Living on the Edge

livingonthedgeI’m having trouble writing lately.

It’s not a lack of inspiration — it’s a lack of time. I start to formulate a post during nap time and lo’ and behold, the 11-month-old poops, the cat throws up, the pile(s) of laundry call to me, “WASH US!”

But this week, I realized something.

(I was going to say, “I had an epiphany” — but that seemed a little dramatic. It was more of a small realization while drinking coffee.)

And it went a little something like this: Lauren, you have a lot of things you want to do, but with 3 small children, you don’t have a lot of time to do those things. Oh, but wait — being present and playing with and teaching your babies is the very best use of your time — so you’re good there. But those other things you want to do? {Working out, deep cleaning the house, fun hobbies, etc.} You can still do them — you just have to do them, as Toni Morrison says about writing, “on the edges of the day.”

Ah, the edges.

Those little nooks and crannies of time. The breaking dawn when I manage to roll out of bed before the rest of the family. Or the lunch hour my husband spends watching the kids. Or the late-night moments when the house is still. Those are the precious edges that I need to truly embrace if I want to make the most of them.

So I came up with some rules of thumb about “living on the edge.”

Rule #1: Have a plan.

This doesn’t mean I have to schedule every second of down time — but it does mean that it’s important for me to have a general idea of the things I want to do when I have a moment to myself. Otherwise, I’ll find myself spending an hour scrolling down my Facebook feed or watching Love it or List it on HGTV.

But sometimes, the plan is just to watch Love it or List it.

Rule #2: Reset your time expectations.

When I was a single gal, I enjoyed taking a 6-mile run at dusk, chatting with friends for hours on end, browsing grocery store aisles for gourmet cooking inspiration, scrubbing my shower til’ it shined and spraying my sheets with lavender (OK, I only did the sheet spray once) — but the point is: I’ve had to reset my expectations for how long things take.

Just because I only have 20 minutes instead of an hour to exercise, that doesn’t mean I can’t get a good workout. A quick vacuum is better than nothing. A weekly meal plan that includes crockpot meals and frozen pizza still makes my family happy. A 5-minute phone call with a girlfriend lets her know I’m thinking of her.

Rule #3: Schedule a few edges you can depend on.

It’s easy for the edges of the day to get lost if you’re not looking for them.

That’s why I’ve found it helpful to schedule a few moments I can depend on. My husband often watches the kids on his lunch break so I can get a quick work out. My mother-in-law watches my oldest once a week so I can run errands and do freelance work. My girlfriends and I try to schedule a monthly wine and dine after the kids go to bed. I’m trying to get up earlier in the morning to write or read — or maybe even drink a cup of coffee in silence. I sometimes let the kids watch an extra TV show or two, so I can power through some laundry.

Because the truth is, when it comes to scheduling my time, I agree wholeheartedly with the words of Rachel Jankovic: “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”

My job as a mother and wife will always take of a great deal of my time — and there’s no better way to spend it. But I also know that life is an adventure where every now and then it’s okay to live on the edge.

5 Comments

  1. Hi…I found your blog via FOF letter about your daughter. I have a similar story…my daughter is a beautiful soul with a rare syndrome called Turner’s syndrome. I have been waiting to write about her too…praying about when.
    Living on the Edges is an interesting concept…I have found being a mother of four I continue to have the same “when I get to it” list and have realized that those activites really are not that important to me or I would make time for them in the frayed edges of my “spare time”. Also…I find that visualizing life doing all these said “activities” minus your kids makes life pretty lonely. They truly are a gift…a wild ride and journey I wouldn’t trade for anything…especially “more time”. blessings.

  2. Well timed & insightful. I love my summertime’s with my boys, but they are my list, and add to my list with every moment. This post just might help me finish the art commission I’m painting… by the time school starts again! Its inspirational to see another mother prioritizing her family, but searching & sparing the moments with which to work on your own talents as well.

  3. Emily

    Love this. Those darn expectations – they’re so hard to adjust. But once you do you think, “Why was I making life more difficult/dramatic/chaotic than it had to be?!” Oh, and I love Rachel Jankovic. Reading her second book now. Hope y’all are doing well. -Em

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