It’s a whole new animal this fall–right?
But, it actually always is. And that’s what I just realized today.
My friend, Amy, said something brilliant to me as I was lamenting the end of summer. She said:
“It’s hard to transition seasons. Different feels bad for some reason and so we spend a lot of time wondering how to get back or fix what appears to be broken when all it is is a different path.”
A Tale of Two Goals
I realized after she said that how much time and energy I spend every cusp of fall trying to (1) keep summer from slipping through my fingertips, and (2) make fall manageable.
I can’t do the first (keep summer from slipping away).
Although … I CAN do some things to hold onto the sense of rest and open ended living that summer gives us.
And, with a little foresight, I just might be able to manage fall.
How to Make this work
So, let’s talk about a few keys as to how we can transition into fall without losing our ever loving minds — especially when we are faced with distance learning and home education in the mix. I also want to share how we can navigate a season when we can’t seem to find solid ground upon which to build a plan for the coming months. Things change faster than a Kardashian switches outfits right now. How on earth do we plan around that?
Less is More
One other gem my friend Amy reminded me about (when I texted her saying, “Any suggestions for history lessons for a sixth-grade boy whose retention is more like a funnel than a sponge these days?”) … She said, “Less is more.” Whew. She really got me thinking. How often do we end up planning in too much, pouring on just one more thing, or thinking we will be able to manage all the other things and add in extra without removing anything? Um. Way.Too.Often.
When Amy said, “Less is more,” she reminded me that I need to be careful to choose well. In each area of life: menu planning, home education, commitments, less can be more. So, as I plan what has to be done to properly educate my sixth grader, I’m picking some key things to focus on and then a few things to support what we are learning. And then I’m stopping. I’m not adding one more thing just to shore up what we are learning.
What seems like it might add to what we’ve learned can actually overwhelm and flood my child and have the opposite impact. Like a cup filled to the brim, my child’s brain can only retain so much. My schedule can only hold so much. Our responsibilities can only extend so far.
This concept of “less is more” applies to so many areas of life. Why add in more when we don’t need to? We need to know our capacity and the capacity of those around us and live within the pleasant lines God has drawn for us.
Make a Plan
This may seem obvious, but it really needs to be said. This week I found an online tool called weekplan.net. At the outset, the questions are asked: what are your primary roles in life? Then, what would make each role go more smoothly? Or, what is something that is most important in this role? As I looked at these (through the trial version I am using for two weeks) I realized how easy it is to let the most critical aspects of what needs to be done slip by while we get mired in minutia.
When we make a plan, we take the reins and decide where our week will go. You all know I’m a HUGE fan of 90-day planning. Breaking things down into seasons and determining the priorities in each season helps me not get overwhelmed.
So, make your plan. Lay out your roles on a piece of paper. If you need to, do a brain dump first (write out everything that needs to be done under that role or in that area of your life). If you do a brain dump, you can sort through what is immediate or critical and what can wait, be delegated or deleted. Ask yourself that key question: What would be the most significant task I need to do in this role over the coming week or month? Then put that task into your days to come.
Develop a Rhythm
I’m going to try to put this in words. There’s a difference between a schedule and a rhythm. I think the difference is the clock. A schedule says, “Take Joey to the doctor at 11:15am.” Rhythm says, “Spend quiet time with God, make breakfast, clean up, do some reading with the kids, have the kids work on math while I check email …” It’s the way events or tasks layer onto our days in a predictable flow.
Predictable is the key here. When I am able to rely on the fact that there will be a place in my day for all the things that matter, and that they can flow from one thing to the next, I relax. I don’t stress about what needs to get done. Plus, when things are in a habitual flow, they happen without much thought, and that eliminates decision fatigue.
The other HUGE bonus to having a predictable rhythm is that your kids fall into it with you and that means less resistance and interruption when it comes to times you need them to self-occupy so you can do things like write your next fiction book, catch up on email, or even watch a show on Netflix to recharge your battery.
Build in Rest
Isn’t it ironic that the people I know who need rest the most are the ones who always tell me they don’t have time to rest. It’s equally paradoxical that rest makes us BETTER at getting things done. When we rest, our brain gets more energized. We gain perspective while we are away from what usually consumes us. We regenerate during rest. Then we can do what Tim Keller says: Work from a place of rest.
So, I recommend (to me and to you) that we build in daily, weekly, and monthly times of rest. You don’t have to lay on the couch eating bon-bons … but you CAN. Mainly you need to do what refuels your tank and gives you the stamina and creativity to go forward. Take time away from the things that drain you, the things you consider work, and the obligations of life to simply rest.
Don’t stress over what you can’t control
One of the biggest keys to transitioning well is to let go of the parts of life that are outside our sphere of control and influence. These days we are excruciatingly aware of how little we actually control. But, we DO have control over much. Our choices, our time, our reactions. Let’s use our choice well and be sure to determine what we can do, instead of dwelling on what we can’t determine or direct. This attitude of our heart will help diminish stress while it empowers us to build lives we want to be living.
I hope these five tips: doing less, instead of more; planning ahead; living by rhythm; building in rest; and letting go of what we can’t control help you as you transition into this fall. These are timeless principles, but in this season when we all feel a bit wobbly, they are keys to a smooth transition into autumn.
You might also like this post with three things you can do to diminish decision fatigue.
I’d love to hear from you! I’d also love to pour into your motherhood weekly. If you want to sign up for my weekly email where I send you a little encouragement, a practical parenting tip, and a family-tested, family-loved recipe, you can sign up here.
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Horace Williams Jr says
Timeless indeed Patty. I am always working to not worry about things I cannot control. I want to do my best to excel at at everything else. Glorifying God in everything I do.
It’s a constant practice, Horace. I sometimes feel I’ve got this down, and then I find I have let it slip. Always, God is patiently guiding me back to what is good for me and others. I’m grateful for you and your example. Thank you for commenting.