You’re not done with your summer bucket list yet. I get it. I am heading to Banff next week to bask in the glory of the sunshine and stunning beauty of the mountains for the last hurrah. But pretending that the routine and temperature shift and pull to busyness of fall (and winter on its heels) isn’t coming will not help us step into the season joyfully.
For those of you in the Southern hemisphere, just humor me (and also I’m jealous):)
A little preparation goes a long way in helping me live with calm and clear intention; in helping me attain the slower and peaceful life that I desire. Ok, I said a little but sometimes a whole lotta reflection and work and even internal wrestling are involved in getting me to the place where I am settled and clear about what I need and want. And practically prepared for what lies ahead.
Getting to this place of clarity and preparedness feels amazing. It is worth the work.
Of course, rarely does life go off without a hitch despite the best thought out plans. And undoubtedly there will be some unexpected opportunities or schedule changes that arise in the fall; yet with a solid foundation and plan of action in place, a little tweaking here and there is often all that is required to stay the course.
So fall is coming. Whether we want it to or not. And rather than pretend like it is a big surprise when the first snowfall comes way too early (and you realize that your kids have lost every single mitten pair in the house and have outgrown their boots) or your kids need lunches packed for the first week of school (and you do a mad scramble to the shops for some processed little lunch in a box thing despite your professed desire to eat healthier this year), why not take some time at the end of summer to get prepared?
Whether you are an empty-nester, a mama in transition like me, or fully immersed in thriving career and never-having-kids-by-choice, preparation and forethought can help you step into fall joyfully.
I have provided a basic checklist of tasks that I believe can support you and I both in living with greater intention and calm – 7 strategies to help you step into fall joyfully – and I’ll briefly run through my general thoughts around each one.
7 STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU STEP INTO FALL JOYFULLY
1. Step one is to get clear on HOW you want to FEEL this fall. Carefully choose up to three adjectives that help you envision the feeling(s) you desire in your home, mind, body and spirit. The next six strategies should help you align with these Mind•Body•Spirit Intentions.
2. Create a simplified or minimalist wardrobe for yourself and your family members (if they are willing). Streamlining your clothing choices removes a ton of angst when you are getting ready each morning. While you may not want to live within the strict limits I have imposed on my own wardrobe, or a ‘proper capsule wardrobe’, you may be ready to get clear on what does and does not work well for you. Ruthlessly purge the clothes you never or almost never wear, those that are too small, tattered or unflattering, the items you felt you ‘should’ buy but feel so ‘not you’ in. Think about all the brain power you will conserve in the mornings when you (and your kids) have fewer choices each morning BUT you actually love and feel good in the clothes that are available.
3. Establish a home management routine. I’m a big fan of “batching” activities rather than spreading them out. You might want to choose one or two days a week that are designated as ‘home management days’ (and likewise, have days designated as ‘work days’ or ‘day of rest‘, etc.) It does not mean that is all you can do on that day but that you have a clear focus for the day. Alternatively, you may want to create time blocks throughout the week to accomplish home-management related tasks: things like menu planning, shopping, food prep (so very important!!!), bill paying, cleaning, making appointments, buying gifts for birthdays/holidays, general tidying, laundry, and so on. If you have a family, create a chart showing who does what and when. Or hire a house keeper if that’s what works for you. But guys, the work has to get done somehow.
4. Create a super clear plan of action for self-care and mental wellness. Later I will talk about crafting a weekly schedule – your self-care must make it onto this schedule. Will you have a coffee date out once a week, join a fitness class, book massages, get into bed earlier this year? Where will this fit on the schedule? When specifically will you move your body or connect with your partner? If you know that you struggle with anxiety or SAD, take action now! Buy your light lamp (affiliate link), talk to your partner about how he/she can best support you or watch out for you this fall and winter, hire a nutrition & lifestyle coach or counselor as part of your care team. Now is the time to order the supplements and herbs that will support you and your family through the darker season.
5. Pull out the Just Let It Go worksheet that I provided a few weeks back and spend a half hour really pondering what you need or want to let go of in order to feel the way you identified in step one. The worksheet can be truly useful – it was in using this worksheet that I realized I needed to break up with wine as it was no longer helping me align to my Mind-Body-Spirit Intentions. Clutter, too many extra-curricular activities, friendships that burn you out, volunteer commitments that lead to resentment, unhealthy habits that leave you sluggish and discouraged… all examples of what you might need to ditch in order to step into fall joyfully. And learn to create a 24 hour pause before accepting any new fall commitments!
6. Create a master menu plan of 5 quick, simple and healthy meals that you can fall back on when you are busy. Even if these meals are not perfectly healthy, but they get you making more real food rather than grabbing fast-food, you will be grateful. You know that life gets busy; even those of us who intentionally work to craft a slower, simpler life inevitably end up too busy or too tired some of the time. Post this master plan on the inside of a kitchen cupboard for easy access and show it to your capable family members! Ensure that you always have the necessary ingredients stocked in your freezer and pantry. Doing this for a simple list of lunch and snack ideas (both for you and your kids if you have them) too can remove temptation in the moment, lower stress, and support you in living healthy and happy. And P.S. don’t forget to make use of your crockpot (affiliate link) and consider throwing a few freezer meals into your deep freeze.
7. Now that you have spent the time ditching clutter, simplifying activities and meals, and creating a plan for self-care, pull out a weekly calendar and see if you can fit everything on it. Are there conflicting activities, is there any time planned out for meal prep, are you going to be able to get into bed at a reasonable hour? Have you been honest about the extra nights you tend to pour into working at home or your mental need for Netflix and snuggling on the couch? If you can’t see on paper (or your electronic calendar) exactly how this is all going to play out then you still have work to do. Don’t just hope for the best – sticking your head in the sand is a sure-fire strategy for stress. Be realistic. You cannot do everything in every season. You cannot be in 3 places at once.
Go back to step one again.
How do you want to feel this fall – frazzled and exhausted or calm and purposeful?
Once your weekly schedule has been established be sure to share it with anyone else concerned so expectations are clear. Finally, how do you want others to communicate to you their appointments – should your teens text you their work schedules or pencil things onto the calendar? How will you decide who gets the car when? Will you have a family meeting on Sundays to make sure that everyone is on the same page for the coming week? Figure this out now to avoid frustration or resentment later on.
And then work done, soak up the dregs of summer before stepping into fall joyfully.
For additional help, if you are tired of living distracted, cluttered and frazzled, you may benefit from my 30 days to CALM mini course.