Originally published Monday, 06 April 2015.
Jessica Turner is a married mother of two who works full time, runs the popular lifestyle blog The Mom Creative, and still finds time to take care of herself and do the things she loves, including crafting, reading, baking and even monthly massages.
Jessica has found the secret to making time for herself: using her fringe hours. Fringe hours are those little pockets of time throughout the day that often go underused or wasted altogether. These moments may not seem like much at first—five minutes here, half an hour there––but these little pockets can be collectively leveraged by women in meaningful ways.
We sat down with Jessica to talk about the book and how she's juggling life with the newest addition to their family-- a newborn!
Here is an excerpt from Jessica's book; we hope this encourages you to start looking for those fringe hours in your day where you can find time for the things that you are most passionate about (or maybe even discover something new!)
If you were to choose one word to describe your daily life, what would it be? Busy? Mundane? Exciting? Stressful? Happy?
Mine would probably be busy. Occasionally stressful. Oftentimes happy. It’s not necessarily a “bad busy” or “super stressful,” but my days are definitely full and intense, with happiness throughout. With a full-time career, a husband, two kids, a new house (that needs a lot of work), friends I want to hang out with, and a variety of other commitments, life seems to move at warp speed. And most women I know seem to feel the same way—always juggling all the responsibilities of work and home, family and friends, ourselves and others. Always searching for balance.
One of my own times of struggle with this started pretty innocently when I decided to join a book club. It had been two years since I had last been actively involved in one, and my soul was craving the community.
The club was every Tuesday night, and my husband, Matthew, and I decided that it would be best if on those days, I would work a little later and go straight to the club from my office. What I didn’t realize when I signed up for the book club was that two weeks into it, our family was also supposed to start attending a new weekly community group through our church. I wanted to be part of both, and it seemed doable.
The first two weeks of the book club went great. I loved both the friend leading it and the new women I met. This addition to our weekly schedule seemed like it was going to work.
Well, I was wrong.
The first week we were supposed to go to community group, I was incredibly stressed. I had just come back from a business trip, my daughter was teething and going to bed earlier than normal, and rushing out the door to community group made little sense. So I sent an apologetic text to the group leader and secretly breathed a sigh of relief.
The next week was not much better, with my schedule overflow- ing with commitments and deadlines. I stood at the kitchen sink, washing dishes and crying. When my husband, Matthew, asked what was wrong, I said, “I’m doing too much. I’m overwhelmed. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I can’t do it all.”
The Balance Challenge
The book club and community group conundrum is just one of numerous times when I have wrestled with balance. My guess is that you too have had a similar wrestling match, trying to wrangle too many things into some sort of order, all in pursuit of this elusive goal of “balance.”
When I wrote the survey for this book, I asked participants, “What do you think is most challenging about being a woman today?” I suspected many would say, “Trying to balance everything,” and I was right.
I found myself nodding my head over and over again as I read the truth-filled, vulnerable words of these women of all ages proclaiming how balancing all that life brings is incredibly challenging. Even if you don’t use the word “balance” to describe this issue, you can’t deny the challenge. You might talk instead about “priorities,” “fit,” or “organization.”
However you define the act of having things in order and not being overwhelmed, that is what I want to dig into. In my own life, the balancing act includes blogging first thing in the morning, getting two kids ready for day care and dropping them off on my way to the office, working all day, picking up the kids after work, getting dinner ready, putting the kids to bed, and spending time with my husband. On top of the everyday tasks are the one-offs—grocery shopping, Target runs, doctor appointments, birthday parties, soccer games, paying bills, and so on.
Can you relate?
In today’s busy world, the only way to have balance is to fight for it. A woman’s “normal” schedule should not be overwhelming. Your schedule should be manageable, with open space. When you make room in your schedule to breathe, you make room for you—and that is key to discovering fringe hours.
Some time ago I spoke with creative entrepreneur Becky Higgins, who runs a successful business from her home while being a wife and the mother of three children. Becky is dedicated to pursuing balance and making time for herself. “When I do have that balance and that time for me, I feel more alive,” she told me. “I feel rejuvenated, which results in me being a better wife, a better mother, and a better worker.”
I have discovered several ways to cultivate balance within your commitments and yourself. While some of these tips may be easier to say than do, they all can make a huge impact on your life.
To cultivate balance in your commitments, you must:
Say no. For balance to exist, you must say no to some things, even things that are good. Remember, saying no is not a bad thing because ultimately it means you are saying yes to some- thing else. (We will discuss saying no more in chapter 7.)
Learn from your mistakes. Sometimes you are going to over- book yourself and life is going to be too full, like my crazy Christmas season. Learn from those seasons. Once you come out on the other side, ask yourself what you could have done differently. Could you have said no to something or scheduled an activity for another month?
Evaluate what matters. Continuously review your schedule and make sure everything is necessary. A quote I have on my desk reads, “If what you do doesn’t matter to you, it’s really not going to matter to anyone else.” Work to fill your life with things that matter.
Reduce distractions. Sometimes balance can be achieved just by turning off your phone, computer, or other technological devices. Or you might need to find a quiet place in your home or out in nature to be less distracted.
To cultivate balance within yourself, you must:
Extend grace to others and to yourself. Some days are going to be challenging. On those days, give yourself grace. And if you encounter others who need grace, show it to them. Don’t let them suck you into the quicksand of negativity. Instead, extend your hand and offer kindness.
Take care of your health. Oftentimes when we run our- selves ragged, our health suffers. Our energy levels drop. The sniffles hit. Our bodies aren’t able to function at 100 percent. To live a balanced life, you must take care of your body. Eat well, go to the doctor for checkups, exercise, and get enough sleep.
Give and receive love. We were created for relationships. Love well each day.
Pray. Make time each day to pray and be with the Lord. He is your comfort and your rock. You do not have to go through a single day without him.
Express gratitude. Take time each day to write down what you are thankful for. Research shows that people who keep a gratitude list are happier people.
Make time for yourself. Your reading of this book demonstrates that you want this! It’s incredibly important to make time for self-care and your passions.
It’s also important to remember that certain seasons are going to be busier and that balance may look different during those sea- sons. As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Just because a season is busy doesn’t mean you can’t still use these balance principles to help yourself avoid becoming overwhelmed.
This excerpt was adapted from The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner. Used with permission from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2015 by Jessica N. Turner.