My goal was to learn how to be on time in the morning. In the end, I learned how to be on time for Shabbos too.
My Shabbos Solution
This summer, while working with a life coach, I learned how to better manage Fridays. As you can imagine, I used to always be busy until candle-lighting, often beyond. Last minute guests? Come on over! I’ll prepare a couple new dishes, no prob. Neighbor’s daughter got engaged two hours before Shabbos? Let’s make a flower arrangement for her to say Mazel Tov! Silver needs polishing? Let’s make it shiny right now, I’ll still have plenty of time to straighten up afterwards. I always seemed to feel I had more time than I did.
And while I can’t be one of those who are ready at chatzot, that’s simply not practical, I instituted a new rule with the help of my life coach. I can finish things after 12:00 p.m., but I can’t start anything new. Sure, I can fold the load of laundry that finishes in the dryer. But I can’t put in a new load. I can slice the meat or roll the cookie dough into balls and bake, but I can’t spontaneously say “Let’s bake another cake” or “Make an extra side dish.” Finish projects but no new projects. A last minute guest is welcome, sure, but whatever I cooked will do!
My Back Story
I come from a long line of creative, spontaneous, and fun people. My mom was the best; it didn’t matter what else was planned that day. If we’d get an idea of a fun place to go or a fun project to do, we’d get right to it. It didn’t matter if the house was a mess or she hadn’t made dinner yet. I have the best memories of those days. So what if we ate grilled cheese those nights? Or slept a few minutes later the next morning? Isn’t memorable time with family more important?
Sometimes our spontaneous projects would be for chesed. If one of our neighbors was stuck in the hospital with a sick child, my mom would be the ones to quickly organize meals for the family, and not only deliver them and plop them on the counter, but also make sure they were creatively packaged with coloring books, fresh crayons, and other games and activities for the kids that were home and missing their mommy. My siblings and I would help choose what fun packages we’d create to deliver with the meals and I really admired how my mom always went all out.
Now that I’m an adult, I like to think that I inherited that gene. That’s how it goes in my family. Bright ideas pop into our head and we follow through.
I use those skills in my work as a morah in a boys school…and I always thought it was the perfect fit. There’s always new fun, creative, and brilliant (if I may say so) ideas for projects, worksheets, educational games, and learning activities popping into my head…every day I’d have a new idea to make the lesson of the day more stimulating and fun. I found being able to use my creative genes to teach so, so fulfilling.
Unfortunately, though, I never used to really get my ideas ahead of time. I usually got my best ideas during the commute to school, and the best ideas always came at the end of my most hectic mornings. On those mornings, I’d rush into the office, sharing my ideas with the secretaries, who would then rush to get me the materials I need to put the lesson into practice. Yes, the lessons were always stimulating, even if they didn’t always start precisely on time. Teaching is my calling, and I was always thrilled to be able to use my creativity in this way.
The turnaround in my life came this past June. The principal of the school, who is a very rigid and organized person, told me that my job would no longer be mine come next September. Unless I could turn myself around. Be on time everyday. And organize all my lesson plans in advance.
“You’re smart and brilliant. You have everything going for you except for your time management. Take care of your problems or you can’t teach,” she said.
“But this is my nature!” I thought to myself. “My mother is like this and my grandmother is like this and we were all BORN like this! This is who we ARE!”
Inwardly, I defended myself and my spontaneity. But because it was so ingrained in me, I knew I needed help to change and be more organized, as it wouldn’t come easy. But I would do it.
So, I hired a life coach. On the first day, I told her, “I hate organized people. They’re so rigid that they can’t be flexible and do something spontaneous.”
But then we worked on figuring out what it would take to get me out of the house on time every day.
“How long does it take you to get yourself and your kids ready in the morning?”
“Half an hour,” I said.
But I never could actually get everything done in the half hour. We kept adding time, changing my schedule so I get up with ample time to take care of everyone and myself. In reality, it took me AN HOUR AND A HALF. I now wake up at 6:30 a.m. every morning to be able to leave on time. But I’m always on time, and the mornings are no longer hectic.
After my summer with a life coach, my life is (and I hate to use this word) more organized. My teaching career is back on track, the principal is pleased, and even my personal relationships are better (I suppose I’m more reliable and I like to think I’m just as fun)…and yes, I’m on time for Shabbos too.