How to Create Margin in Your Family’s Schedule

The following post is from Amanda of

my how to create margin in your family's schedule
source: ohamanda on Instagram

At the beginning of my college career, we could hand write our papers. I clearly rode to school on a dinosaur’s back. However, by the end of college (I squeezed four years into five), we had to use computers. Like any good student, I was concerned about the details of my papers. Namely, what size font and what margins should I use. The bigger the font and wider the margins, the less words I had to write. And if I could doubles-space? Even better!

Having extra space on my papers led to extra time to do whatever young college girls do. Today, I recognize the same margins and space in my family’s schedule. When I pre-determine the margins and extra space needed in my schedule, I can have more breathing room, more time and more pause in my life.

Without extra space in my schedule, there is no room to create, no room to be bored, no room to be spontaneous, no room to just be. I want my children to know this space. I want them to feel the adventure of living, not the schedule of a well-ordered week. I also want them to know an attentive mom, not a frazzled drill sergeant who moves them from place to place.

Here’s a few steps to creating space in your family’s schedule:

1. Do one thing at a time.

This might mean your kids play one sport per season or take one class per semester. This might mean you volunteer for only one party at school, or one position at church. Maybe you show up to only one special event in your community or one extra activity with your friends.

You don’t have to do every single thing in every single area of your life. In fact, even if you do one thing in each area, that’s a lot of “one things” to fill your schedule!

2. Just say no.

This is such an overused directive that sometimes it seems trite and unhelpful. So, let’s take it one step further. Not only should you be willing to say no to extra activities in your schedule, you need to learn the art of just saying no. Like the old say-no-to-drugs campaign it means, don’t add any extra words or excuses. Simply say, “No. I can’t do that right now.” or “No. I won’t be able to help.”

One of my best friend’s mom is a family counselor. She always said, “Adults don’t need to explain.” The room mom in your kid’s class doesn’t need a long detailed excuse as to why your schedule is full. It’s tempting to create a half-lie to show how you can’t possibly bake brownies for the bake sale. Instead, don’t explain. Just say no.

3. Let it go.

Don’t stack your schedule so it mirrors others’. Some people thrive on busy. Just because your friend has all her kids in piano, basketball and art classes on Wednesdays, doesn’t mean you have to. Know your limits, where your margin needs to be and only allow your schedule to be filled to it. Let go of all the other things that “should be” done. Just because something is a good idea or would be helpful or fun, doesn’t mean you need to do it every time.

If you have something on your calendar that is a heavy weight, set it down! Your family will breathe easier for it. Let’s choose to give our schedule breathing room so we have time for discoveries with our kids, conversations with our spouse and adventures as a family!

How do you keep margin in your family’s schedule?

Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!