Saturday, August 3, 2013

Jumping the Gun...

Have you read those how-to articles about getting to sleep faster and staying asleep longer?  You've read the tips, right?   
       *Reduce screen time a half-hour before bed.  
       *Exercise no less than four hours before bed.  
       *Turn down lights an hour before bed to lull your body 
         into a restful feeling.  

I love those tips - and one day I might slow down enough to put them into action.  I'm more of a jump-the-gun kind of person.  I kind of dive right in head-first and ask questions later.  Never mind the consequences.  

When back-to-school time rolls around each year, I inevitably start thinking of fall:  fall festivals, fall foods, fall smells, fall rain, fall hayrides, fall pumpkins, fall movies (Autumn in New York and You've Got Mail are among my favorites.)  

"Don't you just love New York in the fall?  It makes me want to buy school supplies.  If I knew your address I'd send you a bouquet of sharpened pencils."  (Joe Fox to Kathleen Kelly.) For me, buying school supplies is more of a reality than a sentimentality.  Although, not unlike Kathleen Kelly, I do love the smell of Scotch Tape.  

I have found that getting my family into a fall centered frame of mind takes a little creative manipulating, not completely unlike the sleep tips mentioned above.   Just when summer break comes to a screeching halt with the start of school I begin working a little mom magic with their senses.

I want to help my family transition easily into their back to school routines.  That means making my home a little bit cozier, a little warmer, a little less frenetic, a lot more soothing.

Here's what I mean:

1.  The week school starts I begin lighting pseudo-fall scented candles.  Not anything too obnoxious like Baked Pumpkin Pie or Fall Leaves, but something soothing and reminiscent of fall.  

As much as I love a good Yankee Candle, I've found that starting my family off with a strong scent too soon is too much.  They balk at the idea of fall.  If I start them with a soothing warm scent, they start getting that fall feeling, and their transition is much easier.  

Two of my favorites is are the MainStays brand, purchased for around $5.00 at Wal-mart.

The tri-scented Mulled Cider, Caramel Apple, and Apple Butter are all warm enough to invoke the feeling of fall without throwing everyone into it kicking and screaming.  

2. Once again I start to bake.  I know, it's kind of a no-brainer, but for me, it's different.  I have a gas oven and a house with a too-small air conditioner.  I don't bake during the summer.  Not at all.  So around the start of school I start baking up yummy treats.  This morning I made home-made blueberry muffins with cinnamon crunch topping.  The house smells a bit homier and the kitchen feels a tad warmer.

3.  I also love to bring out warm and snuggly blankets.  Last year, while doing my regular grocery shopping, I found a large bin full of these beauties for the amazing price of $7 each.  I couldn't believe the price, they were the right size, and for that price, even if they lasted only a year it was still a good deal.  Well, they've been through many washings and still look and feel amazing!  I don't put them directly on the sofa, I just place them in a little basket where they can be seen and used if necessary.

4.  One especially soothing trick I like is to switch out my music choices.  During the summer I like music that's fun and exciting and that causes me to stop and dance at any given moment.  But once back-to-school time wanders around, I change the CD's in my car to something a little more relaxing for that ride home after a long day at work and a stressful day at school.  A couple favorites were purchased at Target for around $10 each.  I figure people can enjoy the Holidays with Christmas music, I can enjoy the fall with Autumnal sounds as well.

5.  Last, but not least, we re-adjust our routines. It isn't easy going to bed and getting up early after you've spent the summer staying up late and waking whenever you feel like it.  So for two weeks prior to school, we re-adjust our bedtime schedules.  Instead of 10:30 or 10:45 p.m. bedtime, we take a cue from those sleep tips mentioned above and dim the lights, quiet the house, and start heading to bed around 9:00 or 9:30.  We don't enforce a 6:00 a.m. wake up call until absolutely necessary, but we do start waking the kiddos up at 8:00 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 7:00 a.m.... until it's time for that old alarm clock to sound and it's time to don our school uniforms once again.

Chores and daily schedules change, too.  The lackadaisical days of willie-nillie, free-falling gets a little more honed and refined.  Cross-country runners start jogging a mile or two.  Karate kids return to evening classes.  Mom starts keeping a consistent laundry routine...

This may seem like a little bit crazy, but if you've ever experienced the back-to-school breakdown, you'll see the benefit right away.  Somehow, when your house smells like fall, and sounds like fall,  your food is full of comforting fall flavors, your sofa cuddles a little warmer... you don't miss the summer so much, and you don't mind the change as badly.

Only By His Grace,


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