As the slow, dog days of summer come to a close and the fall is upon us, our minds begin to shift towards our back-to-school routine and family flow. Now, our fall routines and schedules likely look a little different this year due to COVID-19, but there are still some ways we can use this change of season to reignite and refine our goals and habits.
It can be challenging to not let our mood and behaviors be dictated by the shift in seasons. Instead of letting ourselves slide into the shorter, darker, colder days of fall and winter that I think we all dread, we can instead view this shift in seasons as a time to jump start healthy habits to carry us through the remainder of the year.
It’s easy for our healthy habits to take a back seat during the summer time…and that’s totally okay! In fact, I think for many of us, 2020 has caused a lot of our healthy habits to take a back seat due to all this year has held. If you’re anything like me, it’s been a struggle since March when all of the craziness began and our lives were turned upside down.
Our routines and habits should shift in the summertime. I am not saying they should all disappear entirely either, but summer is the season for margin and to live a little slower and savor a little deeper. Those three to four months of the year are precious! So sit back, enjoy, and live a little.
But with summer in the rear view mirror and school and with fall ahead, it’s the perfect time to reevaluate schedules, routines, and habits. Because after all, we can’t live in summer mode all year long.
So, how can you fall back into good habits this school season? Here are some tips for how you can fall back into good habits in your home, body, and soul this Fall.
HOME: Create Morning and Evening Family Routines and Systems.
I don’t know about you, but life runs so much smoother when we live by routines. I am a believer in living a lifestyle of flexible routines. It’s important to build in margin for the moments when life happens and things don’t go as planned, hence the flexible piece of “flexible routines”. But we can’t live each day flying by the seat of our pants either. How do you find a healthy, practical, and attainable balance? Enter systems. Maintaining a lifestyle of flexible routines is possible through the creation and implementation of systems. What do I mean by systems? I mean creating daily habits that keep things moving around the home and with your family. Systems and flexible routines make daily life predictable, practical, and gives us more bandwidth for purpose filled days. When the necessary tasks of life are built into our days, it gives our head and heart more space to be emotionally present and to enjoy our time together because we know we have a plan in place to get the daily things done that need to get done. And don’t be afraid to include your children in the implementation of these systems! Sit down as a family and discuss how each person can contribute. Allow your children to take part in truly being a part of the family and contributing and taking on more responsibilities. It will empower them and also build a spirit of unity and teamwork among your family.
Here is an example of a morning and evening system that you and your family can implement and adhere to for more joy filled days. Obviously this is just an example and you can choose the tasks/chores that are important to your family to consistently maintain each day so that you can love each other better under the roof of your home you all share.
Morning: Make the Bed, unload the dishwasher, quick tidy, family morning prayer time before everyone heads out for the day.
Evening: Dinner clean-up, quick tidy before bed, family reading time, prep backpacks, lunch boxes, and shoes for an easy morning the next day.
BODY: Fit Family Fun.
What if we shifted our thinking to simply more activity and less exercise. You don’t need to move within the walls of a formal gym for your movement to be formative. Take it outside. And while you are at it, bring the family with you. With the heat winding down, now is the perfect time to take an evening stroll post dinner or play ball outside after school. Or you could do one of my all-time favorite fall activities- take the family apple picking. It’s a great way to get in steps, eat yummy, fresh produce, and spend quality time together.
Moving together as a family is a win-win for everyone. It helps you stay in shape and find the time to exercise, a common barrier for a lot of moms, and it helps your kiddos burn off energy from the school day. Plus- you get to do it together, which is always fun! What a great way to teach your children about stewarding their body and health well starting at a young age.
SOUL: Set social media boundaries and socialize.
Social media is a blessing and a curse. While it is a great way to connect and remain in touch with family and friends from afar, it can very easily run our days if we don’t set boundaries around screen time. If we are not mindful and aware, our screens can take precedent over the people right in front of us. Take some time to think about and examine your relationship with social media and your phone and set realistic goals as you enter into the fresh, fall season. And if you need a little help along the way and some accountability, iphone has a ‘screen time’ app where you can set time limits for certain apps such as Facebook and Instagram. These limits have tremendously helped me to set my phone down more often, look up, and be present.
One of my favorite quotes and mantras to live by is that said of Annie Dillard: “How we live our days is how we live our lives.” This truth should permeate our everyday decisions and help us to keep running the race of healthy, positive, and life-giving routines and habits. I don’t know about you but I want to look back at my life when I am 80 years old and know that I lived each day with purpose and presence. I want to know that I ran the race well despite whatever hurdles I had to hop over. Living a lifestyle of healthy habits requires discipline and hard work. It takes effort to establish these routines and what is most valuable to your family, but the hard work on the front end is well worth the feelings of freedom and simplicity on the back end.
Be graceful with yourself and your family as you enter into a new season and work to establish new habits. We as a family sit down and re-evaluate our systems and routines a few times a year. As seasons change, both physically and metaphorically, it’s important to recognize that and adjust accordingly so that everyone can thrive in their unique spaces while still maintaining a healthy and close family unit.
While it’s sad to say so long to summer, I hope you feel a newfound inspiration to create healthy habits for yourself and your family going into this new fall season and the remainder of 2020. This year is not over yet, so don’t throw in the towel entirely just yet. The fall is one of my favorite seasons because of it’s golden beauty, crisp air, and many opportunities for gatherings. Embrace this new season for all of its beauty and make the most of these last precious months of 2020. Who knows…your 2020 may redeem itself during these last few months of the year?! It’s worth a shot- your physical and mental health depend on it.