The other day, I had 15 minutes by myself on the way to somewhere else and thought: perfect, just enough time to stop at Aldi and grab the 5 things on our grocery list. So, when a random stranger in the parking lot struck up a 12 minute conversation, I was out of time. I ran in anyway, got my 5 things, and was late to my next thing. Granted, strangers making LONG conversations while running errands is uncommon. But, if it’s not long conversations with strangers, it’s something else.
A kid tantruming on the way out the door, but there’s not time to deal with it. A 3 year old wants to learn how to buckle her own seat but you never have time in the car to let her practice and learn. Everybody is hungry and crabby and dinner is behind AND the toddlers want to “help” make it. No energy left for extra bedtime stories or snuggles.Running into a church acquaintance at the mechanic but you don’t even have time for a brief, genuine conversation because you’re rushing to the next place.
It all really comes down to a lack of margin.
And while I think everyone needs margin, kids especially need it. And so do their moms 😉
I recently texted a mom friend for advice about dealing with Addie’s attitude swings. (Ahem: 3 going on 13.)
She responded wisely: “Our lives need margin. All kids need margin. I want to fill my paper, every single line side to side. Choosing to leave no margin will inevitably result in my feeling like a failure, and becoming resentful to my kids and others. Not at all the life the Lord wants for me… Leave margin in your time, energy, and mental capacity to teach your children obedience with a good attitude. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with patience and persistence, you’ll reach their hearts.”
This 3rd trimester has kind of forced margin because I physically can’t move slowly and just need more rest and downtime to make it through the day.
It’s a work in progress, but the 3 big changes to margin I’ve made the last few months are:
- Sleep later – This was a matter of admitting that my pregnant self just needs more sleep. Sleeping later means no blog work in the mornings right now, but I wake up more refreshed and well-rested.
- Spend my kids’ naptime doing less. For me, fewer tasks allow margin in my time, energy, and what’s left of my mental capacity. 😉 With this margin, I find I’m able to pause and really listen to my kids when they need me, handle tantrums and whining more calmly, have real conversations with Ben, and survive the afternoon/ evening until kid bedtime with a little more joy and a little less grumpiness.
- If we’re going somewhere, start getting ready WAY sooner than I think we need to. This way, I’m not crabby at my 22 month old who wants to try putting her own pants and socks on for 10 minutes.
Like I said, it’s a work in progress. We don’t have perfectly balanced lives. I’m still dead-tired some evenings and I still lose my patience with the littles. But, it’s an area I’m growing in – not perfectly, but increasingly. Learning to create margin in our life, say ‘no’ when necessary, say ‘yes’ to help, slow down, and allow more time. Learning to leave some white space on the edges and the inbetweens. The space makes room for grace and for us to all be thriving together as a family instead of driving each other crazy.
What about you? Do you already have margin in your life, or is your tendency, like mine, to run around like a semi-crazy chicken with your head cut off, growing increasingly rushed and irritable all day long? Let’s learn this together! Share any tips you have for creating margin in the comments.