Ed Note: Join us in welcoming guest writer and HudCo member Jessie Kanzer to the HudCo Journal! Jessie will be reporting on all things that bolster your physical and mental well-being.
You know what’s faster than the speed of light? The speed of summer. You turn around and, boom: it’s August. You blink once more and back-to-school is upon us. Life moves quickly these days, and it’s even quicker when it’s vacation/relaxation/fun time. So now that the end of this second pandemic summer is approaching—the one where many of us finally got the chance to travel and congregate and party again (even if briefly)—how do we snap out of it and get the whole family back into work mode?
Alter your state of being
The Tao Te Ching, which I’ve studied for decades, tells us that a great leader (i.e., mom!) leads by example. And I believe it’s vital to channel our own back-to-school-and-work persona before we start pushing it on the kids. Again, though, the question beckons: how?!
There’s a helpful spiritual philosophy that I’ve come across time and time again (especially through the work of Laura Day and Neale Donald Walsh, who teach us to tap into our intuition and the God power within, respectively). The idea is that we get to choose our state of being. We get to decide who/how we’re going to be and when. It’s a natural human ability we often forget about as we run around being busy—that we can stop and alter our speed, our focus, our very state. That way instead of having to force yourself to do what you don’t want to while you’re in a summer headspace, you shift your very being into a working state and you go from there. Once you’re in that state, then you approach the kids about their responsibilities.
It’s a natural human ability we often forget about as we run around being busy—that we can stop and alter our speed, our focus, our very state.
Mental Health Counselor Beata Vilar de Queiros suggests we start small as we work. “It’s incremental changes over time that allow us to hike the mental mountain of what can feel like an overwhelming to-do list or anticipatory anxiety,” she says. For instance, she suggests setting our alarm clocks to school-day time a bit before the first day of school. I also make the prep incremental by sprinkling various to-do items throughout the month of August. This week, for instance, I’m tackling back-to-school supplies. Next week will be planning the after-school activities.
Still, no matter how organized we get, Conscious change coach Elizabeth Knell reminds us that we’re allowed to feel a bit bummed about summer’s end—even as we get ready to be ready. “It’s important to acknowledge that it’s okay to feel some emotions about it,” she says. “Try not to force yourself to ignore the feelings or judge yourself harshly with thoughts like ‘I should be able to handle this. It shouldn’t be this hard.’” In other words, you can, both, feel the bummery, and move into a state of getting sh*t done.
Before you get serious, go nuts!
It’s human to experience contradictory emotions simultaneously—I know I do—which is probably why I am drawn to the paradoxes presented in the Tao Te Ching. “If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial,” it tells us, “If you want to become straight, let yourself be crooked.”
If you want to bring order back into your household, let order go out the window!
My thought is, allow yourself and your family to go nuts before you settle back into your routines—some sort of goodbye-to-summer extravaganza. Maybe one last late-night of movie watching and candy eating, or a final trip to the beach with extra helpings of ice cream, or a summer bash full of debauchery. You get the idea—when you give yourself and your kids a celebratory full-throttle burst of freedom, it’ll be easier to get back to business.
As we move into fall, occupational therapist Adrienne Breen suggests we take it easy: “With the structure and new responsibilities of school being reintroduced in September, I recommend to families keeping your after school and weekend obligations to a minimum, at least for the month of September, to give your family time to process the new schedule.” No need to do it all, especially that early in the year. “Keep obligations to a minimum and actually do what you feel like doing or what your nervous system needs to do at that time to regulate,” she says.
Keep obligations to a minimum and actually do what you feel like doing or what your nervous system needs to do at that time to regulate.
Ms. Breen recommends hikes, quiet relaxation time, running outside barefoot—anything that connects us and our littles with the earth and with our center. As a CranioSacral therapist, she believes strongly in helping regulate folks’ nervous systems, which are thrown out of whack by all sorts of stressors, not the least of which is change.
So let us remind ourselves that life is change and change is good; let us work towards finding a comfort level with change itself… And let’s remind our families of all the fun that autumn has in store: seeing school friends, Halloween, fall crispness and boots and foliage. So much enjoyment! Not to mention—if you really think about it—next summer is right around the corner.