Skip to Content

Reclaiming What We Already Have – The Fringe Hours {Book Review}

My mother used to take us swimming at the local pond in the summer. For hours we’d play in the murky waters, while my mom sat on a grassy patch under a tree. And did cross stitch. Read a book. Handed out snacks.

I am always asking my mom, “How did you do it? (watch us, get dinner on, keep a spotless house, and still do sewing projects, drive us to school, substitute teach, and be active in church).

fringe hours book review

I think her secret was… she made good use of “fringe hours.”

She insists she didn’t do it all. That the house was sometimes messy (I don’t recall). I think something got lost between the 80’s mothering and today. That lost something? The margin in our lives. The fringe of time that wove in and out, decorating my mom’s day with crafts and cookery, and simple pleasures.

I just finished reading The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner. And I think it’s going to be among the top 10 pivotal nonfiction books of my lifetime. I enjoy reading books about time management. The Fringe Hours differs in specifically exploring time for ourselves from a woman’s and mother’s perspective: time management as a self-care opportunity.

What’s been lost in the past decades is not time itself… those moments my mother captured are still available to us… it’s the way we spend time. We treat minutes like pennies, not worth stooping to pick up. And, those moments are now taken up mainly by technology, bit by byte, while we wonder where the time went.

Cash in on “pockets of time” for a big payoff for your soul and spirit!

Just like Turner, I started my quest for “me time” a few years ago by joining a monthly book club. After our second child, I felt a sense of malaise (a slight or general feeling of not being healthy or happy), and yes, I’m an English teacher, so I actually said “malaise” aloud! I needed to get back to my passion for reading and writing outside of blogging. Book club was the answer! Just three hours a month, but so refreshing!

But then, book club ended, and instead of filling those three hours a month with something to fill my soul and spirit up – I just let them slide into the “slush pile” of time. The Fringe Hours came to me at the perfect time, as I’ve been considering the next step in my own self-care and in our family’s well-being.

Natural living is about more than food. It’s about the way we spend our time.

People tend to think “living naturally” is all about organic food or recycling. I do love good food and a great cloth diaper! But a natural life is also about slower living, taking time to enjoy what matters to you.

For example: I could stay up too late to watch the latest movie. Or… I could take several more hours and enjoy the book version at a leisurely pace. Both can be fun. One is more pleasurable for me because reading is a passion of mine. The problem? One is more “efficient.”

Unfortunately, as Turner says: “We sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent.” When being efficient (watching the movie) replaces my passion (reading)… I’m sacrificing. (for some people, watching the movie IS what they enjoy – reading is MY passion, so insert your own passion here!). We sacrifice because we believe the lie that “there’s not enough time” for them. But the time IS there!

So how do we find and utilize The Fringe Hours of our time?

Turner sets up her book with a careful look at why we women and mothers don’t take time for ourselves. Why we feel a sense of guilt. Why we let things steal small moments from us. “Motherhood is such a beautiful, hard, instinctual journey,” she says – that line caught me and won’t let me go. Our instinct says to put everyone first… to empty ourselves out in service to others – beautiful, and yet, hard.

Mothers – get a grasp on this truth: When we’re running on empty? We have nothing left to give!! 

Turner sets out concrete steps and strategies for reclaiming what we already have: “Fringe Hours” – time to invest into our soul and spirit without the guilt. Here’s a few truths I learned from Turner’s book:

We need self-care. And we need to NOT feel guilty about it. Stop self-applying guilt like it’s cream cheese frosting. Neither one are good for you.

Be honest with yourself. Keep a time journal for a week (printable at, and be honest about where you could improve. I have had many a “crash-and-burn” episode because I didn’t get enough sleep, take a break, or do something to fuel my creative spirit – because I wasn’t honest about my NEED for those things.

Be prepared. Schedule time for yourself, and be prepared when you happen upon a pocket of time. Ask yourself, what would you like to DO if you had more time? Now… plan for it. Schedule it. Be prepared for it. Here’s a few ideas I got after reading Turner’s book:

Read a book (that you brought in your purse)

write a thank you card (that you tucked into your glove compartment)

memorize a Bible verse (tuck a note card into your wallet each week)

rest your eyes (instead of playing with those apps!)

Eliminating “good things” can be a good thing. There’s only so much time. You can’t say yes to everything and do it well. Focus and have boundaries – and then flourish!

Staying motivated to capture your fringe hours

fringe hours book review

Oh there’s so much more I could say about The Fringe Hours…. so much to chew on and discuss. I’ve been inspired to reinvest in my well-being and my family’s. To keep myself motivated, I picked up a few goodies from Family Christian to focus on using my Fringe Hours well.

One goal of mine is to express my gratitude in more tangible ways. I get exhausted and think, “Well, they know I’m thankful, right?” But I’m going to make extra effort to send out thank you cards. I ordered these cute sheep thank you notecards and colorful markers to write pretty notes. Coming to a mailbox near you!

And… for further gratitude – how about more prayers of thanksgiving? The box sign in the photo above is small and portable, so I’m going to move it around the house weekly to remind myself to give prayers of thanks, not always of asks!

How about you? Do you already use your fringe hours, or are you like me, looking to make better use of this untapped resource!? 

Fringe Hours Book Review vertThis is a sponsored post with Family Christian and I received and advance review copy and promotional items in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. 


Friday 6th of March 2015

I keep seeing this book pop up in recommendations. I've seen it via MOPS International and Kathi Lipp, and now here. I may be purchasing a copy sometime soon. It also sounds like it has great potential as a book club choice. Thanks for the review!

Michelle Faile

Thursday 5th of March 2015

I would read more!

Michelle Faile

Thursday 5th of March 2015

I would read more!

Trisha W.

Wednesday 4th of March 2015

I would like to find time to be organized like I used to.

Trisha W.

Wednesday 4th of March 2015

I would like to find time to be organized like I used to.