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Ms. Yoshei, a hydrotherapist, uses lights together with water as she treats an autistic child in a swimming pool. She leaves work at 3:30 to pick up her girls and be with them at home.

Heidi Levine/Sipa Press

Yael Yoshei, Tel Aviv: "This is already a very stressed country."

34 hours of work, $500 a week

The life: The 36-year-old lives in a suburb called Quiryat Ono with her partner, Yaniv Keren, and their two seven-year-old girls (from previous marriages).

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The work: Ms. Yoshei works Sunday to Thursday as a hydrotherapist at a centre for disabled children, a 40-minute drive from her home.

The pay: About $2,000-$2,400 a month (depending on opportunities to lecture in her field), and her partner, a graduate student in information technology, has three part-time jobs. Together they earn enough for a tiny apartment in a fourplex. Each girl has her own room, but she and Mr. Keren sleep in the vestibule. Fortunately, the weather is warm most of the year, so the family can eat, play and socialize mostly outdoors. Good thing, because that's where they keep the fridge.

The grind: Up at 6 a.m., Ms. Yoshei makes the school lunches (today it's grilled cheese). "That's my job in the morning," says the ultra-organized former kibbutznik, "lunches and hair."

After a light breakfast (Mr. Keren's morning chore), she drives the girls, along with a neighbour's twins, to school - it's not yet 7:30 - then it's on to work.

Within 15 minutes of arrival, she is in a pool with six-year-old Netta, an autistic child. Ms. Yoshei spends about 10 of her working hours each week in the water. The rest of the time she is co-ordinating the hydrotherapy program at her centre and others in Israel.

She leaves work at 3:30 to pick up her girls and be with them at home. To save time, she orders groceries online.

Evenings are spent at activities with the girls - dance class, swimming - and preparing for the next day. The family has no TV, only a monitor for watching occasional movies. The girls are in bed at 8:30, and read to themselves.

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Ms. Yoshei spends the next two or three hours cleaning up, folding clothes and going online. "If I watch a movie, I'll only fall asleep," she says. It's lights out between 10:30 and midnight.

The down time: At 6 a.m., she nurses a cup of coffee on the terrace for 15 minutes. "It's the only time of day I have to myself."

Saturdays are for "washing the car, painting my toenails … and visiting with family."

The work-life balance: "Sometimes I feel guilty about not spending more time with the girls," she says in her office. "But then I realize there are some other kids who need me here, too."

Compared to Canada: Ms. Yoshei thinks it's natural to try to do everything she does. "This is already a very stressed country," she points out.

What she'd change: "I wish I had just a little more time for myself, to read a book or go for a walk with friends. Oh, and I wish I didn't end up every night too tired to stand on my feet."

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About the Author
Global Affairs reporter

As Global Affairs Writer, Patrick Martin’s primary focus is on the turbulent Middle East, to which he travels regularly. He has twice been posted to the region – from 1991-95 and from 2008-12. More

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