Studying in our Tree

We are three weeks into September and I haven’t posted a blog since August. I started two new articles but didn’t create the time to finish and publish them. In the meantime, I fulfilled my duties as mom-of-2-school-aged-children, soccer mom, committee member, committee leader, 2nd committee member, writers’ group member and business start-up investigator.

In September the most important duty is “mom.” My kids loved coming home the first 5 days exclaiming, “we don’t have homework today, but YOU do!” As they pull out multiple forms each day covering medical, emergency contact, photo release, tell-me-about-your-child, photo payment and volunteer-for-this-committee requests.

September is also filled with new committee meetings, first-meetings-after-summer-sabbatical meetings, and kids sports meetings…er…practices and games.

Moms can feel the overwhelm of being pulled in multiple directions while trying to get used to the new year’s schedule. I’ve heard more than once, “September is the new year, not January.”

So true.

But this year felt a bit calmer than most Septembers, and I had to carve out some time in our busy schedule to think about this question: “Why is life running more smoothly?”

Here is what I discovered, and hopefully I’m not writing this too late in September for you to try some of the same things to make your busy life a bit calmer.

September Sanity Savers

1. Don’t expect to do anything other than school-focused activities. When the kids come home from their first few days at school, KNOW that you will have an hour’s worth of forms to fill out, and book your time to do this.

2. Keep a notebook by the computer to write down events. Since so many school notices are sent through email now, it only makes sense to write down the event name, date and time as you read the notice.

I use both sticky notes and notepads. Sticky notes are for quick calendar activities (which I then stick to the calendar until I write the details on it), and notepad notes are for activities which need a bit more detail… or just print out the notice and keep them all together.

3. Cover your fridge with notices. Accept that the front of your fridge (or cork board or wherever you post notices and reminders) will be covered with notices for now. When you have a moment, you can remove them and recycle or refile.

4. Regularly transfer your written event messages to one central calendar. Do this at least every other day. Sit in front of the TV in the evening and transfer the information then.

5. Say “yes” to activities and committees which stir your soul. When you do this, your busyness feels fulfilling instead of draining.

I just volunteered to lead a parent committee which will encourage our children and families to raise funds for foster children. CASA is Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. I worked with the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs for 5 years or so, and can see how an advocate may change the life of a child for the better. We are also going to buy backpacks and supplies to give to children that need them. Our children are relatively sheltered, and I look forward to helping to raise our kids’  awareness of the needs of others.

More importantly though, I told the Chair that I needed help – questions answered, people who have done it before, etc.

However, last year I volunteered to co-lead the “pizza committee” because my children love getting a slice of pizza for lunch once a week. My childrens’ smiles stir my soul as well, and pizza puts us in a happy place.

6. Ask yourself: How can some September activities help me to commit to my own sense of self? I told a friend in August that I had a new goal: It was time to come out from behind my computer and socialize with other people.

Since I established this goal, every activity that has kept me busy the past three weeks has helped me to accomplish this purpose. Even my writing has done this. If I didn’t have my “socializing” goal, I would have cancelled my attendance to my writers’ group, saying I was too busy. I enjoy connecting with my writer friends, and because of my goal, I didn’t miss out on this opportunity.

And finally…

7. Give yourself a break. Perhaps you need to let some commitments slide for a few days or a few weeks. Maybe you need to say “no”  to an invitation.

This blog was one of my commitments that I let slide temporarily (though I have plans to preschedule posts for next year, as I do for vacation time).

This may be the year that you teach your children to get their own lunch ready in the morning. In fact, this was something I taught my own children last year. They pack a drink, fruit or veggies, and a granola bar, and I do their sandwich or wrap.

This year the mornings seemed to flow with less effort. This morning I came down from my shower to see my daughter making her own wrap… oops, now that I think about it, I don’t recall what my son brought to school in his lunch bag. But I have to give myself a break. I think I’ve taught them both well enough that at least he won’t let himself starve (I hope). Also, I bought ‘lunchables’ for the first week (but don’t tell my nutritionist sister, they probably aren’t the healthiest lunch choice!).

September is a creature all on its own, but with a little organization, and easing up on normal expectations, we can get through it without major chaos or crisis. By October 1st, schedules settle down a bit and mothers can breathe a collective sigh of relaxation.

How do you stay sane when life gets busy? Please share your ideas with us.

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  • Cheryl Wahl Posted September 27, 2011 4:19 pm

    As the "nutritionist sister", I stay sane by giving myself permission to buy those easy (and not always healthy) foods every once in awhile and not feel guilty about it. It's the 80/20 rule, although I am more of a 90/10 person, eat healthy 80% of the time and allow the remaining 20% for indulgences. So, when life is crazy, order or make the easiest thing you can, then make sure to eat a few more veggies the next day.

  • Leigh Harris Posted September 28, 2011 5:37 am

    Hee hee. I remember you told me that exact rule when you visited in August. It helped me to feel better at the time, and does again. Thanks.

    By the way, the chicken/broccoli/quinoa dish from the quinoa cookbook you gave me is a hit! I love that I could make it early in the day and it is definitely part of that 80% 🙂 If anyone wants it let me (or Cheryl) know.

  • Grace Posted October 3, 2011 7:02 am

    Great suggestions Leigh! It sounds as if you are prepared and balanced and when I was raising my children I found if I was balanced then they were too.

  • Leigh Harris Posted October 3, 2011 10:12 am

    Thank you for your insight Grace. It is nice to remember those balanced moments.

    Yes, our sense of balance reflects on our children's behavior, doesn't it? Though we all have days of too many obligations, life feels better when we remember to take it easy on ourselves. And then our children sense that ease too.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • Carol And Stacy Posted October 11, 2011 2:31 pm

    Please post your recipe and share!
    Love the picture. My boys and husband love to climb trees.
    September is busy, maybe October will be a little calmer. 🙂

  • Leigh Harris Posted October 11, 2011 6:04 pm

    Good idea, Carol and Stacy! It might be a cookbook you'd be interested in.

    October is feeling a bit calmer, but November is full of amazing events and commitments again. Will try to keep you posted here about them. But one event – the Forever Family Foundation's conference – is selling out. Must be partly due to Theresa Caputo's new series, "Long Island Medium." Fun stuff!

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