Dear Rabbi and Shira,
I made it to the finish line. When I reached the age of 19 I hit the ground running, looking for a partner to share my life with. I went to shadchanim, social events, web-sites, you name it, I did it. I always kept my eye on the prize, which was getting married and building a beautiful bayis neeman biyisrael. By the time I was 22, I crossed the finish line. I had a glittering ring on my finger and a wonderful husband to go with it.
What is the problem you might ask? I’m wiped! I am trying to juggle graduate school responsibilities and at the same time clean the house, make dinner, food shopping and spend quality time with my husband. On top of it all I am pregnant and not dealing so well with morning sickness.
With the strong societal pressure to get married, I honestly didn’t think about all the other obligations that come with marriage and I am completely overwhelmed, stumbling each morning to put one foot in front of the other. I have no time to meet up with friends or do things I use to love doing like photography and painting. I am completely out of breath and I am not sure what to do.
Finished at the Finish Line
Dear Finished at the Finish Line,
It certainly sounds like you have a lot on your plate! The expectations of modern life are overwhelming. We have so much to do, like a juggler who has several balls in the air and are afraid to drop any of them. Building that “bayis neeman biyisrael” only begins with getting married. How you build it through the day to day tasks are the brick and mortar of that construction. While discussing big goals and values are at the “top of our house,” we also have to learn how to build our home daily.
It begins with you! You must take care of yourself or you won’t be able to accomplish anything. Make sure that you are eating right and sleeping enough. Prioritize time to take care of yourself each day, doing something that you like.
Each day identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete and do those first. Once you’re done, the day has already been a success. You can move on to other things, or you can let them wait until tomorrow. You’ve finished the essential. If you like a clean home, it has to be given an actual time in your schedule. Things just don’t get miraculously clean.
You can plan by making a to do list. Regarding each task, ask yourself...
Are they Important (activities that contribute to your missions and goals in life) and urgent (things that need your immediate attention),
Not urgent (doesn’t need to happen now) but important (needs to happen)
Urgent (there’s pressure to get it done) but not important (but it’s not important to me)
or it’s neither that important or that urgent.
Urgent and Important things can’t wait. Urgent but not important must be done now. Important but not urgent, can be planned for later. Tasks that are neither can be pushed off indefinitely.
Enlist help. Talk to your husband about how you are feeling. Explain that you can’t do it all alone, and you’d like to have a weekly “staff meeting” with him to discuss what needs to be done each week. Try to rate which items are urgent and are important, and which jobs you’d like to get done. Discuss with him which tasks he can do, and when he thinks he can do them. Building a relationship is not only candlelight dinners, and romantic getaways, it’s also about working together to make your house work.
It’s important to be real. Accept that you will not be able to get everything done. You only have a finite amount of energy and time. During your lifetime, your energy will sometimes be higher or lower depending on several factors, including diet, pregnancy, age and stress. Review your list and if this item is important, or urgent, then do it. If it is it’s not urgent, it can wait.
Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack