Those crystal blue skies were still with us this morning, but now accompanied by that sharp cold undercurrent in the air, which can only mean one thing – Autumn. Today’s the first meteorological day of autumn, with the equinox on the 21st for astrological autumn to follow. Corn Moon happens this month (tomorrow, 2nd September), and there’s more about lunar rituals with Dr Ezzie Spencer on this month's great next read.
Like a lot of the country over August I’ve been on a staycation break and partial mental break (as much as is possible in a global pandemic).
I’m born mid-August so I always feel for that reason, hand-in-hand with the new academic year, the ‘fresh start, new pencil case’ feeling quite strongly. It is a timely moment to review the past year and further back, to aim to make some good decisions about the future.
This means doing less, better.
September is about change. This year is even more heightened with 6 months of social distancing rules in the UK being relaxed enough for the children to return to school. I have prepped myself for making sure there is as much space as I can to hold the children as we move into this new phase. This is supported centrally by my wellbeing practices. I hasten to add I will not execute this perfectly, but I hope to engage some of my hard ‘university of life’ learning to make it as smooth as possible for them, and for me and my OH. This means doing less, better.
I can’t help but reflect on the me who experienced a very different school start just a few years ago when my eldest started primary school. Simultaneously, my youngest started nursery (aged a year) and I started a new job returning from maternity leave with 2 hour or more round-trip commute. On day 1, I had successfully dropped of child number 2 with barely any crying, and had almost completed drop of child number 1, when I had a call from school before I had even left school grounds to say child number 2 was unwell. In my haste to go and pick him up, totally blinded by racing thoughts about how I was going to re-arrange work, I hurried back to the car, which promptly broke down. Then my laptop also gave up. Thankfully, I could get a mechanic out very quickly to change the battery and pick up my poorly youngest. Thankfully, I had an excellent job share who was understanding. Thankfully, it all worked out. But what a lesson! One I’m still learning – balancing my ambition with my responsibility and wellbeing, with a side dish of ‘gratitude will help combat the negativity.’
Self-care is top priority. It is not self-indulgence, it is essential.
3 years later I continue to be a perfectionist in recovery. This time I haven’t got it down to a fine art, particularly with the curve ball of COVID-19, but what I did learn is to dial back the work, don’t expect to do it all yourself and expect it to be bumpy. So, what does it look like?
· Self-care is top priority. It is not self-indulgence, it is essential. Repeat, you cannot give from an empty well.
· SLEEP is at the utmost top of my self-care list. That means, earlier nights (although Succession is highly addictive viewing), and if time, a bath with Epsom salts with Copiaba and Lavender doTERRA essential oils. If not, rubbing a blend on my temples will suffice. This is so I can get up with a decent 1.5 – 2-hour stretch before leaving the house.
· Balance essential oil blend on the soles of the feet when waking to help me feel grounded and not all over the place with ‘too many tabs open’ in the grey matter.
· Meditate for even just a minute on the shower mat. The running water also cleans up the atmosphere energetically so this can be a highly efficient plug-in for those of us with high demand on our time.
· Set clear boundaries with work colleagues over this time to manage expectations, but probably more importantly, your own.
· Getting time outside in nature. Enjoy the changes in the hedgerows and leaves and the change in temperature of the air as you breathe in and out on a walk to school, or after drop-off with a pal. A ramble could be great quality time with one of the children who may not be back to school just yet.
· Take time to revisit your plans which may be written or visual, whatever floats your boat. Has anything changed? What action can you take next to move towards your goal that will be as gentle as it is effective whilst there is so much else going on.
· Have an empowering playlist to listen to that is going to help transport you into this next season with as much inspiration as possible. The slump is real people!
· Move – walk, dance, run, get on your bike. Whatever you need to do to shake of the stagnant energy.
With the kids or people you care for:
· Listen. In the widest sense of the word; body language, tone of voice, energy level. Then you are better attuned to meeting their needs. Again, this does not go perfectly for me, and is a daily practice.
· I scribbled ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’ on our kitchen notice board and we talked about (and listed) what they were looking forward to in starting a new pre-school/returning to school.
· Expect them to be ‘tired’ which actually translates as short tempered and uncooperative. Meaning, do your best to get as much organised as possible the night before to make leaving the house a smidgen of a percentage easier.
· Use a similar approach as you have modelled in terms of self-care. Use lavender oil at an earlier bedtime, include a drop of tea tree through shampoo or combed through the hair to support a healthy scalp, and OnGuard blend to compliment immunity. I also diffuse OnGuard blend by our front door over breakfast and when coming home to further support us with this as well as OnGuard Foaming Hand Wash.
· My eldest can get easily overwhelmed (the apple doesn’t fall far), and this year we have made a Wild Orange roller ball blend for her to use in the mornings and when she feels frustrated.
And finally, things won’t go exactly the way you planned. Let go. These strategies are not all employed in robot fashion, but as best fits the situation. With school class ‘bubbles’ set to burst at any moment we must be prepared to be unprepared. I write these thoughts to remind myself as much as you so we can celebrate the wins and continue to navigate these changeable waters with as much band width as we can muster through moment to moment self-care ritual.