We moms share a camaraderie this time of year whether we home-educate, or will be sending our children back to school on the big yellow bus. It’s not just the sales of backpacks and lifetime supplies of pencils (which I promise will disappear before the first month of school comes to a close). We all feel the shift. Fall looms on the horizon. We sense the impending alteration of our rhythms and obligations.
Transitions challenge us. Whether summer was full of poolside sweetness, gathering around campfires making s’mores, or trips to see new places, somehow fall comes toward us like an onslaught of shoppers when the doors open Black Friday morning. Autumn patiently waited her turn. No more. She’s coming and she’s coming on fast.
Ready or Not?
I feel a combination of emotions as we approach this upcoming season. A part of me wants to scramble backward and hold on to the easy, lazy days of summer. We had fewer places to be, bedtime wasn’t as urgent, and our free time filled with trips and connections to other people we don’t always have the opportunity to see. My son took a lead role in Peter Pan, something we can’t always afford the time to choose through the school year. I also wrote a lot. I finished the book I started writing in the late spring, Slow Down, Mama: Intentional Living in a Hurried World. It will release September 10th, and I’m over the moon about sharing it with you.
The other half of me starts gearing up for the clean slate ahead. We have opportunities to do things differently than we have in previous years. The structure of a school year provides a framework against which I can build habits for both myself and my children. During the easy flow of summer, we are more prone to get a bit loosey-goosey about chores and other routine habits. Come fall, our more systematic ways of going through the days and weeks help us increase our consistency.
Fall means less time for writing, and more time spent driving to and from soccer, gymnastics, learning programs, and lessons. We have a few more deadlines and commitments. Ministry starts to require my renewed presence. I’m sure you relate.
I want to share some simple things we are doing to slow our re-entry this year. Maybe some of them will inspire you and help you choose how you want to navigate this seasonal transition:
1. Choose one of two ways to enter fall.
Don’t go all-in at first. You have the option to take on some commitments now, and build up slowly to others. Going into fall incrementally feels like wading into a pool, acclimating to colder water on your skin bit by bit. For us, this type of transition happens naturally. We home educate, but my sons go out to courses several days a week. Those outside involvements start the second week of September. We can start our home learning tomorrow and still have three weeks before our full schedule kicks in.
Dive in. Some of us wade in, others head to the high-dive and leap, figuring the inevitable immersion may as well be faced full force. If this is you, I’m cheering you on! That initial shock may jolt you, but the benefit is, once you get past it, you’re all in. No need to build up momentum. You may still have a wonky week while your children catch up to the change. Knowing that can help you give them the grace and support they need.
2. Keep summer going in small ways.
Yes, school starts up for our children. We’ll be going to various extracurriculars and changing our involvements. That doesn’t mean we have to fully kiss summer goodbye. As long as the weather still smacks of summer warmth, we can barbeque supper, go swimming in the river or a pool, have water balloon fights, or spend time snuggling up in the morning before starting our routine. Ask yourself what you loved about your summer pace and continue to carry over those elements, even in a smaller way, into fall.
3. Plan well.
I know some people gravitate towards planning more than others. Still, without a plan, you more than likely will not implement your re-entry in the way you want. You don’t have to create a color-coded spreadsheet or employ an organizational app. Plan your transition your way. I’ve recently been helping a friend who struggles with forcing herself to sit and plan. She knows planning gives her a leg up but chafes at the idea of sitting down to actually lay out the coming week. She committed to set aside time to plan; I texted to check on her progress and then texted to celebrate her follow through. Maybe you need a friend to encourage you in this process too.
4. Give yourself the grace to step back.
Once you are in your fall routine, you can always pull back to rest and regroup. Entering a new rhythm doesn’t mean you have to do all the things, all the time. You can cancel commitments, reschedule obligations, unplug, and gather yourself whenever you need to do that. Give yourself the permission to take the time you need when you need it. Don’t barrel full steam ahead if what you really need is some downtime. As I share in Slow Down, Mama, cultivating the habit of rest breathes life into your soul and gives you the gift of a much more relaxed attitude as you go about your daily routine.
5. Don’t believe the lie that you had to have it all done.
In some ways, the start of school is an artificial line in the sand. We can tend to prescribe ourselves a litany of tasks to complete before the first day of classes. You don’t have to finish purging the office closet, get to that backyard project, or do any other big task before school starts. Yes, summer does lend itself to getting some of those larger endeavors done. Just know that whatever you didn’t do June through August can be worked in September through May. Don’t give yourself arrhytmia over unfinished business.
Lastly, I want to highly recommend you set aside 58 minutes to refresh yourself by listening to the Kindred Mom podcast, episode 41. Lynne, Jenni, and Emily discuss their summers and how they are transitioning to fall. If you long for gracious, comfortable conversations about the day-to-day realities of motherhood, these girls are your go-to for encouragement and ideas. I usually listen to them on my commute to my out-of-town job sites, and often find myself responding to them out loud! (Is that more embarrassing than picking your nose at a stop light? I don’t know.) They simply draw out the feeling of welcome inclusion like a group of old friends hanging around chatting over life and parenthood.
I’ll be on the podcast September 10th, the same day Slow Down, Mama is released. That’s what I call a “God-incidence” since I didn’t plan the timing at all.
I love hearing from you!
Share with me how you are transitioning this season or anything else you want to tell me about. You can comment below, or join us in The Intentional Motherhood Community on Facebook where we spur one another on to love intentionally while making room for what matters most.