The transition to the fall season, especially this year, has some of us feeling a little on edge. The therapists and team here have put together a list of ideas to help you with this transition.
Talk to your partner and children about the upcoming season. What do they have coming up at work and school the next few months? Any schedule changes you should know about or share with them? Write the schedule down for each member of the family. Make it visible! We can forget so quickly once things get busy. Schedules and routines get thrown out (shifting is often necessary, but throwing them completely out can leave us flailing). Realistically, we just can’t remember everything. Having a centralized calendar can be helpful because everyone knows there is one place they can go to find out the “plan.”
Consider throwing a party to celebrate the “end of summer” with a candlelight dinner, back to school shopping, a scavenger hunt to fill kids backpacks, a race to see who can get ready the fastest, or one last sleepover or swim party to kick off the new school year. Whatever “celebration” feels like for you and your family, take the time to make it happen.
Help everyone prepare for the transition from summer to school schedule by having a back-to-school boot camp. The week before school starts, talk through the new schedule as a family and start gradually implementing your school schedule into your day. If your kids have been sleeping in, ease them back into a school day wake up time, and have them get ready in the morning for the day – get dressed, eat, breakfast, pack a lunch, etc. If everyone has been staying up late, bring back a bedtime routine to help prepare for the next day and get to sleep earlier. If screen time has been all day through summer, start to limit the screens a bit more each day. If you can, adjust to your fall sleep routine a week or two before the season starts. Falling asleep and waking up at regular times does wonders for our mood and general health. Typically with the turn of the season, we can add things to our weekly schedules that may impact our sleep routine. Keeping it regular and adjusting to it in advance can be a helpful way to weather the changes well.
Our brains tend to have a negativity bias towards the past (this keeps us safe because remembering “bad” things helps us to avoid them in the future) so it takes intentional effort to make room for remembering the positives. By reflecting intentionally, we can remember the good things that have happened, and create hope for the upcoming season. You can do this as a family, as a couple, on your own or with close friends. Reflect on the highlights from the summer season and project your hopeful expectations for the fall. Check in on your goals, New Years Resolutions, or Word of the Year if you completed one. You’re a little over halfway through the year, what adjustments need to be made in order to hit your goals? There’s still time to make things happen. Aligning with your yearly goals at the beginning of each season will help you manage your time towards that end.
Use mealtimes to check in with how everyone is feeling. “What were your highlights of the summer?” “What were you most grateful for this season?” “How are our family ethics and desires going to play out this fall?” “What will be new?” “What will be the same?” “What are you looking forward to, and what are you nervous about?” Help everyone work through anxiety by setting some personal goals for the first week and the first semester; write them out and post them somewhere you can all see as a reminder so you can support each other.
Enjoy the last bits of summer with friends and in season fruits and vegetables; care for your body and soul with summer foods and with time spent in your community, as time for connecting with others naturally dips in the fall season. Put away any summer items not needed any longer, put away summer clothes, etc. It will make you feel fresh and ready to tackle the new season.
Anytime there’s change, there’s bound to be a loss of some sort, even if it’s a “good” loss (like the loss of triple-digit temperatures). Grief follows loss, so know that as the seasons change, there may be a variety of emotions. Accept the emotions, feel them, express them, and know that by feeling, this is in part, the way we adapt to change.
Sometimes transitions can be hard. Likewise, the holidays that come in the fall can be difficult. It is so important for us to be honest with ourselves about how we are doing with the transition. It can be so helpful to get support. Talk it through with a trusted friend or a mental health professional.
Prepare to give everyone, including yourself, a lot of grace. Transitions are hard on everyone, so give everyone time to get their bearings for the new year.
In the meantime, we here at the Phoenix Counseling Collective are also preparing ourselves and our loved ones for this transition as well. We are in this together.
Thank you for being on this journey with us.
~The Team at The Phoenix Counseling Collective.