As she pondered the change in routine from summer ease to back-to-school rush, Lisa Hess realized she could look at things in a new way.
As I wrote this from my perch on a porch at the beach, August was less than a week away, and I was not ready to flip that calendar page. By the time you read this, it will already be August, and I'm sure I still won't be ready to engage in that seemingly simple action.
Why is it hard to turn a calendar page? Well, physically, it isn't. But, for me, August marks the end of summer and the return to a school mindset. Though classes won't start until closer to the end of the month, to me, turning the calendar page to August signals that it's time to leave leisure behind and begin preparations for the semester that lies ahead.
I follow enough teachers on social media to know I'm not alone. And it's not just the teachers who are setting up for success. When it comes to getting organized, the back-to-school season is probably second only to January and its New Year's resolutions. Parents chase down sales and school supply lists, trying to find the right tools at the right price and hoping against hope that this is the year the organizing magic materializes for their kiddos who struggle to put the right paper in the right (or left) pocket of the folder.
I've written before about organizing with kids, but that's not where I want to go with this post. Instead of talking about organizing stuff, I want to talk about organizing life.
I'm not ready for August because I'm not ready to leave the rest, relaxation, and freedom of summer behind. Like the Grinch, I want to stop the school year from coming (or a part of me does, anyway) but, like that green meanie, I can't make that happen. What I can do, though, is carry over a little bit of one season into the next.
For me, one of the best parts of summer is the luxury of a meandering start to the day: time spent journaling and reflecting. In the absence of time constraints, this process flows into reading, researching, writing, playing games on my iPad, and essentially doing a bunch of stuff I don't really have time to do on a work morning. The thought of switching gears away from all of this and into structured mornings is a large part of what makes me crabby when July turns to August.
As I thought about it, though, I realized that, instead of getting crabby about having to give all of that up, I can flip the question.
What part of my morning routine can I keep? How can I carry a little summer sunshine forward into a new semester? And is there any day of the week when I can actually have it all?
Huh. What a concept.
And, as it turns out, one that isn't so hard to put into action. The time I spend on my journal can easily be incorporated into work mornings; I've done it before. The extended time can certainly become a part of my weekend mornings and, some days, I can probably squeeze in a little of the reading before work. And if I can't, I can set it aside to read after work. Just because I do it all in one sitting in the summer, that doesn't mean I have to do it the same way in the fall.
I hear you morning people suggesting that I simply get up earlier. Ha. Not. Gonna. Happen. I mean, it is gonna happen (I have to get up earlier on work days), but getting up early enough to enjoy my routine all in one piece? For this night owl, that would suck all the joy out of that lovely morning routine. Breaking it into pieces and enjoying every last bite is much more my style.
You, on the other hand, might feel differently. The swath of summer sunshine you want to protect might be worth earlier mornings, later evenings, or carving out a little segment of time during some other part of the day.
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The swath of summer sunshine you want to protect might be worth earlier mornings, later evenings, or carving out a little segment of time during some other part of the day. #CatholicMom
What is your most treasured part of summer? How can you carry it with you into the new season ahead? Or is it time to swap it out for something that brings you joy in the new season we're entering?
Our routines and preferences didn't materialize overnight. We crafted them over time, through changes in life and changes in seasons. Sometimes, we need to shake up the routine.
Other times, we need to intentionally carry it forward.
Copyright 2023 Lisa Hess
About the Author
Transplanted Jersey girl Lisa Lawmaster Hess is the author of a blog compilation, three novels, and three non-fiction books, including the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.