Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Tough Season

Fall is a challenging time for our family - and by fall, I mean mid-August through mid-November. At this time of year everything hits us.  It's the time of year when my husband "disappears" into his work (he has a demanding job all year round, but it's inflexible during these three months).  I'm starting a new school year. The kiddos start new grades and adjust to new teachers, new classmates, and a return to the school routine.  We also have our beloved soccer season.

Taken independently, any one of these demands would feel challenging, but piled on together, it's a flood.  

You would think that nearly a decade into handling these demands as parents, we would have it mastered...and you would be wrong.

In Fall, I tuck my head and run, pushing emotions to the side. It's super healthy. I simply don't have the time or the space to handle my own emotions. Family dinner becomes a rush of quick check-ins with the kids and then a transition to the bedtime process.  Couples conversation? Pshawwww, in Fall, we are all about the checklist conversation. What tasks need to be completed? What appliances are broken (because, invariably, during this time of year, we have one broken appliance)?  What other mini-emergency do we need to tackle?  

Fall is survival mode.

And it's not pretty.

We are two weeks out of our "tough season," I finally feel slightly recovered. Granted, having a fully functional washing machine has a lot to do with that.  I feel recovered enough to know where we went wrong this time - each year's errors are delightfully different.

Here's my checklist for our next tough season, whether it's our usual time of year or something brand new.

  1. Avoid overcommitting - maybe it was the "return to normal" after months of pandemic panic, or maybe it was my tendency to say yes to all the things, but the anxiety inducing pace of our schedule added to the insanity.
  2. Make time to talk to your partner - I do have a partner in my life, and we did not make time for real conversations over the tough season.  We got up, went to work, raced through after-work commitments, ate together, and after getting the kids to bed, zoned out to TV. I don't fault us for the choice, but I want to be more intentional about that time together next time.
  3. Schedule downtime - a close cousin to the first item on the list, but different. This isn't only about limiting commitments, it's about not having any at all.  We all feel so much better after a weekend day at home, and I need to remember that.
  4. Get enough sleep - or, maybe I should say, go to bed on time. When I sacrifice sleep to get through my to do list, no one is happy, and the same is true for my whole family. This year, the kids actually asked to go to bed earlier, and that adjusted the adult bedtime, too. We are better people when we go to bed on time.
  5. Ask for help - sometimes I'm more successful than others - at one point, I asked for help on a chore, and only the toddler helped, but at least I'm getting better at asking. Whether I need help with a kiddo pick up, need a break from bedtime, or need a helper with household chores, striking martyr from my list of characteristics is crucial. I cannot do everything, and it's okay to say so.
I know there are dozens more ways I can change how we handle our tough seasons, and I also know  was one of our toughest seasons. Taking only five ideas into the future feels like something I can manage.

So, cheers to walking out of the tough season...straight into the holiday season.

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