Home Wellness Balance Creating Margin in Our Lives

Creating Margin in Our Lives

Creating Margin in Our Lives

When it comes to self-care I’ve found that an integral piece of the puzzle is the ability to create margin in my schedule.  When my day is overloaded with commitments the first things to go are exercise and downtime.

“Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.” Richard Swenson, M.D. There are seasons where our margin gets temporarily filled and there are seasons where it feels like margin doesn’t exist.  The thing is, if we aren’t careful those seasons of being over busy become longer and with shorter breaks in between.

Our men certainly aren’t helpful in the area of creating margin are they?  For my husband, in-season overlaps with recruiting.  Recruiting overlaps with spring ball and summer break becomes catch-up time.  I know his schedule is not rare, and I’m sure some are even crazier.

Here are a few things to consider about margin:

  • Everyone has a different amount of needed margin. I am hypothyroid and with that comes the need to rest.  If I have too many days in a row of running around I’m almost guaranteed to crash or get sick.  Others need a few hours a week to re-charge or less.
  • Margin looks different to each of us. For me, margin usually means catching up on Netflix or reading, it can also mean lunch with my girlfriends or date night.  For others margin might include shopping or working on a hobby.  For Ordell, margin is playing Xbox or sitting silently.
  • You have to fight for margin. If I’m not careful my kids will convince me they need to participate in every activity available to them.  Additionally, if I don’t think before I say yes I’ll end up on every committee my girlfriends are a part of.  Just because you are invited to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it.  You need to protect your time.
  • You will be happier and healthier with margin consistently in your life. As women we are constantly pouring into others.  Our men, kids, friends, co-workers and sometimes friends of friends get our time, attention and energy.  If you don’t refuel you will stop having anything to give.  It’s taken me a long time to connect the dots on my need to rest and my emotional stamina, but they are directly linked…no doubt!
  • You have to figure out a system. This is a constant work in progress.  Every time I think Ordell and I have a system figured out something comes up to show me it needs tweaking.  At this point we look a week ahead at a time while keeping an eye on the month as a whole.  For me this means utilizing a planner that has a week at a time laid out with hourly breakdowns.  I keep my Google calendar on my phone which syncs to my Outlook, and I also carry a planner.  This might seem like overkill to you, but I’m balancing work, homework for me, running women’s ministry for our campus, two son’s schedules and of course whatever football throws at me 😉  Being able to see everything laid out for the week allows me to go back and fill in my margin times.  Here is a tiny peek into a few of my days this week.  My planner also has a spot for me to write notes and list meals for the week.  What I love about this system is that I’m almost guaranteed to save myself from over booking.
7:00 AM
7:30Drop boys @schoolOrdell take boys to schoolDrop boys @school
10college leadershiphomeworkchapel
10:30development mtgclient
12lunch w Ordelllunch w/girls
1:30grocery shoprun errands
3boys homework helpboys homework helpboys homework help
3:30E & L horseback
5E BasketballE Basketball
6E & L Karate
      9pmCollege Bible Study
  • The more effective I become about communicating my need for margin, the easier it is to create. I admit I wish my husband saw our house the same way I do.  I wish he would remember to vacuum and offer to cook dinner once in a while.  The reality is, Ordell is awesome at following through on help I ask for, but rarely takes over in the areas I traditionally am in charge of.  This summer I ended up pulling out some articles on hypothyroidism and asking him to read through them.  Since then I’ve become more comfortable with saying “I’m overwhelmed and need help” without guilt.


Beth Walker Beth Walker is a coach's wife and mom of 2 energetic boys. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, the adventure of being married to a college football coach has allowed Beth to live in different areas of the country including the middle of a cornfield in Southern IL, and most recently the amazing mountains of Southwest Virginia. Beth has been blogging over at Lessons from the Sidelines (lessonsfromthesidelines.wordpress.com) where she has been striving to finding her own voice, both through personal life reflection and her ministry of serving the girls of Bluefield College as the leader of Women's Ministries called Pursuit. Her husband Ordell is currently the head coach of the Bluefield Rams.