Get outside (plus a call for back-to-school tips)

During the winter, I set a Q1 goal to get outside for at least 20 minutes each day. This generally meant bundling up and running outside, or at least tromping around the yard in my boots, hat, mittens, scarves… When the sun sets at 4:45 p.m., it can be easy to go days experiencing the outside only on quick jaunts to the car, and to barely see the light at all. I found that by forcing myself outside for at least 20 minutes a day, I felt far more cheery about winter. Fresh air — particularly physical activity in that fresh air — is a natural mood booster, even if the air is cold.

A discovery this weekend: Fresh air is still a natural mood booster, even if that air is blazing hot.

With the temperature flirting with 100 degrees or so both weekend days, I figured I’d run on the treadmill. But after running on the treadmill on Friday — and detesting it as usual — I decided to brave the elements.

And it turned out to be fine. On Saturday morning, I ran for about half an hour, from 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. It was hot (a bit above 80 degrees), but totally doable. On Sunday I got up a little earlier and ran outside from about 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. Then I came home and grabbed the 4-year-old, who’d begged to go on a bike ride the night before (at 8 p.m., which is why it didn’t happen) and took him and his little bike to the sidewalk that runs around a retirement community that’s a quarter mile down the road from us. He biked and I ran, which means I got another 1.5 miles in.

When we came back shortly before 9 a.m. we were both sweating a lot. But we were very proud of ourselves!

We went swimming both weekend days too. On Saturday, I supervised a pool play date, and then hung out poolside as other children and my husband went in after then. On Sunday we went to a housewarming party for my parents in their new place in New Jersey. We swam in their apartment complex pool, hovering near the spot where the cold water was being pumped in (because the rest felt like a bathtub!) As I walked back to their apartment, I felt like the temperature must have dropped 20 degrees. It hadn’t (it was still 91 after 6 p.m….) but being damp helps a lot.

Add in a stroller walk on Saturday night with the 4-year-old (while the big kids and my husband went to The Lion King) and I spent quite a bit of time outside despite the heat. It was…not so bad. Do I prefer to run outside in 65 degree weather? Sure — but the weather won’t always deliver that. This was doable nonetheless.

In other news: Sarah and I are planning for a back-to-school Best of Both Worlds episode with all our best tips! If you’ve got a go-to strategy for a tranquil transition, please leave it in the comments below!

12 thoughts on “Get outside (plus a call for back-to-school tips)

  1. Looking forward to your BTS edition (Back to School, not the Korean boy band, though that would be fun too!). Some things that have made it easier for us:
    –I just sat down and entered the entire school years’ worth of days off, half days, etc. into our shared family calendar and put in the recurring reminders to pick up on Early Release days (which we’ve forgotten a few times!).

    –My husband wanted to do some personal travel this fall, so he wanted to talk about our travel plans so he could schedule around them. This sort of forced us to plan earlier, and in one night, I bought tickets/reserved hotel for my girls’ birthday trip to Universal Studios, scheduled a visit from my parents, and found a great deal on airfare for our December trip to London, so we snapped that up as well, and now all those dates are firm on our calendar. It feels really good to have all planned travel on the calendar through the end of the year.

    –I signed up my kids for most of their fall activities already and put those on the calendar. There might be one or two still pending as we don’t get info on after-school stuff until school starts but otherwise we’re settled.

    –It’s HOT here through October, so no school shopping needed for us – my kids just wear summer clothes through the first couple of months of school. Also, backpacks from Lands End are going strong (this will be the 5th year!).

    –We’ll do a week of “practice” getting ready on time before school starts as my younger one has developed an awesome (but bad for punctuality) habit of waking up and reading in her bed vs getting up and ready. Bribes and sticker chart may be involved. My mom did this for me in elementary school and it was actually kind of fun. I still remember the brand new box of 64 crayons I got for completing that week 🙂

  2. Being ready for the huge volume of papers coming in throughout the year is something I’ve prepped for. Each kid has a large plastic file box with folders for pre-K through 12th grade. Anything super special (stories they write, artwork) gets put in the appropriate folder and the rest is thrown away immediately. We also set up a command center in a back hallway of the house that includes an erasable calendar (the master family calendar) and a corkboard for notices.

  3. – Buy the PTA-sponsored pack of school supplies. Who needs to be the crazy woman at Target looking for Ticonderoga pencils?
    – Forget back-to-school clothes shopping. It’s still pretty hot in the early fall, and there’s a good chance that when it gets cooler, the spring sweaters will still fit. (We buy all kids clothes a little large and let them wear them until they reach “Eurotrash Tight.” The it’s time for a new T-shirt!)
    – A good backpack will last years. Use it for years. They Do. Not. Need . to be fashion statements.
    – See if the school website has a button to add all calendar events to your e-cal. Ours does and it’s a huge time saver. Ignore “Kindergarten Orientation” if it doesn’t apply. Still much easier than entering by hand.
    – Plan something fun for Labor Day weekend, either to say “good job!” for a first week back, or to close out the summer if they have a late start.

  4. With two teacher parents, our entire family goes back to school in September. I ease the transition by keeping the evenings as free as possible for the first few weeks– they will get filled up by back-to-school nights (for all of us!), paperwork, and adjusting our energy levels. On the weekends, though, I plan fun activities– day trips and even weekends away. We all need things to look forward to, and there are fewer house chores in the fall because we’ve just completed a whole summer of home projects. I emphasize fun fall activities like pumpkin picking, cider donuts, and fall foliage walks.
    It’s the reverse of the way I plan the rest of the year, with relaxation time on weekends and full schedules during the week.

  5. – Know what your priorities are. Kid #2 had 3 after school activities last year and it was too much? Cut back. You can usually add activities mid-year, but a calm start to the year is best.
    – I don’t book anything for the first week of school. Dentists, doctors, orthodontists, can all wait a week until we settle in.
    – Plan something fun for the first weekend after school starts. It can be an amusement park trip, a multi-family BBQ, just something to hark back to the carefree summer days.
    – Try to have at least 1 afternoon a week when no one has any activities. It leaves space for spontaneous trips to the frozen yogurt shop, early sushi dinners, time at the park, even a family movie on a Tuesday.
    – Plan a family vacation so that we all have something to look forward to. A long weekend in October, a big holiday trip… I need to know that there will be a break at some point.

    Om another note, I’d love an episode, or answer to what to do about childcare as you transition from full-time care to all kids in school. Personally, I would still want the help with laundry and grocery shopping, as well as the on-call nature of having someone available for sick days in the winter. I wonder if Laura could expound upon her choices as she transitions to 4 kids in school?

    1. @Jessica- thanks for the tips! As for the last part, on childcare when all kids are in school…my little guy is only in school 3 hours a day, and his school basically runs from mid-September to the first week of June, with all the corresponding holidays and breaks in there. So we’re definitely not in a situation yet where we’d be changing up much in terms of childcare. One reason a number of families do go the au pair route (as we discussed in this week’s BOBW) is the flexibility to get childcare in the mornings, and then in the afternoons, and some on the weekends, plus the coverage for random things. Au pairs tend to be cheaper than a traditional nanny salary, though you need enough space, and you’re responsible for their living expenses.

  6. A few BTS tips.

    1. Get all the dates in the calendar-now! It’s still enough time before it starts to not feel like it’s all beginning, I found. This was the first time I did this, put my academic calendar, the kids academic calendars (2 different ones) and it was life giving. I can now figure out our trips, holidays, and days some kids are home for school closures already and the others aren’t.
    2. Build in dates with partner and for yourself now too.
    3. Check medical appointments for the year to make sure they are set for your kids and yourself. Schedule that haircut and pedi!
    4. If your school offers BTS supplies to be ordered online and shipped to the school DO THIS THING.
    5. Get new lunchboxes, thermoses and backpacks in July, many places have sales now.
    6. Build in fun things to do when kids get home, if you are the caretaker, I often want to keep working for that last 4-5 hour but if a few times a week I build in something already for us to do, I’ll value getting the work done and just be with them.
    7. Figure out any formal activities now (e.g., dance) and while you are at it, sign up for something yourself. I’m taking swimming lessons to better my time at the triathlon I do in April!

  7. Alas, my son’s school/PTA doesn’t offer a back-to-school supplies box – I’m so jealous! We live in a rural area where getting to a store is a bit of a trip. So my tip: order EVERYTHING you can online. Amazon and Target have almost all of the school supplies that could be on any list, and we use StitchFix for clothes. Done and done.

    1. @Amy – yeah, we’ve never had an “order the box” option either. That sounds like a great idea for the districts that do have it, though I imagine it requires the teachers to submit lists much farther ahead of time.

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