Dear Dr. Yael,
I read your column about the importance of mothers and wives taking care of themselves so they can take care of their families, but I just do not see how I can make this happen. In theory, I want to do this, but in reality, I work full time, have several children, have babysitting help only until I get home, and then am a full time mom. I also have to make dinners, do homework, be cheerful for my husband when he walks through the door and give him his dinner, and then do baths and bedtime. Realistically, where is there time for me?
I cannot get up earlier to exercise or even exercise at night because I need to sleep (I get up early enough as it is) and I am exhausted at night. So, where am I supposed to find time to take care of myself? Please help me, as I want to take your advice. I want to be the best wife and mother that I can be and know I will feel better and be less frustrated, but I can’t seem to find a way to make it happen.
A Frustrated and Overworked Wife and Mother
Dear Frustrated and Overworked,
You are correct. Your schedule is packed. And it’s not my place to tell you how to live your life or go through your day and help you carve out time. I don’t know anything about your and your husband’s professional lives. However, what I can do is help you think about reprioritizing.
Where in your life is there some flexibility? Is there any way for you to work at home in your chosen profession, or can your husband? Is it possible for you to leave early or come late once or twice a week and make up the hours of work at home? Is it possible that in the future you will be able to reduce your hours because your husband can make more money at his job or add on other things to help with parnassah?
Your life, the way you describe it, is not going to be viable long term. You have to find a way to make time for yourself! This may mean that you have to shave some corners monetarily or juggle things differently. However you do, it’s imperative that you try to plan some “me” time into your schedule.
It’s understandable that you feel overwhelmed and frustrated, anyone in your position would. It is admirable that you spend your life working and sacrificing for your family, but it’s not healthy for you to not have any time for yourself! Until you can find time to exercise or do something for yourself, it is crucial that you at least make time for your marriage and go out twice a month.
Do you enjoy spending time with your husband? Can you find some time to go out and do something fun? This will help keep your spirits up somewhat.
Do you have a lunch hour or any lunchtime? Can you take a walk with a friend or get out, with or without a friend, and do something you enjoy during lunch? Or maybe you can eat lunch at your desk and leave early instead?
What about Motzaei Shabbos? Can you find an exercise class then or do something with a friend that you enjoy?
I know finding time for yourself seems impossible, but if you schedule in time for yourself every week (even if it is only once a week), you are more likely to make it happen.
Remember, taking care of yourself is the opposite of selfish, as it will enable you to care for everyone else. Self-care strengthens us and helps us support our family better. We cannot be of help to anyone if our energy is depleted. Taking care of yourself will decrease stress and help you cope better with any challenges.
You say you want to, you just don’t have the time. I say make the time – no matter what it takes.