While autumn is our family’s favorite season (we even got married in October because of it), my favorite times of the year are actually the transitions between them. There’s something rejuvenating and exciting about the change from one season to the next. When it comes to summer into fall, it’s the spark of magic as summer breathes its last breaths of warmth and sunshine as the leaves slowly take their opportunity to change into their earthy autumn tones. The sight of pumpkins and mums bursting with color and smell of sweet decaying leaves is great for resetting your attitude, too.
Strangely enough, when the earth goes about its quarterly shifts, our family tends to see our biggest transitions, too. I’ve mentioned that we’re expecting our second little one in November and recently told you all about our son’s change to a “big boy bed.” Throw on (hopefully) the completion of potty-training (I know we’ll have accidents, so I use “completion” very loosely), my heading back to my work at school with more duties than ever, and just the general aches, pains, and exhaustion that comes with pregnancy…and you can say that our family’s experienced plenty of transitions and adjustments!
So far, though, we’ve made preparations for all these transitions. Things have been pretty casual. But, now that we’re seeing the word “OCTOBER” coming at the end of the week, our heads are getting a bit scattered. We’ve definitely gotta pick up the pace so that it’ll be a more relaxed jaunt towards the finish-line come November!
We try to live a simplified life, so when stress hits hard, it’s best to take a deep breath, relax, and follow a few of my own tried-and-true tips.
Write it Out – First and foremost, a list can be your BFF. I know some people have a love-hate relationship with them (and I, for one, used to mock my mother for hers; seriously, she was obsessed, but now I totally get it). But they can really help you breathe and feel like you won’t forget something at the end of the day. In other words, you totally won’t have those wake-up-at-3am-with-worries moments. Ahhhh.
So, there are times when I’ll write out one long list only to re-write the whole thing. The reason for this? The first list is a total brain dump. It’s just there to get out whatever worrisome tasks I may have floating around in my brain. Then, I’ll organize that list into general areas: stuff that needs to be done in the nursery, important work tasks that must be figured out before I leave the joint, around-the-house chores, and so on. For some reason, seeing it separated and organized in this way helps me feel a little more on top of things.
Purge – Okay, I’ve talked a lot about purging STUFF, and, sure, with less to surround yourself, you’ll definitely feel calmer. (Heck, it’s one big thing on my to-do list at the moment.) But, in this case, I’m actually talking about purging your to-do’s.
In my case, I’m analyzing, truthfully, what NEEDS to be done before the baby comes. There’s not a lot as far as the baby is concerned, quite honestly, and that’s the main thing. Then, when creating the aforementioned to-do list, I’m figuring out what else I’d LIKE to get done. See? Two totally different beasts. Then, among the things I’d LIKE to get done, I ask my husband and those friends and family who have been offering assistance if they’d like to help out with a task or two. Whatever I’m left with, I’ll pick ones that I wouldn’t mind (or, gasp, would actually ENJOY) doing and leave the rest. Let’s call it donating. Sure. We’re donating the rest of our to-do list. 😉
Bye-bye, unnecessary stuff. Hello, feeling of accomplishing the important stuff.
Take Your Time – Now that you’ve figured out what needs to be done (and, truly, what doesn’t need to be done), set timelines for yourself to achieve them. Knowing there’s a flexible end in sight (read: we all know some of those projects that we expect to take 15 minutes can end up lasting three weekends, so allow for some leeway) helps to further alleviate that nagging feeling.
My husband and I both tend to have issues with this tip, fitting far too much in our mental schedules for a rare free Saturday and being disappointed when not everything gets checked off my list. But, it’s okay! Think about what can realistically be done (while accounting for things like, say, meal prep and toddler potty breaks) and jot down, for the whole family to see, what the goals are for the day. Then, put an asterisk next to the couple that you’d be happy getting DONE. If you have extra time in the day to get the others done, great. If not, figure out another time for them to fit.
And remember NOT to beat yourselves up about not being able to accomplish every single task. Relish the tasks you were able to get done and let the others roll off your back, knowing they WILL get done — just not today!
Don’t Forget Some Happy Time – When things are transitioning, it’s so easy to get caught up in the less fun side of the to-do list. It’s totally understandable; there are things that need to get done and only so much time to do them. But, don’t forget to manage the mental health of you and your family. No matter how busy or stressful times may get, there’s nothing like a little downtime as a family to reconnect and remember what matters most.
In our case, this can range from having one-on-one play time with our little guy to instituting a “tech free night” with my husband to enjoy a movie and homemade popcorn or completely normal, adult conversation. Even getting a pizza with my parents can have the ability to pull us out of the whirlwind of planning, prepping, packing, etc. Yup, strangely enough, my husband is actually most relaxed at my parents’ house, and our son loves any place with a large enough yard to run around or bird feeders to help fill. You just have to find what works for YOUR family.
I’ve even taken to working on a Sudoku puzzle at the end of the day to try to clear my head. It helps SO much, it’s nuts.
Do you have any transitions happening in your life, whether happy or sad? A big move? A new job? A wedding? A new baby? How are you handling the stresses that inevitably come along with these times? Any tips to share with us?