Happy Labor Day, guys! I’ll admit it - I'm pretty excited for autumn. It's my family's favorite season by far. But, it's all too easy to fall into the stressful “do all the fall activities” craziness, especially with the other chaos that occurs - for us, that means sending our older son to preschool, getting back to a routine with Mama heading back to school (which is a whole new ballgame this year since I'm starting at a new school - ahh!), and a hundred other smaller tasks. So, what's a fall lovin’ family to do? Simplify. I'm not saying busy families need to suck it up and not have any fun because things are so crazy. I AM saying that it's okay to drop the things that aren't even close to fun or aren't even kinda fun. How will I do this? Talk to the boys (our daughter is less than a year, so she just goes along for the ride) and find out what they're looking forward to this fall. Including the whole family helps ensure that absolutely everyone will enjoy it (hopefully) and we won’t waste our time doing something that only one of us thought might be cool. Another tip is to overlap whenever possible. My mom was great at this raising 4 kids on her own. Every Columbus Day, we’d hit our favorite cider mill, country store, and costume shop (we usually got ideas there to make our own Halloween costumes or maybe buy a small prop). I’m pretty sure we usually came home with our pumpkins, too. Talk about a fun fall day!
After a chat or two, here’s my family’s list for 2016: Apple/pumpkin picking - With the types of orchards we encounter in our area, it's fully possible to hit up both of these at the same time. The number of apples we pick totally depends on how beat the new schedule has us. And we’ll probably get two pumpkins for carving (one we’ll do for/with Harper and one that Hadley can design on his own), plus a couple smaller ones to put out for some easy peasy decor. A Fall Trip - Depending on cost and exhaustion levels, this could be an overnight trip or a day trip to check out leaves. Normally I'd cut this out (or keep it to under an hour away), but my husband is super excited and it's hard not to get on board with that level of excitement! One Fall Craft - Oh, Pinterest. So full of inspiration. So full of too-high expectations. While I love doing fun activities with my son, there's just not enough time or fairy magic to make it a regular thing. Plus, I foresee an onslaught of pre-K projects coming. So, one SIMPLE, fall (not holiday-themed) craft to display during the whole season will do just fine. Go to a Fall Farmers’ Market - This could also get tied in with our aforementioned fall trip, but there’s also a local market we like to hit up, as well. We used to go several times a season but have slowed down with the kids in tow. I’m hoping, for my own sake, to do some make-ahead meals and would love to use locally grown butternut squash for some soup and get some of those other fall flavors into our ingredient list. Sometimes a simple Sunday afternoon with a bowl of soup, family movie, blankets, and our little ones is all we need. Make Homemade Pumpkin Spice “Creamer” - This is for Mama. Enough said, I think. Halloween Stuff: Pumpkin Carving - As I mentioned, we’re keeping it basic and minimal this year. I love my husband for a lot of reasons, but the fact that he doesn’t mind scraping the guts out of the pumpkin makes the Top 5 list. I kid you not. Costume Making - For some strange reason, I’m super against store-bought costumes. Or, rather, those cheapy, thin fabric things with weird masks. I DO hit thrift and discount stores (oh, and our dress-up box, which is ever-evolving) to find what will help our son become the awesomest “Charlie Brown/Apple/Spooooky Ghost” (those were the past 3 years; his ghost was amazing) he can be. This year, it’s either Kid Flash or, as per my husband’s request, the entire Tiger family. It is pretty appropriate since our little girl came along - Daniel Tiger, Mom, Dad, and Margaret. We’ll see, though! Could I possibly make life way easier by just buying one at the store? Of course. But, it’s kind of become our thing and Hadley is always SO appreciative...plus, I actually enjoy doing it. Watch a Halloween movie - This will probably involve Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or some such thing, but in the midst of chaos, a night to just relax (and let our son pick what we’re watching) almost forces us to remember the important things. Family. Enjoying both the work and fun of life. And Mickey Mouse. (Just kidding on that last part.) We’re going to try to get back to our old traditions (possibly) this Thanksgiving, so I’m not planning that far ahead yet - either doing the back-and-forth, eating the meal at one family’s house and the dessert at another, or hosting the whole shebang ourselves, ack! Plus, with Harper’s 1st birthday, I’d say that our best bet is to exclude November from the “fall fun” list. It’s kind of built-in at our house, ha! So, what are you MOST looking forward to this autumn? What things can your family totally cut off the list? Are you into the pumpkins and apples but not so much the leaf peeping? We’d love to hear!