Making the Most of your Margins

Last week was insane.  I wasn’t quite sure why, but it was.  People were crazy.  My family was crazy.  I started to feel a little crazy myself.

I only work part time which under normal circumstances means that I work 4-5 hours a day, 4 days a week.  Last week I worked 5 days and worked between 5-6 hours each day.  Encountering all the crazy people.  By Saturday (my first day off), I was beat.  Physically and mentally.

I came to realized that with those few extra hours at work, everything had been thrown off, just a bit, but it was an important bit.  I wasn’t able to grocery shop for the whole week (poor planning on my part), so I was more apt to run and buy a couple things after work.  This pushed getting home even later.

Once I got home, I had to do the normal tasks:  straighten up, do the dishes, cook dinner.  Yet, after working and running errands, I didn’t really feel like it.  Things piled up and we’d eat soup or sandwiches.  Nothing too strenuous.  I’d spend a little bit of time with Chas, and then NGD and I would watch an episode of Fringe (I was too tired by this point to watch more).  Then bed and repeat.

Add in the norm, (church, homeschooling, returning library books, etc.) and a couple of extra things in the week (going to a farm to learn the ropes on getting the milk for my milk group, NGD going to bible study with a friend, going over to our friends’ for Survivor night), and the week was just so full, it was busting at the seams.

I know that for most, this is the norm.  Most people are in a constant state of motion, running from one thing to the next.  Rushing one child to sports practice, picking another up from piano lessons, and then trying to make time for their spouse, all while trying to stay on top of work, chores, bills, and basic necessities.  And it’s hard.

That’s one of the reasons that NGD & I work so diligently to plan ahead and intentionally try to create margins in our days and weeks.  Planning and prep really are the golden key.  I’m a visual person, so I invested in a calendar so I can see those margins.  It creates a calmness and peace to know that they are there and that I can take advantage of them without guilt.

Because without those margins this week, I wasn’t just affected by the craziness of others, I was part of it.  Saturday morning, I told my husband that I had realized that I had made little to no time that week to read, or write, or color.  I had journaled a bit on Wednesday, and even though it was really only about 10 minutes, it had calmed a raging headache and got me through the rest of the evening.

Women usually get a bad rap on this.  We tend not to practice self-care.  We spend so much time taking care of others that we minimize our own needs.  We think that this will strengthen us, yet it actually does the opposite.  When we take the time to take care of ourselves, we realize how much better we can take care of others.  It doesn’t have to be a spa day every week; it can just be a few hours doing something that recharges us.

Some of the ways that I recharge are by knitting, drawing, creating in some way, reading a book, researching holistic topics, watching a movie (by myself), or having a conversation with my husband/best friend about what’s going on with me.  There are many different things that will work.  It’s just about finding the right way for you and actually making the time to do it.  It is amazing what the results will show.

So, how do you recharge or practice self-care?


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