Hey friends! Let's talk about September for a quick sec....
We just had a week of crazy high temps - the warmest all summer - and while my brain wants to be thinking about pumpkin spice latte's (they're here!!) it just can't seem to get past the hot, wet blanket of humidity outside.
September, you are such a tease. You taunt me with one week of glorious fall weather, in which I begin to pull out my boots and favorite sweaters....and then you swiftly crush my autumn dreams, snatching back those crisp mornings as you deliver another two weeks of frizz inducing misery.
It happens every year, so let's just call it like it is. You're summer. My brain will always want you to be fall, but you're not. You're the transition month and I'm trying not to hate you. Especially with my favorite month-child October right on your heels.
You steal my joy with your wackadoodle weather and you push my every limit by requiring early wake-ups for school and some sort of organization lest I drown in paper correspondence and laundry. I don't always want to simply survive you, September, but I think you can see the struggle.
OK. I feel better. Is September messing with anyone else out there?
It's rough enough transitioning from lazy summer days to having to be out the door at a certain time (even though we all crave the return of a structured routine). But throw in the tease of fall weather in between mostly blazing days and I feel like I'm merely trying to avoid the fetal position.
We're three weeks into school and clearly we haven't yet hit our groove. I'm certain our 5 year old was attempting some America Ninja Warrior move when he fell off the monkey bars at recess, breaking both bones in his wrist just one week into school. So, maybe we'll take a pass for needing a bit longer of an adjustment period.
The biggest struggle I have (aside from my toddleresque attitude toward the weather), is that fall brings a certain boost of energy with it. I've always preferred the cooler months and when school hits, an organizational kick tends to come with it.
But of course I don't tackle this in any sort of reasonable way. It's like a new years resolution on steroids. With the start of school I determine that I will.....
-get up early before the kids and have quiet time before they wake up
-prepare all the things the night before
-work out 5 days a week
-meal plan and reign in our grocery budget
-get into a regular cleaning routine
-assign a time for work/blog related tasks
-assign a time for personal stuff like responding to emails, reading, etc.
-keep in better touch with friends
-ORGANIZE MY LIFE
All good things, all good things, right? But slightly intense when you haven't been doing any of them consistently for awhile.
I've tried many ways of doing this in the past, from scheduling our day down to the minute (too much rigidness, much stress), to allowing the day to flow naturally from one thing to the next (not enough structure, mucho chaos).
I will often draw up a schedule I think will work, only to find myself overwhelmed and defeated. I tend to fall into two traps and this year I'm making a conscious effort to address those problems.
Problem #1: Creating a schedule that looks good on paper, but doesn't play well to our strengths or natural tendencies/preferences.
Any time you make a change to your routine or create new habits, it takes time. There's a transition period in which your body is fighting and shouting profanities as you roll out of bed at the unfamiliar hour of 6 am. This is the normal discomfort of developing a new habit. But there is also the pain that comes from working against your natural rhythms/makeup.
Case in point - I am not a morning person and never will be. The difficulty is not just in waking at an early hour, it simply takes me a long time to actually wake up. No matter the time I get out of bed, it always takes a good 30 min of being up and about until I'm awake enough to have my head in the game. But my life simply doesn't allow me to sleep in as late as I would like. I have no choice but to change this part of my day. However, since I know I'm not a morning person, I've learned that I can make things easier or harder on myself by what I schedule for the morning.
If I leave showering, getting dressed, making lunches, checking backpacks, and finding everyone clean socks until the morning, well...just say a prayer for my poor children. We won't be off to a good start.
Instead: Create a daily routine that meets the requirements of our weekly obligations, in a way that doesn't make us crazy.
Some things are non-negotiable (work/school times, lessons/extra curriculars, naps). I write those in first and then look at my flexible items. Where would they best fit in the schedule? If I'm not sure, I start paying attention to how I feel after certain activities.
A lot of parents take their kids to school wearing their workout clothes and head straight to the gym after school drop off. I thought this would work great on the days that Jack goes to preschool and I get a little break to myself during Liv's morning nap. I could drop him off, come back, put the baby down for a nap, and squeeze in a workout.
But I don't really have time to workout and take a shower. Which means I end up staying in workout clothes and then try to squeeze in a shower at some point during the day....and then try to find time to dry my hair....and then another few minutes to maybe put on some make up. And then I feel as thought I've basically spent the whole day just trying to get dressed.
This may be just fine for some people, but I'm not in a great mindset when I go through the day this way. I've learned that I feel so much better and somewhat accomplished when I get up and get dressed. It's really hard for me to get going in the mornings, so getting dressed forces me to wake up just a little bit more and be ready for whatever the day requires.
Problem #2: LET'S DO IT! The overzealous, cold turkey approach.
This will certainly work for many, but I've come to accept that I do not experience much success with this method. I'm a perfectionist and put a lot of pressure on myself. When I feel like I'm not measuring up or not succeeding, I tend to curl up in a hole incapable of doing anything. #ohthedrama
I end up doing a whole lot of thinking about what I want to be doing, and not a whole lot of actual doing.
Instead: Focus on one change to the routine each week.
Now obviously, I have to go through an entire day, but where in the past I would have jumped into a totally new routine trying to fit in ALL the new things, this time I'm refining one thing at a time. #avoidscheduleschock
By default, week one was all about waking up early. How long does it take to form a new habit? 2 weeks? Who knows. After 3 weeks it still hurts to wake up early, but I'm actually getting out of bed after only one snooze on most days. Occasionally, my morning person of a better half has to get me out of bed, but the 6 am alarm is not as much of a shock as it was a couple weeks ago.
Last week I played around with how to fit in that elusive work out. While my day is a thousand times better when I start by getting dressed and ready, I also feel much better when I exercise a few days a week. I have some back issues and am really feeling the strain from my awesome postpartum abs (read: zero core strength).
I played around with how many times a week, what time of day, etc. I still haven't totally cracked this nut, but so far, the best compromise seems to be a workout later in the day and a shower at night. That evening shower also helps me decompress from the day and is one less thing I have to do in the morning.
This week I'm going to work on meal planning (like maybe actually having some sort of a plan) and a better blogging/writing routine. I have a hard time working in small chunks, especially when it comes to writing. Which is sort of unavoidable at this point in my life, but I'm going to try doing the bulk of my post writing on the weekends. That would leave other blogging tasks that can be tackled in small doses (photo editing, projects, social media, etc) for the weekdays. Has anyone else has success with this?
We're also taking this approach with the kids. Because the only bigger non-morning person than the mama around here, is a blond haired third grader. Those first weeks we worked on getting the kids to bed at a decent time, setting out clothes the night before, and adjusting to the new wake-up time.
Then we played around with the best time/place for homework, and not leaving a trail of shoes, backpacks, and lunchboxes in the middle of the floor. Seriously. This one might break me....the irony of the empty hooks and shoe cabinet surrounding the littered floor. Oy.
But we'll get there! A little bit at a time. We're never going to stick to a schedule perfectly and life is such that we constantly need to adjust. But having a good daily rhythm can allow space for all those things we have to do and most of the things we want to do.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by new routines and busier days, maybe choosing just one thing to focus on for a few days will help you feel a little less overrun. I give you permission to let the rest go for a bit.
Has anyone else been feeling this overwhelm? Is the weather making anyone else crazy? What's the biggest adjustment for you during fall?
Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!