Fall is almost here, and for most of us, the change of season will be welcomed as a chance for a fresh start. Here in Florida, fall is mostly in our head, but we look forward to it anyway. Even in this crazy year, the start of school along with cooler and shorter days signals a time to return to the comfort of a regular routine.
You’ve probably been cooped up at home for months, trying to cope with all the changes the “new normal” imposed. But fall can be a time to return to creature comforts that make your home feel like the refuge it should be for you and your family. Here are some ideas for turning over a new (colorful) leaf and creating a fresh routine.
Step one: Do a clean and purge. A change of seasons is an opportunity to change out clothing and equipment that won’t be needed for months. Take the time to discard, donate, or repair clothes and other summer gear past its prime, rather than store things you’ll only have to deal with next spring. This is a great time to get everyone involved in simplifying and decluttering; you can position it as a way to clear the decks so less cleaning and organizing will be needed to keep it all in order for the next few months.
Step two: make your place cozy and livable for everyone. Arrange furniture around what you’ll be doing as the weather gets colder. Make sure each child has a well-organized and functional homework or creative space – and do the same for WFH adults as well. Position a couple of comfortable chairs with a reading light and a cozy blanket for long afternoons spent with a good book.
Create a coffee or tea station with all the fixings in attractive containers and a set of ready to go mugs so anyone can quickly make a comforting hot drink. Organize the pantry with grab and go healthy snacks in bins so everyone in the family can self-serve without interrupting your workflow.
Step three: Turn meal prep into a team activity. It looks like fall sports are back on television to stay, which gives you 3-hour blocks of viewing time that can also serve as meal prep time. Getting the whole family involved in cutting and prepping ingredients gives them a sense of ownership of the meals they’ll be eating. Taking a weekend afternoon (or part of a weekday evening) to cook in large batches and package into family dinner or lunch-sized portions makes weeknight meal planning much easier when things get hectic.
The whole family can help look up appealing recipes and make shopping lists from the ingredients; this doesn’t have to be the sole responsibility of the one who has always done it in the past. If you label and hang on to the shopping lists from family favorites (or store them in an app like Paprika), you won’t have to repeat the task over and over throughout the season.
Get everyone involved in putting important dates and activities in a central calendar, whether it’s cloud-based or analog. Everyone should take responsibility for listing practices, after school activities, and important dates to remember. It’s their own responsibility to make sure their dates are on the calendar, so a missed meeting or activity is also their responsibility, not just Mom’s (or Dad’s.)
Be sure to reward everyone who has pitched in to make fall more organized, less stressful, and more comfortable for everyone. Extra effort by family members can be rewarded with a chance to pick the movie or the game on family night. A points system might let them cash in points for special treats – or a night from chores.
The point is that now, six months or more into our stay at home routine, it’s no longer an emergency, no longer something we’re managing by the seat of our pants. This is a chance to make your home routine purposeful, equitable, and less stressful for everyone. Especially you.