| LifeTakes |

Looking Forward

A sparrow hopped across our path and Esti ran after it, laughing. It didn’t upset my schedule at all.

Going, doing, running, cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, folding … I always had something else to do, and whatever it was always seemed urgent.

It wasn’t just having a bunch of little kids who needed me to feed and clothe them — not to mention change them, soothe them, read to them, ferry them around, and kiss their boo-boos. It wasn’t only having teenagers who needed me to tell them that no, not everyone’s parents lets, and wow, that sounds really rough, and no, I will not finance your car ownership, or even subsidize a large percentage. It wasn’t just working with deadlines for a boss who liked to send things in at 11:00 today and tell me she needed them back at 10:00 yesterday.

It wasn’t any of those things alone, and maybe even not a combination of them all. But somehow I found myself always running on a treadmill that seemed to speed up every time I tried to get off. Forget about stopping to smell the roses, I didn’t even see them as I sped by.

But they day came when I realized I’d had enough.

“You don’t have to work harder,” a good friend advised. “You have to work smarter.”


“Take a good look at what you spend your time on, and see what you can cut. Most people think they’re spending a great deal more time accomplishing things than they actually are.”

Just because she’s a time-management consultant doesn’t mean she knows what she’s talking about, right?

Or maybe …


I took a pen and paper and wrote:

7:00 – wake up girls

7:05 – prepare sandwiches

8:30 – walk Yanky to preschool

8:45 – stop in the park with Esti

Did I have to stop in the park with Esti on our way home from Yanky’s preschool? Well, no. But that was an important part of Esti’s day, and we both enjoyed the brief interlude.

Still, as I went hour by hour, there were definitely pockets of time that I had to admit couldn’t be called productive.

Then there was tefillah, a sore point. At what point does “I don’t have time” become a synonym for, “This is not a priority in my life.” I dreamed of real davening — even if it was just 15 minutes snatched while the baby is busy with a toy or — oh, joy! — napping. I wasn’t happy with the fact that I talked to Hakadosh Baruch Hu only when I needed something. I felt like a beggar, coming with a long list of needs and reading through it as fast as I could, rather than having a real talk with my Creator.

“When you daven,” Rabbi Shkop taught, “it shouldn’t just effect you for those few moments. That morning tefillah should have an effect on the rest of your day.”

And so I went through the rest of my schedule. Did I really have to spend so much time reading the paper every day? Could I put up a load of laundry the night before so it would be ready to dry in the morning? What was the best way to encourage the kids to clean their own rooms and put away their toys and games?

Bit by bit, my days became more organized. The kids grew calmer and protested less when I asked them to pitch in. They reaped the benefits when we had time to bake together in the afternoons, and they felt like they were sneaking a privilege when they got into pajamas a few minutes early and could read in bed until lights out.

Did all this happen magically? Of course not. Did it happen every day? How I wish. Still, it happened; certainly a lot more often than it had before. And I’m quite certain that the only reason it worked at all was because I was davening Shacharis, asking Hashem every day to grant me success. Those few minutes that I “hadn’t had time for” became the catalyst for all kinds of good things.

I stopped to sniff a rose yesterday, as Esti and I walked Yanky to preschool. The kids noticed a spider swinging from its petals on a gossamer thread. We admired it for a moment then hurried on our way. A sparrow hopped across our path and Esti ran after it, laughing. It didn’t upset my schedule at all.

My youngest is getting older. Maybe I’ll work on Minchah next.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 322)

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