Margins Bless and Reduce Family Stress
Hurrying through the house, we searched under chairs and beds for the lost shoe. “You need to be more responsible and keep up with things,” I reminded my child. On the way to school, child number two spoke up. “I have a major test tomorrow and haven’t studied for it yet. I hope I can cram tonight.” With that, I blew a fuse. “How long have you known you had this test?” My mind was whirling with our already cram packed schedule for the day. I wondered how in the world she’d be able to study with all we had going on through the evening.
After dropping the kids off, I returned home and checked my email. One caught my attention that had the word “margins” in it. Reading the article, I realized how timely it was and eventually saw the value of adding margins to our family routines.
Margins Are More than White Space
A margin is the edge or border of something. If you’re like me, you were introduced to margins on paper in school. We were taught to write within the margins. Writing from one edge of the paper to the next edge created too many words on a page. Even now as I type this, I have left and right margins. It’s easier on our eye to read and our brain to process what we’re reading if we have some white space, some margins.
Margins Are Important in Our Day
What I gleaned from the article on margins was that it’s important to have empty, white space in our day. If we cram our day with activity from the time we wake up until we fall in bed at night, it’s hard. It doesn’t give us, or our children, any down time to process all that we need to be doing during the day. We don’t have time to think through the fact that if we are going to bake a cake for the school fundraiser, we need time to go to the grocery store and time to bake the cake. Our children who are leaving school in the afternoons and heading straight to homework, after school sports and other night time activities find themselves with no margins to think through and process what their week holds and in the case of my child, the needed extra time to study for a test.
Jesus Demonstrates the Value of Margins
Mark 5:21-43 gives us a glimpse into a day in Jesus’s life. He had healed a person with unclean spirits, crossed in boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and as soon as he got out of the boat was met by a synagogue official who implored Jesus to go to his home and heal his near death daughter. Jesus agreed, but on the way, someone touched Him in a way that moved Him to stop and inquire, “Who touched me?” Jesus allowed time for “white space” in His day, margins to stop and look at the people around Him. Margins to unhurriedly ask about them. Margins to evaluate what He sensed in Himself. Margins to ask about the power He felt go out of His body.
Do We Allow for Margins in Our Day
Perhaps we would be wise to ask ourselves if we allow margins in our day that allow time for someone who unexpectedly calls or drops by. Do we allow for margins in our day that allow us to pay attention to how we’re feeling and pray for power if we’re powerless or to pray for patience if we’re irritable? Do we allow margins so we are able to view interruptions as possible divine appointments rather than simply an intrusion? Do we allow margins to ask the people in our life what they have going on so we can help them plan their week?
Are We Teaching Our Children to Build Margins into Their Week
Most people agree that our society is fast paced and so it’s easy for calendars to get crammed. Although it’s nice that our children have a variety of activities in which they can participate and of course always want a friend to come over or go do that one more thing, are we teaching our children to say no and to schedule their days with margins? For example, if a child asks if a friend can spend Friday night, that might be fine. But what happens to Saturday? More than likely, the friend will stay the day. But what if mom taught her child the value of margins; that a friend could stay until 3 pm, but after that, she needed a few hours Saturday afternoon to rest and catch up on homework; including the book report due Monday?
Model the Value of Margins and Mentor Your Children to Add Margins to Their Week
Moms have the privilege of pouring many life lessons into our children. Time management is one that can easily be overlooked. However, we can choose to begin scheduling our week with margins. We can explain to our children why we are saying no to every minute being cram packed. We can teach our children to think through what they have going on during the week and ask them, “When will you have down time to think? When will you have down time to rest?” “When will you have time for something unexpected but that is important?” “When will you have time to pray?” Yes, rather than being a stressed, over scheduled mom who is raising stressed, over scheduled children, we can begin building margins into our week.
Have you ever wished you didn’t have such a busy schedule?
Has your schedule or your child’s schedule ever stressed you out?
Is your child running from the time they go to school until bedtime?
Can you see the value of “white space” margins in your day and in your child’s day?
What can you do to create margins now and in the future so your home life is more peaceful and less stressful?