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Self-care time, y’all. It’s officially been fall for a little over a week. How are you doing? If you’re like me there was the brief Pumpkin-Spice euphoria that summer is over, and then it hit you that fall is just as nuts. Yup. Between school, and work projects, and the trees that won’t stop dropping leaves that need to be raked up. Well, fall might not be the break we were hoping for. Take a deep breath, we’re all in this together. You’ve got this, but you might need a little fuel to make it all happen. (No, I don’t mean pumpkin-spice coffee.)
We talked last week about ordering our lives in rhythm with the seasons. Part of that ordering is how we care for ourselves. I learned years ago that I’m no good to anyone if I’m burned out, exhausted, and hanging by a thread a la the kitten on the poster. Self-care is always a good idea, enabling you to give your loved ones your best instead of what you have left over. And I find fall naturally calls for certain sorts of self care.
Right now you’ve got a lot of things going on. Confession time: I don’t finish projects. Well I do, but I tend to bounce around like a demented squirrel. Earlier this fall I counted and ended up with the following inventory.
- Three knitting projects unfinished.
- Two knitting projects that were just sad balls of yarn and good intentions.
- Two finished quilt tops needing backs.
- And five quilt projects un-started.
Oops. Ok, further confession. The knitting projects were three years old and I don’t like to knit. But everyone was knitting! So I harvested. I put all the knitting supplies, and half finished projects in a bag and took them to a friend who loves to knit. I told her to do whatever she wanted with them. She was thrilled, I never have to knit again, there’s less crap in my house and less guilt in my brain.
Harvest: Making Space
Sometimes we have to harvest stuff before it’s ripe. The frost is coming, the season is over, and it’s just time for it to go.
Because that makes space and time for the things that do need our attention. Like those quilt tops I finally got packaged up and sent out to be quilted (yup, I realized I’m never going to quilt my own quilts, I only enjoy making the top.) And now, I get to start making my Christmas quilt! I went from overwhelmed and grumpy to excited about a project again. Score.
- Take stock of what is on your plate. This could be anything. From craft projects, to that remodel you keep putting off, to a family activity you’ve been doing every week for months. Whatever it is, it isn’t done.
- Make a choice:
- Harvest it now and let it go (pass on to someone else, just drop it entirely, give it away, or put it away for another season).
- Or make it a priority. If you chose this second step put it on your calendar so it’s not invisible. Schedule time for it and be realistic. This will help keep you from over committing. And, if you are like me, it’ll help you see there’s no way you’ll make five quilts in three months and that’s ok.
I know, I know. You’re like, “Jo, it’s fall. Our daughter is in football, our son has ballet and jazz trumpet lessons! And a small army is descending on my house for Thanksgiving!” I get it, I do. Fall is often crazy. But it’s also naturally a time to begin the process of entering into the rest and slowness of winter.
So give yourself a break and slow down a little. You might feel tempted to kick on the afterburners to get stuff done before the Holidays roll over us all like a herd of elephants. But don’t, doing that will leave you exhausted before the real craziness has even begun. So give yourself permission to do less. Cancel a family activity, sign the kids up for one less activity. Hire the neighbor kid to rake your leaves and sit inside reading a book and not feeling bad at all.
Fall is made for savoring. The rich foods, with all their flavor and fresh ingredients. Cool weather that invites long walks through the leaves. Let yourself be a little bit of a kid again. Walk the dog through the park and kick as many leaves as you can, listening to that delightful crunching sound. Grab some easy pumpkin bread baking mixes and slather that stuff with real butter hot out of the oven.
Spend a little longer in the morning sipping your coffee and watching the light through the kitchen window. It means a few things won’t get done, but that’s OK. There’s a rarely spoken truth in life that we will never get everything done. It’s impossible. So give yourself permission to let some things go for now while you savor the sweet, rich moments you’ve been given.
Ask For Help
This one is a biggie. But if you do one thing this fall to care for yourself, do this. In fact, I’m going to make this an official Crazy Whole Life Challenge. It’s pretty simple, ask for help. Which, if you are a woman, you are probably rubbish at. I am absolutely crap at asking for help, and I’m not much better at accepting it. How many times have you said “it’s just easier to do it myself?” Right? You know I’m right.
If we do it ourselves it gets done the right way (our way), it gets done when it needs to be done, no one else has to get involved, and we sure as hell don’t have to admit that we might not be Wonder Woman. OK friends, Wonder Woman had helpers. Superman now and then showed up and leant a hand. Not that she needed help mind you, but it’s nice to spread things around.
OK, really, we need help. We all do. And it’s really important that you ask. Make it your spiritual discipline this fall to figure out where you can ask for help. It will make the slowing down part of this challenge easier. It will make the savor part easier. Frankly, it’ll make life easier, once you get the hang of it. Here are some ideas:
- Ask the kids to clear the dinner table while you go relax.
- Request that your spouse to cook dinner on your longest work/kid taxi day.
- Ask your in-laws and family to bring the side dishes to Thanksgiving.
- Call up a responsible older cousin and ask him to babysit on Thanksgiving. Then you can cook and hang out with the adults uninterrupted (pay him, it’s worth it!)
- Ask your friends to do a cookie swap so you don’t have to bake 12 kinds of cookies before Christmas
Check In With Yourself
Finally, check in with yourself. Be honest about how you are doing. As the light starts to go away, the nights get longer, and it gets colder we can fall into a funk. Fall can be stressful for a multitude of reasons. So be gentle with yourself, and take the time to care for yourself in whatever way you need. Maybe it’s yoga classes in a nice hot room to get the chill out. Or maybe it’s finally going to see a therapist about that seasonal depression you’ve been fighting.
Whatever it is your soul and body need to be well this fall, make time and space to care for yourself. You are worth it.
OK y’all. Accountability time! What is one thing you will ask for help with this fall to care for yourself? Or if you’re already great at asking for help, what is it you need to care for yourself? Share it here and let’s help one another.