Branching Out – Back to School and Fall Goals


Fall is an interesting time of year.  It is a time when everything in nature dries up and contracts its life-force in, preparing for the cold winter ahead.  Fall is also a time when routines change from the laid back days of summer to the structured days of school, homework and extra-curricular activities.   Going back to school is a really big adjustment, especially for the younger school children.

The changing of the seasons always motivates me to make some big changes in my life.  Sure, I get over zealous, but I usually accomplish a portion of what I set out and that works for me.  I have found that goals are the best way for me to stay focused and clear on what I want to achieve.

#1 Getting Organized.  

This year, my focus has been set on getting organized in preparation for the year ahead.  Although it does not happen frequently, I have been the mom who forgot the homework assignment or the permission slip until last second.  I would much rather be the mom who signs the slip and returns it the next day!  I also tend to get stressed out and impatient when my life is in a big jumble, so being organized and prepared will allow me to be a much better mommy.

I want to recreate this awesome organization wall over our computer desk, which will keep everything in once place, from meal planning to loose-paper filing.  I am a little challenged when it comes to hanging things in an orderly fashion, so once my husband finishes it, maybe I will share a picture.  🙂

This is also a great post on back to school organization from iHeart Organizing.  The pictures offer great ideas on getting the kid’s stuff organized and put away so it doesn’t sit on the kitchen table for 8 months.  Because I wouldn’t know anything about that…

#2 Believe.  

Kindergarten was a difficult year for my son.  I’ve talked about it here and here.  We were constantly communicating with his teacher about his bad behavior of the day.  She even had a behavior chart which he had to color in a smile face or a sad face depending on how he acted during that portion of the day.  My son was stressed out all day long with how much was being demanded from him versus how much he was accustomed to giving.

At home, I didn’t make it much easier for him.  Too often my focus was on the negative, telling him “Don’t do this” or “You can’t do that.”  I was only increasing the weight upon his tiny shoulders.  I have decided that instead of having our primary focus on whether he was good or bad that day, instead or focus from now on will be believing in ourselves.  Believing that we are good, believing that we can always be better because we are always growing and every day is a new day.  I want him to believe in himself that when he makes a mistake, he can pick himself up and start anew.  I think this is something we were missing last year, and I am hoping it will help us have a much more positive experience this year.  After all, where your focus goes, energy flows.  Think positive and see positive results.  🙂

#3 Get involved.

Even though fall is a time for nature to contract, I feel the need to do the opposite and really expand in our community this year.  I want to raise my kids to be comfortable in their skin and I think getting out there and being social is a really important part of this.  I am planning to volunteer for school functions through the PTA and bring my family along for the fun.  I want to make the school and related individuals a fun part of our family life, rather than just work, discipline and negativity.  Last year we were only minorly involved which may have been less than ideal for his adjusting to kindergarten.   I’m going out on a limb here, but I think if I can try to endear the school in my son’s heart via the fun activities offered, he will gain a greater sense of belonging and enjoy participating inside and outside of class much more.

#4 Ditch the awkward.

I have a confession.  Due to my majorly over-analytic nature, I am pretty socially awkward.   I really like people and enjoy connecting with them, however I spend too much time thinking while I’m talking and forget to do important things like ask people their names.  There are quite a few moms at my son’s school whom I talk with every now and then, and I have no idea what their names are.  My goal is to not only meet more people through school, but also make sure I ask them their names so we can have a better connection.  This goes along with #3 above, but the more people we connect with, the more enjoyable the school experience will be.

Fall is a great time to challenge yourself for self improvement and expansion in you life.  Make some steps of your own!

These are the things I have laid out for myself to make the most of the “Back to School” and Fall season.  While nature is pulling its energy back, it leaves a lot of room in the universe for us to branch out and improve ourselves.  Take advantage of this beautiful and opportunity-filled time of year and make some plans of your own!

Are you working on self-improvement this fall?  Please let me know in the comments below!


Loving our kids too much – home vs. daycare

Can loving our kids so much be harmful to their future?

Are we doing our children a disservice by loving them so much?

I hold the belief that a parent can never love their child too much.  It is perfectly natural and normal to have your heart melt into a puddle on the floor while watching your child learn, grow and even just smile.   There is no such thing as too many hugs, kisses or encouraging words a child can receive from Mommy or Daddy.  I think the more happiness and love a child is surrounded by, the luckier that child is.

I previously worked full-time, however I quit my job after my maternity leave for my youngest son. He  has never been in daycare and has been at my side almost every day of his existence.  I am so blessed to have a relatively stress free life and I have been patient and nurturing with him almost always, so he does not really know any other behaviors.  My oldest was in the care of other people from 8 weeks on.  It’s a completely different world when you are in the comfort of your home and your mother’s arms from birth until two years verses a stranger when you are only a few weeks old.

Recently, however, I have begun wondering if being at home with my son non-stop is the best thing for him.  Will he be prepared properly to take on the big, bad world if all he knows is mommy’s loving words and embrace?  Honestly, every word that comes out of his mouth is clearly the new cutest thing I’ve ever heard.  I think that being at home might be setting him up for heartache when he realizes what the world is like outside these walls.  My son is a little tough, but he is a lover and doesn’t understand anything but love.  Recently, we were at the park and another one year old boy was marching around the playground with the looks of Popeye and the attitude of O’Doyle from the movie Billy Madison.  (O’Doyle rules!)  My son said “Hiiii” in his soft, high-pitched voice and gently waved at the boy, who proceeded to push him into the wall.  Immediately my son began crying.  He had never experienced treatment like that and he did not understand.  Could this be a look into his future?

As a child, I was at home with my mother until kindergarten.  I had the worst time ever going to school, even through high school.  I have always been extremely sensitive and I never understood why other people were not as caring.  My personality is definitely the majority of the reason I had a hard time, but I wonder if being at home and having so much comfort and love everyday set me up for a harder experience.  It’s strange to think that someone so little can be getting too much love, but the way strangers treat each other these days, it may be beneficial for little kids to be away from mommy in a daycare which provides a nurturing, caring and educational environment.  That way they are eased into the real world much less abruptly than a child who is living in the comfort of their mother’s perfect love and attention.

As parents we are always trying to do what is best for our kids to prepare them for the best future possible.  After all this thinking, all I can conclude is there is no best way.  Every situation has its ups and downs.   We all owe ourselves a pat on the back, because as long as we keep trying and taking care of ourselves and our children, we are doing the what’s right and what’s best, no matter what the individual details may be.

Can we love our kids too much to keep them at home?  Daycare has its pluses!

‘This post is a part of The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Homemade Mondays, Turn it up TuesdaysWine’d Down Wednesday and Wake Up Wednesday.

Getting ready for a road trip with kids

See how I prepared to travel half the country with my two kids in tow!  #roadtrip #vacationprep

Sometimes I think we are nuts, attempting to drive all over the country with our kids strapped in the back seat.  We drove to Florida before our second son was born, and it went perfectly.  Last year we went to the Smoky Mountains with our 5-year-old and baby in tow, it wasn’t bad at all.  This year, however, I am getting a little apprehensive it may not go as well.

We are planning a trip to the east coast: Washington D.C. through Virginia Beach into North Carolina.  Our ultimate destination is this.  That’s right, we’ve got one very big monster truck fan in our family and this will be his ultimate childhood memory.  Now it is my job to pack and plan appropriately to avoid the screaming and fighting which happens when they are trapped in a house too long together… I don’t even want to imagine that in our truck all the way to North Carolina.  I think my husband would drop us all off at a rest stop.

This made me wonder, what do organized moms do for road trips?  Here are some ideas:

  • First aid kit.  You never know!
  • Pillows and blankets!  Hopefully the kids will sleep the entire time we drive.  All 15 hours…
  • Pack activities.  Notice there are no crayons or markers on this list.  Am I the only jerk who won’t let my kids color unless I am sitting next to them?  This is what my son can do with a crayon when left unattended for thirty seconds.  We will skip the crayons in Daddy’s new truck.  Again – trying not to get left at a rest stop!
    • Books for reading.  Only a few, I’m sure they won’t read.
    • Leapfrog computer
    • Flashcards with sight words and numbers.  You never know when a good time for learning will present itself!
    • DVD player and DVDs.
    • Printables like this one from The Reformed Idealist Mom.  I’ll be sneaking in a lesson in science as well.  I love it!
  • Pack snacks.  Try to keep them healthy, no one needs a sugar overdose while trapped in a car.  Have a cooler with a lunch or two stashed in it.  Here are some of the things we took:

Lots of healthy snack ideas for your next road trip.  #realfood #vacationprep

We didn’t actually take our refrigerator on the trip with us, I took the pictures the night before we needed to pack everything up.  Besides, look how dark and creepy it looks.  It would be a great place for a Halloween party.  Some of the containers lurking in the shadows are:

  1. Fresh celery, carrots and tomatoes to dip in tuna salad and hummus.
  2. Tuna salad with pickled radishes and celery.
  3. Udi’s gluten free bread for my son.
  4. Almond butter.  For me, all of it.
  5. Watermelon cut up.
  6. Caprese salad.  Fancy!
  7. Bark thins chocolate in the largest size imaginable.  Thank you Costco.  And yes, we have two of them.
  8. Shredded chicken with BBQ sauce for the littles – they won’t touch tuna salad!
  9. Those insanely expensive fruit pouches my kids eat like its going out of style.  Curse you, convenience items!  I need the reusable ones.

Another fun thing I am bringing is stamps.  A family member just mailed us a post card from their vacation and we loved it!  I am making a goal to mail my family members some fun post cards from places we stop.  I don’t think many people do that anymore, but definitely should.

For some reason I procrastinate packing and organizing until the very last second and then run around like crazy trying not to forget anything.  And I always forget something.  This time around, I am using this checklist from Burlap & Denim.  It has proved very helpful.  I am so organized, I labeled Ziploc baggies with magic marker.  I have a good feeling this trip is going to be another success!

Check out my Pinterest board for more great ideas:

What things do you do to prepare for vacation?  Please share in the comments below!