Amid the hustle and bustle of starting up school each fall, our sense of rhythm and predictability often flounders for a bit. As we settle into new routines, our kids go a little haywire, and sometimes their mama does too! This year I’ve decided to really make sure that I enjoy fall. A friend of mine made the comment recently that she was working to spend as much time outdoors as possible. After all, the long New England winter is only just around the corner, and soon we won’t feel the warmth of the sun on our faces and hands. In looking back over the past few fall seasons, MrH and I realized that with just a little tweaking, we had some traditions in the making (for a full discussion on rhythm and predictability see Simplicity Parenting and on why traditions matter, see The Intentional Family).
Annual Outings and Activities
For the past few years, we’ve met my SIL and her family at a local pumpkin patch. We all wear our favorite fall outfits, including lots of orange, and take family photos for each other. The kids feed the petting zoo animals and play on the large wooden play structures. Everyone enjoys a cider donut. Later, our family carves the pumpkin for display on the front porch. And the family photo? We use it on our Christmas card!
Our family also has made an annual apple-picking trip, complete with petting zoo animals and cider donuts as well. For both of these trips, we’ve decided to frequent the same farm (one for pumpkins, one for apples) each year, at least while the kids are little.
This year, my 4 year old asked about planting bulbs. Mostly he just enjoyed carrying the sack of them around BJ’s. But yes, bulbs will be planted, the garden cleaned up, a bit of pruning done, and soil turned over. The kids might help, but I’m not averse to them playing alongside me while I work. To make this more of an annual tradition, I’ll be intentional this year about doing it while the kids are around, rather than reserving it as a “chore” for me to do while they’re at school. I want them to be a part of this earthly rhythm.
In the Kitchen
We roast pumpkin seeds, make apple crisp and pumpkin bread. We eat lots of squash (and toast the seeds) and return to eating soups and casseroles. Fall is a time that my kitchen is in constant use. By saving the same recipes from year to year I hope that one day, the kids will use some of them in their own homes, and of course be hit by waves of nostalgia. At which point they will probably call their dear old mother and thank her profusely for all she did. I mean… uhm… yeah, I love fall foods and hope my children find the warmth and scent of it comforting.
“Let’s head outside, it’s gorgeous!” “Hear the leaves rustling?” “Feel that breeze…” “I can feel the sun on my face, but my hands are frigid.” “Let’s wear rain boots and coats and go stomp in some puddles.” “Look at the colors on that leaf/tree/forest!” “Do you notice that you can smell the leaves?” These are all things I say throughout the fall. This season, more than any other, provides an abundance of sensory experiences. We go outside at every opportunity and revel in the changing seasons. It’s not always easy for a homebody like me, but whenever we do, we all have smiles on our faces the instant we hit the pavement.
It’s dark before bath time and we eat dinner by candlelight. Our wardrobe changes as I stealthily remove the shorts and pull out the fleece. Blankets get hung out a final time before winter sets in and we cozy up under them for bedtime stories. Forts are built, and used for reading with flashlights.
I love these aspects of the fall. And while I could do without the hectic schedules of school and activities, I’ll enjoy the season as long as we make time to truly experience this season, in all its glorious sensory lavishness.