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We’ve had such a great summer that now we’re all dreading the fall routine. The kids don’t want to be back at school and I don’t want to go back to the madness of juggling work and driving to and from activities all the time. I’m feeling more down than usual this fall, and it’s only just begun. Can you help?
I’ve grown to love the space between drop off and pick up
I love summer too, it’s my favourite season for sure and I’m always a little let down when its over. But to feel depressed about a new season tells me you need to make some modifications to your schedule and your approach.
Just as every yoga instructor reminds practitioners to honour their growing edge in class, we parents have to remember to listen to our limitations and work within our capabilities. If you’re dreading your schedule, you may be trying to jam too much into your life, and in so doing, failing to reserve any time for yourself. We live in a culture of human doers, where we’re rewarded for doing and producing as much as we can, often at the expense of our happiness.
Your vision of the fall is lacking enjoyment, and in order to be a fulfilled human being, you need both work and play in your life. I wonder if you can carpool with neighbours or cluster activities in the same area of town to decrease driving time. I’ve grown to love the space between drop off and pick up as it gives me time to go for a quiet walk or a tea while I wait. Look at your schedule and see where you can insert some self-care into the in between moments. At the end of the day, you may also need to revisit the number of activities your children are participating in if the schedule is just too rigorous for you. Yes, you’ll still be a good parent, maybe even a better one by factoring your own needs into the equation.
The transition from summer to fall can be destabilizing as we move into cooler, windy weather with less sunlight. To keep yourself mentally balanced throughout the fall, try exploring mindfulness practises that calm chaotic thoughts and anchor your mind in the beauty of the moment. In order to maintain physical wellbeing (which directly influences your mental health), it’s time to start incorporating warming, nourishing, easily digestible foods into your diet like stews, soups and herbal teas. And of course, exercising outdoors fills the lungs with oxygen and baths the body in sunlight, which brightens the mood as well, so take it outside!
Carpe diem, or seize the day, is a terrific motto, reminding us that each day is an opportunity to do something fun.
In my 35-year teaching career, I counselled many new educators and something I shared at the beginning of each school year is the practice of indifference. Instead of moping around at the end of the summer (which I used to do when I was younger), I learned to view the transition without preferences. I would relate to this time as neutral as I would if I were to take off one pair of shoes and put on a different pair. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different.
People, generally speaking, resist change, preferring that things stay the same and predictable. Change can be unnerving, especially for those who are susceptible to anxiety, because there are unknown moving parts. But change can also be very healthy because it keeps life fresh and interesting. We are meant to grow and evolve, and we tend to do our best growth through change. Why don’t you, as a family, sit down and identify what you’d all love to see come out of this new season. Not only does this ignite anticipation for the upcoming season, it also presents an opportunity for family members to support each other in their dreams and goals.
Within your family meeting, identify what fun means to everyone and then, based on the answers, plan a family night during the week to do fun things, instead of waiting for the weekends to enjoy life. We claim Wednesdays as our time together, where we’ll go for a hike or a skate followed by dinner out. Carpe diem, or seize the day, is a terrific motto, reminding us that each day is an opportunity to do something fun.
Mindfulness teaches that much of our suffering comes from clinging to a past reality that can’t be reproduced. Every moment can only be experienced once, which is why we always encourage our readers to get present and stay there. We all love the happy times, like barbecues on the back deck, walks along the beach, dreamy sleepy mornings etc. and we tend to attach to them. But no one can duplicate an exact moment twice, because each moment is a once in a lifetime, stand-alone experience. This can be an exciting realization we have so many brand-new moments to look forward to.
When my children remorse about summer being over, I turn their attention to the amazing things they have in store, like Thanksgiving and Halloween, etc. Instead of indulging in thoughts of dread, consider the idea that you’re going to be delighted by life, because life is always dropping sweet surprises into our laps, we just have to recognize them when they arrive.
As Deepak Chopra once said, “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.”
Blair Abbass and Jenny Kierstead are certified therapists, award-winning educators and partners in life and business. They are the co-founders of Breathing Space Yoga Studio/Teacher Training, Yoga in Schools and Girl on Fire. They have been married for 17 years, but who’s counting.
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