Creating Margin in Your Family

Our culture is so ridiculously busy. We have gone from an attitude of “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” to lives that are too busy to be concerned with anyone else but me. The tendency toward a packed schedule has been my life story. Even as a child, I was a extremely active: afterschool jobs, sports, music lessons, speech, drama, band, 4H, and church activities. There was rarely a day that I did not have an event to go to. And though I was busy and managed to stay out of trouble, looking back I can see that there was not a ton of quality family time. I was pretty consumed by me: what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. I think that my crazy pace (though it was filled with many, many “good” things), enabled me to become very self-centered.

I am not advocating dropping all extracurriculars, afterschool jobs, and the like. We don’t want to be creating a generation of lazy bums. But I wonder if there is a happy medium to be had: a schedule that allows for kids explore their interests, but not at the cost of quality and quantity family time. Is there a sweet spot that allows our children to be active, but also creates space in their lives to appreciate rest and give of their time to others?

I think one of the serious dangers of not creating margin in our families is that we are not only being selfish with our own time, but we are also leading (by example) our children to be selfish with their time. Time is precious. Time is fleeting. And when we fill our schedules so full of activities that we have no flexibility to meet the needs of others, we have severely limited how God can use us to be a blessing in the lives of others. We have no space/availability to be about our Father’s business.

I think there are a few questions we can ask ourselves to evaluate whether or not we have entered the camp of “too busy, no margin”;

  • Do we have a day where we rest together as a family, with no commitments (a day of Sabbath)?

  • Do we regularly (not every day, but frequently) sit down at the dinner table and eat together as a family?

  • Are we spending more than an hour a day in the car driving to school or extracurricular activities?

  • Do we have evenings available in a week where we can show hospitality to others, either by opening our home or meeting people elsewhere for fellowship?

  • Do we have enough time in our day to bring a meal to someone in need, pray as a family for someone who is hurting, help someone move, or another random act of kindness?

I am absolutely convinced that when our kids are adults, they will not remember the gifts they received, or the trophies, medals and ribbons they earned. Those things will all collect dust somewhere and fade from memory. But the things they will treasure, that will stay with them forever, are the experiences they had with their family and friends. I want to make space for my children (who like me are sinful and selfish by nature) to learn to open their eyes to observe the needs of those around them, to use their minds and hearts to consider how they can meet those needs, and to use their time and abilities to meet those needs. But if I let my kids’ schedules get too full with no margin, there will literally be no space for our kids to learn that selflessness and practice sacrificial love. I can’t make my kids selfless, but I can create an environment in our daily lives that creates space for those opportunities to learn and practice selflessness, kindness, and rest.

If you want to see more about how I schedule our homeschool days, click on the link: How I Schedule Our Homeschool

What challenges does your family face in creating space for margin and rest in your home? Do you have any insights or tools that you can share with other Doing Life Deliberately readers so that they can have success in this area? PLEASE, share your thoughts below!! We’d love to hear from you!!

Until next time, keep Doing Life Deliberately!

~Trisha