September 08 2016
Health & Wellbeing/Living in Brooklyn

Get Ready for the Demands & Delights of Fall

School has begun, there’s a brisk note in the air and time already feels as if it’s speeding up faster than Robert Downy Jr. at the Less Than Zero wrap party.

Fall is the best time of year in New York. But getting back into those demanding routines is a struggle that can make it hard to be thoughtful, proactive and organized enough to take advantage of some of the most incredible weather of the year.

I’ve barely been able to get anything done in the mere run up to the first day of school.  Which unfortunately came on the heels of a rough few weeks at work.  Which naturally coincided with having no babysitter.

But it is time to get it together: routines, food, money, day trips, holiday planning and more.  Here are my tips for launching the whole gang into Fall with gusto.

ROUTINE

Why are routines so hard, even though routines are what you need to make life easy?  It often comes down to not being able to get kids to sleep early enough, which makes the mornings harder than necessary.  My strategy: Early bed times for all of us.  That is the only solution to surviving the new school year.  Of course, that means getting dinner done earlier, which is the real trick.

MEALS

Meal planning and cooking is the absolute hardest part of a working parent’s day.  Now is the time to focus on a few quick and easy go-to meals and repeat as much as necessary until you get through September.  My strategy: Aim for lots of soups, which my picky children miraculously eat, and other things that reheat well like pasta and chicken cutlets.  I am going to give my rice cooker (one of the few kitchen gadgets that I find truly useful) a serious workout.  All meals must be kid and adult friendly – no cooking different things for everyone and no major experimenting this month.

SCHOOL CLUTTER

I deeply dread the deluge of school papers.  It’s always the hardest clutter to deal with.  I know there is only one solution for this. My strategy:  I am going to do my best to follow the old “one touch” rule: deal with every paper once. Instantly.  Sign the permission slip, write the check, place the book order, RSVP to the party (“no” if undecided, can always change to a “yes” later), discard all artwork that is not making it into the Gagosian Gallery.  And feel no guilt for not taking part in every optional activity, birthday party or fundraiser.

CLAIM YOUR WEEKENDS

Wave Hill Bronx, Fun fall activities
A woodland path at Wave Hill, The Bronx

There are always so many things I want to do in the fall.  Often the season goes by and I only do a fraction due to poor planning.  I always make a list of things I want to do, but this year I got a grip and slotted every activity onto the calendar.  Which made me realize, of course, that my list was far too long.  I couldn’t fit everything.  But looking at it in the context of real actual time means I’ll probably do more of the activities than I would have if I just improvised.  As much as I love having nothing on the calendar, sometimes it is a necessary evil.

This Fall, I want to check out out some places I have never been, like Wave Hill in the Bronx, which looks incredible.  I’d love to try some amateur bird watching in the park. There are many groups you can join and it’s free.  A corn maize is on the list — it’s been a few years since we’ve done one.  The big excitement for October is that my husband and I are planning a trip, just the two of us, to Maine to see Acadia.  I’ve never been to Maine and am so excited.

Fall inspiration, outdoor plants
My favorite for fall.

IMBIBE YOUR FALL INSPIRATION

The crisp, cool newness of Fall is delicious. I love indulging in all the Fall harbingers that, to me, are as cozy as a sweater.  I’m installing my favorite Fall plants outside one by one.  My playlist reminds me of the many October road trips that I’ve taken with my husband through the years.  We will definitely be spending the first cold, cloudy afternoon inside watching The Fellowship of the Ring.  And hot tea cannot come back into my life soon enough.

THE SUMMER DEBAUCHERY HAS TO END

At least for a little while. The constant drinking and socializing with friends and neighbors outside is one of my favorite things about summer, but it has to be held in check this month.  It throws everything else off.  My strategy: enjoy the cool September days outside after school, but dinner time is non-negotiable and no cocktails, whatsoever.  This will have the added benefit of saving money and calories.

HOLIDAYS

This will be my first debt-free Christmas since having our children.  I do not intend for it to be my last, so I am definitely going to start thinking about how I can approach holiday expenses more smartly, and spread them around, where possible.  In the past I’ve failed at buying gifts early, always regretting them by Christmas.  This year I’m only going to try to get some early gifts for my kids and they must be sure winners.  Board games and art supplies should be safe bets this year.  I bought several gifts last year that will be in this year’s stoop sale pile, which is a huge waste.

As usual, I am trying not to be overly-ambitious with Fall goals, or to set myself up for failure.  Just trying to get a few good habits going is no small feat.  Anthony Ongaro of Break the Twitch had such a great insight about habit forming in a recent post of his: Don’t miss two days.  I thought this was so apt. You won’t necessarily be derailed the first time you miss something.  But the second time has a far bigger chance of doing so. So I’m really contemplating this every day.

Fail or succeed, I’m happy the Fall routines are back.  Walking to school this morning felt great.  I can’t wait for more cool days, for orange leaves, for pants and sweaters, for ovens that are hot and full of good smells and for days spent on farms and hiking trails.

What are you looking forward to?

  • Ahhh, backpacks strewn everywhere and nagging the kids to go to bed. Gotta love the culture shock of the beginning of school. The first week for us was a couple of weeks ago, and it was rough. We’re just now starting to get somewhat of a routine down.

    I am ready to welcome cooler temps and hikes through the leaves. I am quite envious of your upcoming trip to Acadia. We visited two summers ago and LOVED Maine. Everywhere you look their is beauty. It’s like living in a postcard. I hope you have a great trip – definitely something to look forward to!

    Shucks…no cocktails? Maybe on the weekends?!

    • Thanks Amanda… I am so excited for Maine. The last time my husband and I had a weekend away together was to celebrate his 40th in Quebec – my gift to him. Being away together was like a dream so I can’t wait to do it again and be able to enjoy the outdoors without my little ones complaining about walking too much! I wish I had time to indulge in more research and planning, but oh well – Maine, you can surprise me! Yeah, cocktails need to be out for a while, even on weekends. We’re dieting – I’ve learned that a drinking diet easier than a food diet. : ) -Linda

  • Congrats on a debt free Christmas…that’s a great accomplishment (I hope to have that too, one of these days)

    I’m learning to deal with the back to school clutter too! There are just too many papers to deal with!

    • Thank you Lisa! I am so happy about it and yet terrified that Christmas will be the thing that undoes this accomplishment. And the school clutter is a nightmare. Plus, I am finding that the kids’ schools and activities are coming with a whole new kind of digital clutter as well… Our school has its own social media network we need to join to get news. Our after school program requires a special account to pay. Nope – no check or paypal, thank you. We need to have a Dept of Ed account to pay for school lunch. 3rd grade class has a Google group. Soccer team has another Google group. Had to get a “Hip Chip” account for teacher gifts… it never ends! My husband says I need to do a post on this issue alone. At least Cub Scouts keep it simple. Of course, the Cub Scouts know what it’s all about!

  • I agree with you about proper sleep schedules being so key. We’re pretty lax about bed times during the summer, but about a week before school starts, it’s time to get back into the routine. It’s funny, as our kids so often try to negotiate a later scheduled bed time. : )

  • I have such trouble with keeping the schoolwork under control. I’m trying the approach of taking pictures of most of it and then recycling, with a few pieces on the refrigerator.

    I’m a bit concerned about how our fall weekends have already filled up so quickly. I like some down time to just go for day hikes and enjoy the cooler weather, but we’re looking booked well into October.

    • I hear you, Emily – us too. I have taken a very cut-throat approach to any kid parties happening during a September or October weekend. We are only RSVP-ing yes if it’s a good friend. You have to say no to some things to make room for the important stuff…

      Linda

    1. ZJ Thorne 08:23pm 10 September - 2016 - Reply

      Your strategy sounds thorough. I hope that your family’s sleep schedule goes as well as you need.

      • Brooklyn Bread 10:31pm 12 September - 2016 - Reply

        Thanks ZJ. So far the whole thing is pretty much a disaster. But we are getting a little better each day. : )

        -Linda

    2. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe 10:19am 09 September - 2016 - Reply

      I have such trouble with keeping the schoolwork under control. I’m trying the approach of taking pictures of most of it and then recycling, with a few pieces on the refrigerator.

      I’m a bit concerned about how our fall weekends have already filled up so quickly. I like some down time to just go for day hikes and enjoy the cooler weather, but we’re looking booked well into October.

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:21pm 09 September - 2016 - Reply

        I hear you, Emily – us too. I have taken a very cut-throat approach to any kid parties happening during a September or October weekend. We are only RSVP-ing yes if it’s a good friend. You have to say no to some things to make room for the important stuff…

        Linda

    3. Mystery Money Man 10:00am 09 September - 2016 - Reply

      I agree with you about proper sleep schedules being so key. We’re pretty lax about bed times during the summer, but about a week before school starts, it’s time to get back into the routine. It’s funny, as our kids so often try to negotiate a later scheduled bed time. : )

      • Brooklyn Bread 10:21am 09 September - 2016 - Reply

        OMG seriously – how is it possible that every kid is such an accomplished litigator??

    4. Lisa @ Fun Money Mom 09:51am 09 September - 2016 - Reply

      Congrats on a debt free Christmas…that’s a great accomplishment (I hope to have that too, one of these days)

      I’m learning to deal with the back to school clutter too! There are just too many papers to deal with!

      • Brooklyn Bread 10:27am 09 September - 2016 - Reply

        Thank you Lisa! I am so happy about it and yet terrified that Christmas will be the thing that undoes this accomplishment. And the school clutter is a nightmare. Plus, I am finding that the kids’ schools and activities are coming with a whole new kind of digital clutter as well… Our school has its own social media network we need to join to get news. Our after school program requires a special account to pay. Nope – no check or paypal, thank you. We need to have a Dept of Ed account to pay for school lunch. 3rd grade class has a Google group. Soccer team has another Google group. Had to get a “Hip Chip” account for teacher gifts… it never ends! My husband says I need to do a post on this issue alone. At least Cub Scouts keep it simple. Of course, the Cub Scouts know what it’s all about!

    5. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 05:27pm 08 September - 2016 - Reply

      Ahhh, backpacks strewn everywhere and nagging the kids to go to bed. Gotta love the culture shock of the beginning of school. The first week for us was a couple of weeks ago, and it was rough. We’re just now starting to get somewhat of a routine down.

      I am ready to welcome cooler temps and hikes through the leaves. I am quite envious of your upcoming trip to Acadia. We visited two summers ago and LOVED Maine. Everywhere you look their is beauty. It’s like living in a postcard. I hope you have a great trip – definitely something to look forward to!

      Shucks…no cocktails? Maybe on the weekends?!

      • Brooklyn Bread 06:09pm 08 September - 2016 - Reply

        Thanks Amanda… I am so excited for Maine. The last time my husband and I had a weekend away together was to celebrate his 40th in Quebec – my gift to him. Being away together was like a dream so I can’t wait to do it again and be able to enjoy the outdoors without my little ones complaining about walking too much! I wish I had time to indulge in more research and planning, but oh well – Maine, you can surprise me! Yeah, cocktails need to be out for a while, even on weekends. We’re dieting – I’ve learned that a drinking diet easier than a food diet. : ) -Linda

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