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Tips for Enjoying Fall Simply

image of child playing in leaves
Last year, I posted an article with a round-up of fun fall activities to do with your family. The year before, I posted a “frugal fall fun” list of ideas. Many of these ideas turned out great for my family and can still apply, but this year I’m keeping it even simpler - while still making the most of our family’s “favorite season.” Fast forward a year and things are even more hectic than usual - and I know many of you can relate no matter what season of life your family is experiencing. In our case, we have our third baby on the way (due at the end of October), we’re celebrating a year in our new house come November (and still sometimes feel like we haven’t totally unpacked!), and are undergoing some family transitions with our oldest heading to kindergarten and my starting at a new school in our district (with high schoolers - I’ve got the jitters, folks). It feels like a lot. Maybe you can relate and are in the exact same boat with youngsters and “firsts” left and right. Or, maybe you’ve already been through it all and are instead dealing with the craziness of older kid schedules and practice drop-offs and pick-ups. Or, still yet, maybe you’re expecting your first child and are feeling a certain level of overwhelm just wrapping your head around everything - along with dealing with the exhaustion that can accompany pregnancy. It never ends. But, we wouldn’t really want it to, would we? Well, no matter your family’s stage, I fully believe it’s possible to still enjoy simple things - like a new season! - without overfilling your plate (ie schedule).  
image of child playing in leaves
Be intentional about the season. - “Being intentional” sounds like such a hipster concept these days, but there’s a lot of value in it. It really is about opening your eyes to the moments and experiences around you as they happen; it’s also a really great way to get a kickstart on Thanksgiving (the being grateful thing; not the planning your menu and stuffing your face thing). So, how do we do this? My favorite way to break it down is to suggest using your senses. Take a moment on those cool, crisp mornings to pause and feel the chill on your skin (but still appreciate the sun that accompanies it). Close your eyes and smell the fallen leaves or apple cinnamon candle you only break out when summer ends. Savor the flavors of fall comfort foods and fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-pumpkin-spice-food-or-beverage-here. You get the idea. And, of course, bring your kids in on the fun! When you notice something with your senses, mention it to them and have them take part, too (maybe not a latte, but you get the idea). Kids are often even better at recognizing these simple pleasures than we grown-ups. Make the most over the changes. As we’ve been addressing with our son, sometimes transition can be sad, but there are often happy consequences to the change, too. I have a good mix of friends who very publicly share either their disdain over the end of summer fun or their elation over welcoming autumn. I always find that it’s better to ride the waves rather than try to stroke upstream (when it’s clear you’re going to lose that race). So, I find what I enjoy about the season rather than what I hate. The first time I’m able to switch over to my trusty old brown boots and a favorite scarf is joy (and, yay, I can do that pregnant!). The first taste of a pumpkin spice coffee? The same thing. We’ll soon be deep into it and summer will be a distant, lovely memory. Life moves so quickly, it’s much more rewarding to enjoy where we are while we’re there rather than rush things even more.         There’s no shame in multi-tasking, especially when there’s fun in store. So, you’re hoping to do a bit of decorating with pumpkins and other fall paraphernalia but also have a craving for some cider, but don’t have a lot of time on your hands? Instead of heading to your usual craft store, home improvement store, and grocery store, grab the kiddos and hit up a pumpkin patch or local garden center (we have one that’s also an orchard that happens to stock TONS of pumpkins, corn stalks, hay bales, etc - PLUS they have a free corn maze and a shop with cider, pastries, and other fall treats...jackpot). One stop shopping! How often do you go on a shopping trip with a side of family fun and memories for good measure?     Find one or two simple family outings and ENJOY! You may not have time to do all the things you’d like to do. I know I don’t. So, if we happen not to be able to hit all of our favorite spots (let’s just say our annual trip to Vermont is out when you’re 8 ½ months pregnant), we’ll pick what will pack the most punch and simply enjoy the time together. Some basic ideas? Hit up the farmers’ market and make a meal together using local, autumnal flavors. Make the most out of your Halloween pumpkin-picking trip and make a side trip to a costume store or thrift shop to pick out their costumes. Hit up a “you pick” apple orchard or cider mill (since they usually have additional activities and shopping opportunities for patrons). Whatever it is, savor the experience. For me, this often means leaving the phone home (or taking it out ONLY to take a picture), chatting with the kids during the trip, allowing the eating of super messy cider donuts in the car (ya only live once, right?), and maybe throwing in a movie night with popcorn and cider or cocoa just to add to the memories of the day.    As with all things, don’t strive for perfection! Raise your hand if you struggle with this, too!! It’s funny. I often hear my family jokingly call me Martha Stewart (more my mom and sister, but occasionally in a nice way my husband reminds me that I’m doing too much or not to stress myself out), so, yeah. Reminder to all of us: creating fun memories CAN be done simply and DOESN’T need to be Pinterest perfect. So, go ahead and BUY a pumpkin spice latte instead of blending up your own nutrient-dense, fortified-with-coconut-oil, dairy-free version (unless you really, really want to or have dietary reasons). Grab your favorite Do the simplest decorating that brings YOUR heart joy (I’m looking at you, small but cute faux pumpkins and yummy-smelling candles from the Target dollar area). And, yes. It IS okay to purchase your child’s Halloween costume (says the woman who made her children’s every year after they turned one); and semi-homemade is totally a thing, so putting together pieces from their wardrobe plus a handful of stuff from the dress-up bin totally works. Hopefully these tips help you find ways to enjoy the autumn without adding too much to your schedule (or stress level). We’d love to hear your favorite ways to celebrate fall. It’s always great to bounce ideas off of each other and try new things, so share away in the comments!
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