It’s September, and school is back in full swing! I don’t know about you, but the transition from sleeping in, staying up late, and afternoons by the swimming pool to early mornings, packing lunches, and evening homework sessions is tough for me. I’m not great at transitions anyway, and if I’m not careful, I can become easily overwhelmed with the fall schedule every single year.
One thing that can really make a difference for my family is creating some margin. This is so hard to do, especially with several children and their various activities. The creation of margin is difficult, intentional work, but it’s work that always benefits our families.
Here are a few things to remember as you think about your family’s use of time:
Put everything on the calendar – I’m not naturally super organized, but my husband is, and he’s taught me the importance of having a coordinated, detailed calendar. Our family uses a common calendar on our phones, and we all share our calendars with each other. That means I can see my husband’s work meetings, my son’s cross country meets, and the days that I’m taking a meal to a friend on my phone at a glance. This helps me avoid overscheduling.
Schedule down time as a family – It’s really tempting for me to fill every weekend with fun things. We live in a city with an endless supply of entertainment, restaurants, and events. If I see a free Saturday on the calendar, I’m almost always tempted to fill it with a day-long outing. As much as I love those activities, I love (and need) a quiet, low-key day at home even more. It’s so restorative to have time for coffee, for reading, and for a game of UNO, even if it only happens once a month.
Don’t be afraid to cut back – A hard thing for many women to do is say no to good things. When we find ourselves in seasons that feel a bit too full already, it’s critical to be able to say no not only to new things, but to things that are already part of our lives. This requires prayer and discernment and courage. It’s okay to sit out for a season of volunteering or take a break from soccer or dance for a short time. Our children are with us, participating in our daily lives, for such a short time; we need to make the most of that time now.
In our American culture, margin feels like an indulgence that we’re not sure we can afford. Our husbands need to work long hours, our kids need to be involved in all the activities, and as moms, we need to orchestrate and coordinate it all. Once we experience margin, though, we realize that not only can we afford it – we really need it. The rest and restoration that our families need is often only experienced in the margins.