Sometimes I think about before we had kids and ask myself, “How in the world did we spend all our time?”
And I have no idea. Because after work, we just had to come home and for hours and hours and hours we could do whatever we wanted. Which today, feels like a luxury akin to flying in a private jet or having a personal masseuse.
These days, someone is usually crying or whining at all times, myself included. There is a lot of shuffling—school, daycare, soccer, dance, Jog-a-Thon, homework, play dates—not to mention, work, marriage, friends, exercise….. There are days when the whole charade feels a bit ridiculous.
I’ve learned the hard way, that the secret to being a happy and healthy working mom—at least for me—is actually pretty simple: Margin. (And I have to believe it isn’t all that different for parents who don’t work outside the home because kids are kind of nuts.)
Protect Your Margin
We need room to breathe. We need time to not be rushing. We need space in-between responsibilities. My kids need it, of course, but I need it just as much.
When I schedule things too tight, when I don’t have enough childcare, when we have something every night of the week, it simply doesn’t work. I am more stressed and impatient. I don’t enjoy my job or my kids nearly as much. We eat way too much pizza and I feel like a failure in every area
All because a lack of margin leaves me—and as a result, our entire family—with nothing but rushing and hustling and hurry-up-and-get-your-shoes-we’re-late.
Less Margin, More Stress
When I feel my stress inching up little by little, I’ve learned to check myself: Where are we stretched too thin? Are we overcommitted? How can we carve out a little more time? How can we simplify? The more tuned in I am to these feelings, these questions and the answers that follow, the happier and healthier we are. All of us.
The margin makes our life sustainable. And a lot more fun.
Financial Margin Is Financial Success
And it is the same with your money. If you are living too close to the edge, if you aren’t putting money aside every month for larger, less frequent expenses, if you don’t have some kind of emergency fund, you don’t have the margin you need. Your stress levels will skyrocket. You will compromise your ability to make good decisions. You will feel trapped.
In order to create your financial margin, you might have to simplify. You might have to say no to some things. You might have to change your lifestyle a little bit.
But you will be able to breathe. You will be able to make thoughtful, smart decisions. You will have the space to make choices. You won’t be stressed and frantic.
The margin makes your finances and your budget sustainable. And a lot more fun.