Margin, Do You Have It?


One of the toughest challenges of being a working mom is trying to fit everything in. We feel this (unspoken) need to make sure that the home is being run just as well or better than it was when we were there full-time. We want to make sure that the schools realize that we “have it all together” and that we are not dropping any homework or volunteering balls. We want to prove to our husbands that we are superwomen.

Or, maybe that is just me.

But I suspect that it is you as well.

As an extroverted introvert I need quite a bit of margin.

You know, white space.

Time alone with nothing to do.

A blank spot on the calendar.

Do you have it?

Way back in my MOPS days, one of our speaker explained margin plainly. She explained that every mom needs some breathing room. Some come by it by waking up very early in the morning. (hello! So NOT me! You won’t see me tweeting abut my #miraclemorning anytime soon.) Some stay up late at night. (more my style). But some find it difficult to say no to things, or just have a super demanding life and that margin never, ever happens.

And then. . . Mama has a breakdown.

It is rarely pretty.

So, the advice that this wise mom gave is what I am going to pass on to you today.

You have to schedule (or, truth be told, unschedule) margin. This wise woman gave the advice to mentally divide your day into three parts–morning, afternoon and evening. The goal is to leave one of those blocks unscheduled.

And, I really do try to do this. Now, before you jump to the conclusion that another woman on Facebook did a few weeks ago, “Wow, it must be nice for you to have such a flexible schedule!”, let me remind you that I have six children, a husband, a 40 hour a week job, committees, friends, and commitments. I also have the same 24 hours a day to work with as you do.

So, when I say that I leave a block unscheduled each day (and some days it just cannot happen), I am not saying that I do nothing at all 5 mornings a week. What it looks like in my life is that if I have a morning meeting on Monday, and a lunch date with a friend that day, I need to make sure that my evening is less structured so that I do not feel like a whirling dervish. Or, if the kids have activities every night this week–concerts and sports events and parties–I need to use my lunchbreak at work wisely, and use that time to pick up groceries, run to the post office, or even get my hair trimmed.

Margin means that I am not double parking my brain.

Margin means that I am scheduling time for things that refresh and renew me.

For example, mornings in our house are crazy. There is not a single morning person in our family, and we all have to head out the door within minutes of each other. Even if I could sneak away and spend five minutes in devotional time, it would be far from peaceful.

So I set aside my first bit of time at work for a devotion and to read part of a professional development book. I do this before cracking open the email or updating the social media calendars. I schedule that time in, before the day can get away from me.

I set aside my lunchbreak to write. Some days I run errands and meet friends for lunch, but mostly I write. Writing clears my mind and renews me. So I schedule it in. . .or it would never happen.

Margin makes me a better woman, and my family realizes when I am running short on it. There are times when it just does not happen, like busy seasons at work, or holidays, or getting ready to leave on vacation. But, as a rule, I try to make sure it occurs.

Chime in! How do you make sure to get margin in your life? Leave me a comment or a tweet! 

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Written by Dakotapam
I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife and mom to six kids, including young adult sons down to 8-year old twin daughters. My life is sometimes normal, and sometimes crazy; but through it all, I know that I am blessed! Some people say that I have my hands full, I prefer to call it living life with both hands full, and I love it!