My parents listened to Christmas albums throughout the whole season, and their collection of vinyl was pretty impressive, so we enjoyed holiday music beyond the traditional Bing Crosby. One of our favorites was the Merle Haggard Christmas album, which when I listen to now, had some pretty depressing songs on it. "If We Make It Through December" though sad, was one of our faves, and still, Larry and I often belt out the refrain to take the edge off the holiday chaos and expense. As a kid I didn't get it. I get it now.
"If we make it through December, everything's gonna be alright I know ... "
Truly, when we roll into January without having had any visits from child protective services, divorce lawyers or collection agencies, we feel like we deserve a pat on the back and a good martini. Once a year was bad enough, but now, there are three times of the year I feel like this kind of frenzied stress followed by relief when they are over. December, June and the most recent grind, September.
If Dante had known about the beginning of the modern school year, he would've found a place for it in his descent into hell. So, for all of you who have kids who are involved in at least one activity, I have two things to say. Happy October, and shaken not stirred. New schedules, new teachers, new anxieties, new expenses can all get old very quickly.
Now is the time to take a deep breath, let the laundry go for a couple days (except the uniforms because then you will be doing the dreaded Saturday 8am uniform scramble) and reassess the situation. The kids should be somewhat settled.
Put the following five things on your to do list:
Do something you enjoy by yourself or with your partner. Put some adult social stuff on your calendar today. Otherwise, you will get trapped by the driving, and the exhaustion and the monotony.
Get organized. I can let myself get completely overwhelmed when I look at the mess my whole house is in right now, but when I just pick a drawer and do it, the feeling is so good, it makes me want to continue. Start small and big changes can happen.
Figure out your carpools, or at least know who you can call when you have conflicts. Not only can't you do it all, you shouldn't try.
Call a friend you have lost touch with because your kids don't do the same sport or activity.
Prioritize. What are the three things you want to accomplish in the next six weeks? How will you accomplish them? What will get in your way? Be realistic, six weeks is about all we have before we need to start gearing up for December. I hope at least one of them is playful or relaxing or mindful. We will need all the mental energy we can store up to leap over the next hurdle. Commit to enjoying the time in between. There will always be a December or a June or a September in our future.
"October is about trees revealing colors they've hidden all year. People have an October as well."
-- Jm Storm