It’s that time of year again! Back-to-school. Whether or not you have kids, there is something about the shift in weather and a collective energy that makes us feel practically obligated to get on that delayed project, shed those vacation pounds, and start something fresh, new, and organized. It’s as if the tighter schedules, (almost) cooler weather, and effort spent convincing kids that they need to change their clothes daily instead of every two or three days is pushing us toward more discipline and routine.
But how much of that do we do for others, and how much of it do we do for ourselves? After all the giving to others of summer, how is the back-to-school rush about giving (and getting) back-to-you?
Back to School Routines
If you have kids, you know what this means: Getting the kids back on a bedtime schedule, buying the supplies, clothes and healthy food they need, coordinating everyone’s schedules, and trying to fit everything into the tidy bento-box that our lives will never actually be outside of Instagram.
If you don’t have kids, that doesn’t mean you’re not also feeling the pressure. There’s a flurry of activity as everyone gets back to work (for real), colleagues that have been missing from the office are back and buckling down, or maybe it’s time for you to get back to school, a schedule and some level of “normal” after letting go for the summer. In either case, we’re giving in to the demands, and shifts, and schedules, and needs… of others.
But why should we choose to make back-to-school about “back-to-you”? Simple – we can’t give to others if there is nothing left of ourselves to give. We are constantly trying to fill the cups of others with our time, energy, creativity, kindness, and strength, but where do those things come from? They come from taking care of ourselves.
Arianna Huffington just released her latest book, “The Sleep Revolution“, in which she outlines how better sleep leads to better everything else. But let’s not only take the guilt out of taking a nap, but also out of reading a book, going for a walk, having coffee with a girlfriend (essential!), or leaving for a weekend without stocking the fridge! Because, let’s be honest, they will eat what they want anyway, and they certainly won’t starve.
This Fall, let’s take the needs, demands, and requests of others and make them into the opportunities they should be, by recognizing that the energy that we feel obligated, pressured, and harried into giving away can be turned into a gift to the person who needs it most- ourselves.