You’ve read all the articles on getting organized, you’ve made one last-ditch effort at menu planning and may have even made it to Costco to buy a case of juice boxes and 10 lbs of pork tenderloin. Or, you may have decided the best strategy is to lie by the pool until a family member comes to drag you kicking and screaming into the Fall. Here are a few tidbits to remember as you slide on into the busy-ness that fills our Autumn. . .

  • Routine can be refreshing and reassuring. Sure, summer is a great change of pace, but most people relish the sameness of the fall routine. Find comfort in knowing that Monday is always soccer, Tuesday always Cub Scouts, and on Wednesdays, you can eat supper at church. Perhaps a shift in mind set is in order — it’s not so much about stressing over your frantic busy-ness as it is about enjoying the variety and spice of life, right now, the way things are.
  • Consider scaling back. Does little Suzy really have to participate in Girls Scouts, Tae Kwon Do, soccer and chorus? Especially if multiple children are involved, perhaps no more than two extracurricular activities per child is a gracious plenty. Remember, they still have school work and church activities. Oh, and what about just play time? It’s not so much about keeping up with the Joneses as it is about keeping YOUR family intact and sane.
  • Allow plenty of time. If you start every school day in a frenzy trying to pack lunches and get the kids out the door before the bus rumbles by, set your alarm for 15 minutes before everyone else is due to rise. You can get a lot accomplished in this short amount of time, especially if you are (blessedly) alone! Or use that time to enjoy solitary devotions or meditation and prepare yourself mentally and spiritually for the day.
  • Reassure your children that “all will be well.” The first week or two of school is stressful for everyone. Your child is working hard to adapt to a new environment at school and his or her days can ofttimes be full of disappointment, confusion, frustration, and embarrassment. Get the “blow-by-blow” by asking “so, what happened at school today?” and then being willing to listen to the answer. All of it! Likewise, be willing simply to provide a comforting presence if your little introvert doesn’t open up about his or her fears and insecurities. Kids intuit our emotions — we’re all stressed if Mom is stressed! So work to project serenity and calmness, even when you are ready to fling yourself out the window, screaming.
  • Reinstate those rituals. Nighttime prayers, blessings, morning devotions — these family rituals tend to go by the wayside with the excitement and variety of summer. Gear it back up. Encourage your child to develop his or her own comforting spiritual rituals. My 10-year-old son says the exact same prayer every night, word for word. Yes, I wish he’d mix it up a bit and perhaps expand his definition of prayer (God as Santa!), but I recognize that his current prayer is really a completely necessary security ritual about banishing his many fears. We’ll take it, for now.
  • Watch and love them. When my daughter was 10 days old, my poor husband arrived home from a long day of work to find me still in my pajamas, with dirty dishes in the sink and no discernible signs of any productive work whatsoever. “What did you do all day?” he asked incredulously. I looked at him, exhausted and ticked after a long day of caring for a newborn, and held up my left hand. “I cut the fingernails on this hand. Any more questions?” As the kids get older, we still have many days when we feel like nothing of any significance has really been accomplished. But I went on to tell my husband . . . “She’ll only be 10 days old today. Tomorrow, this day will be long gone. The dishes can wait.”  Your children are who they are today for just today. They will be marching out your door in no time. Watch and love them as they grow. (Though honestly, the dishes can’t wait forever. We learned that later.)
  • Be grateful. Day after day of packed schedules, hurried meals, late arrivals, and hurt feelings are still all part of this beautiful messiness we call living. “This is the day that the Lord has made — let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Thank you, Lord.

~Ruth Cole Burcaw is a wife and mom who owns her own business and serves on the Children and Family Life Commission for the Moravian Church, Southern Province. Most mornings, she finds herself in great need of caffeine.