As summer winds down, so does some of the fun and freedom we enjoy during this time of year. For kids, it’s time to head back to school and activities; for parents, it means supervising homework, making lunches and keeping everyone on a schedule. This transition can cause the blues for children and adults alike.
One of the best ways to handle the change is to develop a solid strategy to make things easier and less stressful. Here are seven suggestions to beat the end-of-summer blues:
1. Plan ahead
Remember past challenges and think about how to improve in the future. If you have kids, teach them problem-solving by involving them in the planning. Find ways to modify your family’s daily routine, including transitioning to an earlier wake-up time once school starts. Instead of shocking them awake on the first day of school, start implementing earlier bedtimes and earlier wake-up times about a week before school starts, backing up five to ten minutes each night until you reached the correct time.
2. Focus on the positives
As the weather grows colder, instead of staring out the window pining for the sun, get cozy in oversized sweaters and cuddle up with your family. Fall and winter provide opportunities to engage in indoor bonding activities such as puzzles, baking and the like. Light a fire, roast marshmallows and teach your kids to make hot chocolate from scratch. Before you know it, holiday festivities will be here, bringing all kinds of cheer. Have fun in the fall by planning your Halloween costumes, begin holiday crafting or even start working on your holiday wish lists.
3. Get the family involved
Get together with your whole family to brainstorm fun activities you can do in the coming months. Create a giant calendar and mark off school and work holidays. Then choose dates for fun activities during the fall and winter. Make those activities stand out on your calendar by using bright colors and stickers.
4. Create an end-of-summer tradition
Plan a big barbecue with friends and family; spend an end-of-summer weekend away or plan a staycation; plant new flowers in your garden; or clean out closets and donate what you no longer use to those in need. Whatever you decide to do, as long as you enjoy it, commit to doing this same thing every year.
5. Make a scrapbook or collage
Do an art project with your family that includes photos, ticket stubs and other memories to help document the summer. Put it in a visible place in your home to remind yourself of the fun that you just experienced. (This exercise could also be your end-of-summer ritual!)
6. Work on goal-setting
Think intentionally about what each member of your family would like to accomplish or improve on in the coming months. Many people believe that this type of planning is only for January, but setting goals only once a year can increase the pressure on you to complete those goals, and wind up resulting in disappointment. Making seasonal goals is more effective and a great positive activity.
7. Make a fall and winter music playlist
Pick out songs to represent the fall and winter holidays or music that evokes feelings of joy for this time of year. You can find spooky songs for Halloween in October, festive tunes to play during Thanksgiving in November, and there is no shortage of holiday favorites to choose from in December.
Instead of closing out the summer with the blues, end the season with some proactive and happiness-filled fall and winter to-dos!
Stacy Kaiser is a licensed psychotherapist, author, relationship expert and media personality. She is also the author of the best-selling book How to Be a Grown Up: The Ten Secret Skills Everyone Needs to Know and an editor at large for Live Happy. Stacy is a frequent guest on television programs such as Today and Good Morning America.