There is a definite autumnal feel to our days lately. Summer not only peaked at solstice but pretty much only happened during that small window. It's been cool and breezy and probably just right to nudge us towards the coming school year. We won't be starting for a couple of weeks due to upcoming travel and overseas book shipments. What happens now is likely even more important than the 'start' date though.
It is rather taken for granted that the focus in the weeks and months that lead up to 'back to school' is on adding - books, supplies, uniforms (school or sports or both), programs, activities. If those things are to be peacefully woven into our homes and our days we have to practice the art of subtraction. A familiar design principle, it is just as relevant to crafting focused, peaceful days as to creating art.
So, right now we are making room in our personal spaces. One by one we have been purging bedrooms and closets. Outgrown clothes removed, needed sizes noted. Windows and baseboards had been neglected and there probably won't be time for them once fall schedules begin so those are getting some attention now. The bookshelves are being sorted, last year's books taken down. School supplies purged and restocked. The vehicles have been emptied and vacuumed in anticipation of lots of commuting.
We have been talking about ways to make room inside ourselves too. The learning we have such high hopes for often ends up competing with ipod playlists, instagram images, facebook feeds, and 24hr news. Never before have people lived without pause and we are not thriving with the incessant inflow. At some point you can no longer effectively process new input and that affects both essentials and non-essentials rather indiscriminately.
More than that, it has struck me so often as the years go by that there is very little opportunity for boredom and I think that's a shame. Tragic actually. Our older children read or explored simply because there wasn't something else to do. Without constant entertainment you make your own. You doodle, you build things, you take walks, you strike up card games. So we are corraling the screens to a small portion of the days, my own days as well. I spend a fair amount of screen time with my digital darkroom (photoshop etc) Lots of time is needed to turn out produce rich, nutrient dense meals for a houseful. I am trying to speak - with real live audible words - to my adult children and distant friends on a regular basis. Spoken conversation takes time. That time needs to be consciously carved out and necessarily leaves less for other things.
Moms often find themselves, midyear, chasing after solutions to what are actually secondary problems. Kids are naughty, laundry piles, exhaustion hits. Often several different little fires we are trying to put out are sparked by the same flame. So before we start filling up the calendar and the house, we are emptying.
Some related thoughts: