It’s been 15 years since I’ve had a first day of school to look forward to. In those 15 years I really only ever noticed the first day of school had arrived because traffic on the freeway was suddenly terrible again.
Nevertheless, with my son not yet three, I’m feeling the frenzy again of new beginnings and a fresh start to the year. He’s a little more independent and spending more time at his Montessori Primary program. That means I have more “me time,” and I’m putting it to good use.
Believe me, I’m all for self-care in terms of mani-pedis and indulgent facials. But the following five things are a different kind of bolster for my soul. They require energy and attention away from my family.
That part is tough. I want my son to know, however, that while I would do anything for him, I also do things that challenge myself both for the pursuit of learning and the pure joy of it.
Family Leadership Tip:
My Personal Back-to-School List
01 – Reading Books Again
I’m fairly certain I haven’t read a novel of any sort since I was pregnant. Now with regular mental clarity and full nights of sleep, I’m enjoying diving into nonfiction again. The two books I’m starting with are The Whole-Brain Child by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, and The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies. Both books are sort of for work and sort of for personal development.
I’ll be following up with the Raising Families perspective on these two very popular works soon. Learning about the brain is fascinating to me. For now, it just feels rejuvenating to have a book in my hands that doesn’t rhyme.
02 – Filling My House with Plants
We recently returned from a family vacation in which we visited the temperate rain forests of Vancouver Island. I missed the greenery the instant we left it and have been on a mission ever since to make our home feel as alive and fresh as our time on vacation felt.
I was fooled into believing that I was an excellent plant caretaker by the cutting of a pothos plant that my mother gave me when I left for college. That nearly indestructible houseplant grew so well and so fast I have filled three pots now with its own cuttings. Don’t water it for a couple weeks? No big deal. Never repot it? No worries. Maybe fertilize it once a year? All good!
I would have sworn to you I was an amazing plant person, until I saw an angel hair fern at the garden store one day and have been lovingly (and accidentally) killing it ever since. The ferns are delicate and finicky, and I love them, but they drive me crazy.
I have purchased yet another one, along with some money trees and rubber plants to add texture, color, and more fresh air to our home. And since we’re not ready to commit to a pet, this is a great opportunity to teach my son about caring for living things besides himself.
New House Plants
We added a shelf to the bedroom wall opposite the bed and found a variety of houseplants from the farmer’s market. I’m loving the texture and color added to the room.
03 – Using a Meal Planner
This was a difficult thing for me to do, honestly. I adore cooking. I’m good at it. My family adores eating. We’re a little too good at it.
Most of the time I really enjoy planning meals and shopping for food. However, I have a serious amount of stuff to get through in the next couple of months, and planning meals takes me a wicked amount of time. I personally enjoy using eMeals because I still do all the shopping so there’s no pile of little plastic bags and individual serving pouches common in most meal delivery programs.
A few weeks into using the vegetarian planner, my stress level is way down, we’ve discovered great new recipes, and I still get to cook and spend time with my husband and child. Total win.
04 – Take a Sewing Class
My mother didn’t own a sewing machine when I was growing up. We didn’t have home economics when I was in school. One quarter of my seventh-grade year, there was an elective after school to learn how to use a sewing machine, which I took and made an adorable quillow.
I haven’t used a sewing machine since, despite the innumerable craft projects I’ve wanted to pursue. To me it seems like a basic maintenance skill someone in the family should possess.
Taking a non-mommy-and-me class has felt too indulgent since I became a mom. Of course, it’s not indulgent at all. It’s necessary and valuable. Before baby I took all kinds of courses for fun. I miss it, and I can’t wait to make another quillow next month when classes start back up at my local shop. Then new curtains and Halloween costumes, here I come!
05 – Take a Test
I create, measure, and aid in achieving all kinds of goals for my family. But pursuing a goal for me alone has given me tremendous pride and energy that I hadn’t expected! I have one last pesky design professional licensing exam to take before the year is out and, with you all as my witnesses, it will happen! Now, I better get back to those books.
Whether or not you have children at home, take some time amongst all the back-to-school rush to embrace the spirit of new challenges and new beginnings at this time of year. Choose a few areas of your life to commit new energy to. Kudos if they are things that are genuinely difficult for you.
Whether studying the brain, taming a plant, relaxing a part of your schedule, attempting a new skill, or boosting your professional development, the time is right to get started. Model for your children that adults also learn, unlearn, and relearn information, skills, and habits throughout their lives. School is just the beginning.
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Somer is the Chief Content Officer at Raising Families living in Southern California with her husband and four-year-old son. She spent 10 years in the architecture field as a designer and medical planner and now applies her love of integrative thinking and big-picture planning to her family and career. Read full bio >>