I wrote this post in January 2007 but thought I would share it again now that school and other activities are starting up again. The concept of "margin" has been such a blessing to me and I hope it will be to you also.
The first time I heard about “margin” was at a workshop given by a local homeschool speaker, Shelley Hendry, in 1998. She was giving a workshop on the Titus 2 woman and encouraged us to put margin in our lives. Like margins around the edge of a sheet of paper, we need to have margins around all the areas in our lives.
The principle of margin is from the book, “Margin” by Dr. Richard Swenson. He has also published a book called “The Overload Syndrome”. I highly recommend both of these books if you wish to put the principle of margin in your life.
What is this margin and how do I create it? Margin is a “white space” around all you have to do during the day. It’s allowing time in your homeschool to work on character qualities when the need arises. It’s allowing time for the unexpected when you are heading out the door to church or on errands. It’s thinking “can I do this (activity, work, etc.) without relationships suffering or losing my sanctification?” It’s having enough time in our day that we can joyfully go about our duties as wives and mothers. It’s planning your life with a cushion for mistakes.
One practical way to do this is when running errands. If you have little ones, you know that nothing takes “ten minutes”. Allow extra time for things to go wrong. Remember that an errand involves stopping what everyone is doing, getting ready, getting everyone into the car, driving to the errand, doing the errand, loading everyone back into the car and driving home. Once you are home it takes a while to unload everyone (and things if you’ve gone shopping) and to unwind and get back to your daily routine. Allow time for this!
Allow margin for time to do important things. If you are so tightly scheduled that when your child asks you an important question you don’t have time to answer it, then you need margin. If you have outside activities so crammed together that you are in a panic when a child loses a shoe or there is a detour in the road, then you need margin.
One of the things that Shelley said during the workshop that stuck with me all these years is “life is not a dot-to-dot”. It’s not about getting from one place to the next in the quickest way possible. We need to have time in our lives to worship the Lord, train our children, manage our households, and care for our husbands. If we are on a dot-to-dot journey, then those areas will be neglected and we “will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:5).
Do you have margin in your life? If so, can you share some of the ways you accomplish this? If not, will you prayerfully ask the Lord to help you in this area?