Fall is a wild season at our house of soccer, cool evenings with the kids begging to ride bikes after dinner, and the packing lunchboxes, midmorning snacks and after-school snacks. There are so many snacks!
For as long as I can remember, the fall has been a busy season for work, then days that lead into the candy holidays (also known as Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter-see how quickly my brain jumps from September to April?!) and seems to happen in a blink.
It’s easy to become self-centered and stuck in our worlds of to-do lists, routines, and habits. All things that are good, important, and delightful, but we can’t be hermits.
In this season of life when our family is moving from South Carolina where we’ve been living for the last 2 years, to Columbus Ohio, it feels fitting to push aside the to-do lists to check in on our people. To take a temperature on how everyone is doing, to let them know that even amid mountains of boxes we remember and value them.
We have lots of people- our favorite librarians, our framily in Michigan, our siblings scattered from coast to coast, and our much-beloved teachers we’re preparing to leave behind. We have friends who listen to our rambling Marco Polos and friends who check in with the “Did you see this?” text messages.
We have so many people we could focus on, but in this season here are the 3 people I want to place center stage. And because life is busy I need an easy game plan to help me from getting distracted or overwhelmed.
This will be our second moving in a little over 2 years and our kids are real champs. I could brag on and on for days about how well they did keeping our house “show ready” for the 18 days before it sold. (Full disclosure: There was one morning and a wet towel on the floor that almost did me in, but we bounced back.) As any parent knows, feelings are simmering below the surface that JUMP out in the way of talking back, tantrums about socks, and a sense we’re walking on pins and needles.
I’ve been thinking about how we can make the transition smooth for the kids, but that doesn’t add any unnecessary pressure on us to juggle another thing. You know, cause I’m the Mom who wants to hunt down the last soccer drills camp before the frost, create a Saturday morning breakfast tour of all the new donut spots, or host a neighborhood happy hour on our second weekend in town.
My connection game plan: Instead, I want to focus on our core basics: Dinner question cards, Friday night family movies, Saturday family game night, and our evening read-aloud routines. No surprise to you, that we have a regular reading routine since we love reading to the kids. Thanks to the pandemic, we have Friday night family movies, and thanks to our game-loving 5-year-old we have Saturday game nights. It’s the dinner question cards that have been a feature favorite over the last year. We have loved the “Questions for Humans: Parents & Kids” and the Open Joy’s “Let’s Talk!” set to act as a jump start for dinner conversations beyond “Did you have P.E. today?” I hope that these moments of consistency and connection open the doors for conversation about all the feelings that come with moving, being the new kid, and not being able to wear shorts in April.
I’m going to have to make a T-shirt that expresses my love for teachers. They’re the very best! I was thinking of my kiddo’s teacher the other day and how I’m not sure how she manages to care for 20 students plus the 9 hatching chicks in her classroom. This entire thought did me in. She’s my shero.
As we leave our much-beloved teachers here in South Carolina, I’ve been thinking about the teachers that we will have in Ohio and how to work to build those relationships with them. More on that over here.
My gratitude and encouragement game plan: To our teachers here in South Carolina, I want to say thank you with a note from me. I usually hide behind the kids as our gifters, but I think it’s important that our teachers hear me from this time around. I’ve pulled out a small stack of cards before packing away my office and I’ve set aside some time to tell them how they’ve impacted our children & our family. For our new teachers in Ohio, we’re sticking with the plan that always works, which is to gift our Diverse Readers Tote Bag and a note to introduce our family since we’re long past “Meet the Teacher”. In an era of book banning, I want our teachers to know how much we value diverse books and also that we want to be their cheerleaders.
A special gift: In the spring, a customer ordered 10 Chase Light & Hope Sun Catchers to give to teachers and I smiled at the thought of the classrooms shining with rainbows from morning until sunset. The best part is, there’s no need to wrap this gift. Tuck in a card or slap a Post-it note on it with your one sentence. Teachers won’t care that it isn’t fancy, they get us…they are us because what matters most is your words. We gifted the sun catchers to our related arts teachers (think Music, PE, and Science Lab) in the spring, so we’ll gift these to our grade teachers and a Listen Learn Love button for their lanyards to our related arts teachers. This way they remember the boys and know that we’re cheering them on from afar!
Friends in Seasons of Grief:
Grief is sneaky. Supporting our friends who are grieving the loss of children, who are grieving a life they thought they would have, a divorce or even grieving their parents as the holidays are approaching. Whatever it is, there isn’t ever a day in which our friends need to know we care for them.
My encouragement game plan: Depending on the circumstances, sometimes a simple “thinking of you” is all they need to know. Consider how their love language (a la Gary Chapman) and how you can communicate love, care, and concern in a way that speaks volumes.
A special gift: I think you’d agree, that words speak volumes, but even a small gift can spark someone’s day. Gift a book, or a journal for the internal processors, or bundle your own set of stickers into a card that they can place wherever they need a gentle reminder. Grab crisp apples, caramel dip (kudos if you make it), and a half gallon of cider to drop off. Or bake an extra cookie or two and ring the doorbell for a sweet ding-dong ditch.
It’s easy to hunker down, keep our heads low, and focus on what’s in front of us, and there’s a time and a place for that, but it’s just as important to remember that we can do this life alone. (If you need this reminder, read more here.) We need one another. Fostering relationships in the here and now is part of the relational investments we make for down the road when we need a friend and an ally to stand by our side.
Who are you setting your laser focus on this fall to stay connected with? Would love to hear and cheer you on.
In this with you,