby arrives to ensure that mom continues to get adequate rest. Whether mom is breast or bottle feeding, it is imperative that she sleeps at least six hours a night and ideally that she has can have uninterrupted sleep of three or more hours at a time. Moms are already exhausted as a result of labor and delivery when they leave the hospital with a newborn, and our country has no established supports in place to help new moms, so we must pre-plan to ensure that mom does not have to face feeding a baby every 2-3 hours every night on her own from day one onwards. This is only possible if mom has supports in place in advance, be it her partner, a family member, a postpartum doula or a baby nurse. A plan must be set up before baby arrives because otherwise mom will take on the full responsibility, and then she will undoubtably become exhausted and this can steam roll into feelings of sadness and a sense of being overwhelmed very quickly.
I also spend a lot of time discussing what are ‘normal and expected’ levels of anxiety and tearfulness during and after pregnancy, and at what point symptoms can be considered more significant and would warrant treatment, perhaps with more intense therapy, or with medication or with an increase in dose of medication if a woman is already taking something. Pregnancy is inherently anxiety inducing, and so is having a newborn. It is expected that new parents will be scared at times and will feel overwhelmed. At the same time, it is also important that women are able to control their anxiety and not feel that their anxiety or moments of sadness are engulfing them or taking over their lives. Parenthood will forever be scary because we love our children more than anything but cannot protect them from the outside world. We need to be able to compartmentalize our fears rather than allow the fears to control us because living in such a state of terror is not good for us or for our children.
Q: Why is it so important for mothers to focus on their mental health throughout the child bearing process?
A: Mom deserves to enjoy her pregnancy and the postpartum period as much as possible and this is impossible while struggling with a Perinatal Mood and/or Anxiety Disorder (PMAD). Mom’s mental health is intimately connected to her baby’s physical and emotional health both during and after pregnancy. Research consistently demonstrates that mom’s emotional state impacts her growing fetus and that feeling consistently severely anxious and/or depressed during pregnancy can have negative implications for a baby in the short and long run. Similarly, having a postpartum mood disorder is hard not just for mom, but also for everyone in the family.
Q: Tell us about your radio show, MD for Moms. What can listeners expect to hear and learn from tuning in each week, and how can listeners tune in?
A: MD for Moms is a show dedicated to helping women enjoy life more, to maximizing health and wellness and to improving women’s relationships with themselves and with others. For the last year and a half I have focused on what I call my “Mama Docs On Call” Series where I introduce my listeners to physicians who are also moms, like me, and they are on the show to provide information and support geared to moms and their families. We discuss topics ranging from women’s health and wellness issues to child-related concerns. It’s really a conversation between myself and a leader in a field of medicine, and listeners are invited to call in live with their questions throughout the show. For example, some recent shows included one with an OBGYN who answered every GYN question we all have but never remember or want to ask during our annual appointments, another show was with a pediatrician who is also a Lactation Consultant and we discussed breast feeding; another show was with an ER pediatrician who has taken on a special interest in keeping kids safe on-line, and we did a two part series on how to keep kids safe on social media… upcoming shows include a discussion on autoimmune diseases and fatigue, on childhood headaches, infertility, having a baby in the NICU, and so much more. The show is booked all the way through the new year and beyond – it is really exciting. Each week I post the upcoming show information on my blog as well as on social media. The shows air live on the BBM Global Network (on the internet), on TuneIn and iHeart Radio at 1pm ET every Wednesday or you can listen to it as a podcast. Just search for MD for Moms on iTunes podcasts and there are about 115 or so shows available for download.