Now I’m Mother Goose and Knesset MK Rachel Azaria gets it.

Mother Goose figures out the way.Recently, I made a conscious decision to give up.

It was a few weeks into my return from maternity leave, talking with younger mothers at work who were looking to me for answers.

I didn’t really have many. I gave some tips, some words of advice. I thought, maybe I could just be the Mother Goose. Come under my wing for a minute, have a seat, feel unjudged. Feel vulnerable and supported. Know I don’t have the answers. I don’t have solutions. I only have some acquired, coffee-stained wisdom wrapped in my daily insane struggle to keep up. 

That goes for coworkers, for friends, for younger moms, for my kids one day – who may have it even worse.

After that, I let out a long sigh, reached into the universe, and decided to be ok with the Struggle. Because I have no choice.

I had given up the last shred of hope hunt for a working parenting life mentor and decided to be an imperfect substitute for others.

Israeli MK Rachel Azaria (JPost)And tonight, Israeli Member of Knesset Rachel Azaria verbalized why: this is generational. This is fairly new. This is indicative and caused by a few concrete reasons she could list after having done her studies on the topic of differences between our generation’s parenting styles versus our parents’.

The following are my notes from tonight’s meetup with the MK via the Ima Kadima group, an organization run by a team of local Anglo-Israeli parents working to support and campaign for working, career-oriented mothers.

Difference between how we grew up and how we’re raising kids:

  • The public space was ours vs now.
  • The food was homemade vs now.
  • More mothers took off during early years.
  • They could live off one salary, at least for a few years.
  • We work more hours today.
  • The standards became unstable, smartphones, being available at night.
  • More cars in the 90s, more traffic. Kids used to play under buildings, now they are parking lots.
  • Everyone walked to gan… less cars.
  • Food is given to kids somewhere else, so we are not in charge.

In the meeting, Azaria covered three areas she’s been working on included in the list above:

  1. Food
  2. Public spaces
  3. Time

1. ADRESSING FOOD IN TZAHARON:
Azaria has worked on the legislation to make the food given healthier.
Also in two days they will pass committee as legislature that puts the food under the national standards and jurisdiction of the health ministry.
And then next week should pass for next year’s academic year.
Note the new law about no sweets in schools, ganim.

2. PUBLIC SPACES:
Azaria is working on urban planning better organized for children.
Trying to make it better for kids to walk to school, foster independence.
That we shouldn’t have to drive our kids to school all the time.

3. TIME:
Azaria is also tackling time. Being in the workforce with young kids. Three key questions:

A. How do you give parents more time?
B. How do you make it possible for both parents to be involved with the kids?
C. Where does the government take more responsibility for the kids?

A. How do you give parents more time?

1. Azaria extended vacation days from 10-12 recently. That was a big job.

2. Trying to meet with histadrut morim. Trying to work on yemai histaglut.

B. How do you make it possible for both parents to be involved with the kids?

1. Sha’at hanaka can be split.

2. Yemai machala for kids… so parents can switch off without penalties for having to pay for taking the days off. Now it’s combined. View it based on the child and family unit and not individual employee.

What else do we need to change so we view the child and not the parent? Something to split between two working parents? Azaria wants more suggestions of legislation.

C. Where does the government take more responsibility for the kids?

1. Prices of Tzaharon

Once ganim became subsidized, the iriyot jumped the prices of tzaharon… depends on city size, less in Jerusalem. More kids, price drops. “We will only be able to combat this after the budget.”

2. Maonot yom

Next term… too big. Need too much money.

3. Maternity leave

  • Maternity leave – People want to handle it but it’s very expensive. That’s the main problem.
  • No one has thought about it in a holistic way.
  • Not just number of weeks…
  • How do you bring in fathers?
  • How do you bring in employers? They pay chafifa… there’s a lot of choser vadaut.
  • It’s hard for employers. They need to plan, not allowed to ask but need to practically ask to manage your company.
  • What if you had an in between option where you can come back partly for a phase, easing for both the employer and the employee.
  • A few days for men at the least – to build it in… it’s significantly more expensive.

Challenges: 
**Giving flextime is hard to make a policy. It has to be up to workplaces.
**Tav chavrati for family friendly workplaces… again not policy… very hard to do.
**Changing perspective of employers… and what is the incentive for them? The research exists about productive employees…
**Hatavot for employers also hard… expensive… where do you start and end?
**Big companies versus small companies – harder for small companies to work it out and they need the hatavot more than the big companies.
**Daycare at company is a good idea but doesn’t work practically unless you live next to your work. Most people want daycare close to home.
**Tamat you are in between if you make too much but not enough… also Tamat is hard to find in many places.

Fun fact:

Azaria once hired a consultant who was pregnant at the time, to the shocked reactions of colleagues at the Knesset. As if she didn’t know what that could mean.

A favorite quote:

”I don’t like legislating laws that won’t be followed.” AKA, laws without practical meaning.

Catalyst for change:

Azaria’s video campaigns are the most watched in Israeli politics – more than even the Prime Minister’s (bless him for trying). And the reason is clear: she’s addressing one of the largest struggling demographics in our country: WORKING PARENTS.

Whadya got: