(Photo/Flickr-sue seecof CC BY 2.0)
(Photo/Flickr-sue seecof CC BY 2.0)

Rosh Hashanah resolution: The to-do list can wait.

In the new year, I want to work on slowing down and being more present. I want to do a better job of balancing my endless to-do list with meaningful quality time. I want this for my kids, too.

They race from one thing to the next. (When did high school become a race?) There’s much chatter around AP classes, GPA and these impossible standards whereby they feel they can’t ever quite measure up.

I don’t want my kids to feel like they always have to be in high gear. I know they know it’s not about what you do that matters, but who you are, and yet it’s hard not to get sucked in by all the pressure. I tell them to read more for fun, to do more of the things they enjoy and forget about building a resume; there’s time for that later.

But I find myself getting a little caught up, too. I want for them the things they want, and I know they may have to jump through hoops to get there. I live by my calendar because I feel like I can’t make it all happen if I’m not on top of everything. I think other mothers are more together than me.

My favorite family days are when me and my hubby and the kids have nothing on our calendars. We watch a silly movie at home with a big bowl of popcorn, go for a walk in our neighborhood or check out the new ice cream place in the Mission. During the school year, it feels like days like these are few and far between.

How can my family slow down, and how can I build more time into my day to breathe, to be grateful? I can’t ask them to do better if I’m not also trying to do better. Maybe the kids would tune me out less if they saw me taking the advice I dish out to them.

I love family dinners during the week because we are disconnected from our phones and connected to each other. But after the dishes are cleared, we all plug back into our devices. This year, I’m going to try and resist the urge to check my phone right after dinner. What if instead, I wait 20 minutes? What if I wait 30 minutes and spend the time thinking about all the things I am grateful for that day? What if I take that time to write down each of these things for which I am thankful? What if I share a few of them with my hubby and the kids?

It’s great to unplug on Shabbat, but building in a daily gratitude practice feels right to me, too. My kids probably will roll their eyes and may dismiss the idea as corny, dorky or stupid, but that’s OK — I know they are paying attention more than I think they are.

The High Holidays are the time of the year I take stock of my life and get a reset. I think about what I can do better in the year ahead, how I can let go of anger and past resentments, how I can be a better friend, wife and mother. Am I doing all I can to make the world a better place?

This year, I’m going to try not to let my to-do list get the best of me. When we run around so much, we miss so much. Rosh Hashanah reminds me that life is sweet, precious and fleeting. I’ll try and live more intentionally this year, content with where I am here and now and grateful for all the blessings in my life. The to-do list can wait. The people nearest and dearest to me shouldn’t have to.

Julie Levine

Julie Levine is a Bay Area writer and the editor of the Jewish lifestyle blog Florence and Isabelle. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children.