Autumn is the season that has my heart. Last year, Autumn was very difficult for our family, and I wasn’t able to enjoy it at all, so this year I am looking forward to it even more than usual.
Below are some ideas of things to celebrate, do, make, and tell in Autumn, as you plan the season to come. I hope you enjoy them!
There are so many opportunities for celebration in Autumn, including:
- Harvest. The time of the harvest has been celebrated for hundreds of years, and the harvest festival is traditionally held on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon (this is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox – this year on Sunday 23 September). It’s a time to be feast and be grateful for our food, traditionally giving gifts to those less fortunate. In the US this is tied into Thanksgiving, which is celebrated in November.
- Halloween. Originally a Celtic festival, Halloween has become very commercialised, especially when it comes to children. However, carving a Jack-O-Lantern (whilst signing this song) or decorating a pumpkin, making squash soup, and dressing up can all still be fun – just make sure that you’re clear in your own mind about what you’re comfortable with and what doesn’t sit well with your family values.
- Bonfire Night. This is a holiday primarily celebrated in the UK, also known as Guy Fawkes Night or Fireworks Night. Even if your little one can’t stay up late, sharing sparklers, making a fire in the garden, or just sharing a cozy meal over some candles are all wonderful ways of celebrating. Many towns and cities will run family-friendly early firework displays, or head up to a local hill with a flask of hot chocolate to watch from far away instead.
- Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah and Diwali all take place during Autumn (Chanukah falls quite early this year). Even if you do not celebrate these festivals, they can provide an opportunity to learn about how other cultures and faiths choose to celebrate with your children, through reading books, watching videos, and talking to friends and neighbours.
- (whispers) Christmas. This year, the Winter solstice will be on the 21st December, so most of advent will technically take place during Autumn. This year we are going to be taking Christmas very slow, with a long build up and a long wind down.
This Autumn I will be making a concerted effort to really soak up my favourite season, slowing down and enjoying the sensory feast outside and the coziness inside.
- Rejoice in the world outside. I think Autumn is my favourite season for nature walks; the colours, the smells, the cool mornings and warm days, the puddles, the crunchy leaves, the squirrels (learn this song to sing to your children!). This year I would really like to go apple picking.
- Simplify with an “Autumn clean”… I always feel so motivated to clean, clear and declutter at the end of Summer. It makes sense: we spend more time indoors when it’s cold and rainy, so I want our home to be a nurturing space for us to do that. Get any jobs done that you’ve been putting off – get any leaky gutters fixed, book to have your boiler checked, change your fire alarm batteries – essential if you have candles burning!, repaint any rooms which need it (almost all of ours need re-painting – I am determined to do this very soon!), and generally have a good clear-out so that you can truly enjoy your space.
- …and cozy up your home ready for the cooler weather. Pull out blankets, rugs, and warm duvets that have been away over summer. Stock up on candles (I like these pure beeswax ones) or essential oils. Ensure your flasks or insulated bottles are in good condition (hot coffee is essential for chilly park trips). Make cozy corners which invite you to jump in and snuggle up.
- Enjoy candle-lit meals. As the days get shorter, one of the things I am most looking forward to is candle-lit meals, all day long. We still light candles in the lighter months, but it doesn’t have quite the same effect.
- Savour seasonal books. There is no better way to gently welcome in a new season than curling up with a pile of books you haven’t seen for a year. Here are some Autumnal books we will be reading this year.
- Get warm clothes ready. Dig out your children’s cozy clothes from earlier in the year that still fit and fill in any gaps; buy any new coats, hats, gloves or mittens needed; stock up on cozy socks and PJs; buy cold weather shoes; check rain gear and wellies still fit. And don’t forget to do the same for yourself too! It’s better to get prepared earlier in the season so if you have a surprise cold day, you’re ready.
Here are a few verses perfect for young children that I love for Autumn:
- Harvest. This is a sweet poem that you can bring to life with some simple actions: “Blow, wind, blow! and go, mill, go! that the miller may grind his corn; that the baker may take it, and into bread make it, and bring us a loaf in the morn. When the wind drops, so the mill stops; when the wind blows, so the mill goes, going: ‘clickety-clacketyclickety-clackety-clickety-clacketyclickety-clack.”
- Seeds. Tell this poem slowly whilst doing actions with your hands: “A little seed for me to sow, a little earth to make it grow, a little dig, a little pat, a little wish, and that is that. A little sun, a little shower, a little wait, and then… a flower!”
- Wind / leaves. There are so many similar to this but I love this one, again it could easily be brought to life with a few simple hand gestures: “Come, little leaves,” said the wind one day; Come over the meadows with me and play; Put on your dresses of red and gold; For summer is gone, and the days grow cold. Soon as the leaves heard the wind’s loud call, Down they came fluttering, one and all; Over the fields they danced and flew, Singing the soft little songs they knew. Dancing and whirling the little leaves went; Winter had called them and they were content; Soon, fast asleep in their earthy beds, The snow laid a coverlet over their heads.”
- Apples. You can cut an apple in half to see the “star” inside and tell this poem / sing this song: “My nice red rosy apple, has a secret hid unseen. You’d see if you could slip inside, five rooms so neat and clean. In each room there are living, two pips so shiny bright. Asleep they are a-dreaming, of lovely warm sunlight. And sometimes they are dreaming, of things that are to be. For soon they will be hanging, upon a Christmas tree.”
As soon as the mercury drops my interest for cooking, baking, and crafting is suddenly renewed. I can’t wait to:
- Cook warming foods. Soups, stews, curries, trays of roasted root vegetables, slow-cooked fruit – I am so excited to start cooking food for cooler weather again.
- Get baking. I’m always so excited to bake more as the weather gets cooler. Breads, cakes, biscuits, pies, crumbles muffins – all of these can be made with seasonal ingredients. I’m foreseeing a lot of apple and blackberry pies, pear crumbles, and pumpkin cakes in our home over the coming months as well as loaves and rolls to eat with soup and stews. Even the youngest of children can get involved with baking, and kneading dough is a wonderful sensory experience.
- Create a nature table if you don’t have one already, or find a space (a simple basket or tray will do) for your children to store the many conkers, pinecones, and other natural treasures they are sure to bring home.
- Craft! Here are a few simple ideas to make:
- Jar lanterns. Such an easy craft for even very young children, we will definitely be making more this year. They are perfect if you will be celebrating Martinmas. I love this sweet song to go alongside lantern making, and this one too.
- Felted acorns. Another simple but gorgeous craft. Wet-felt small balls of wool, then stick these inside empty acorn cups. For younger children you can also use playdough or modelling wax.
- Leaf garland. Your child simply needs to collect leaves, then sew thread through each of these to make a garland you can then hang up. Toddlers who aren’t ready for needles yet can still collect leaves and use them for collage.
- Candles. This is one for older children and parents, though young children can help with the preparation and planning. Making your own candles is so easy and satisfying. You can put them in your lanterns!
I am delighted to officially announce that this Autumn I will be running my newest course, Calm Celebrations.
As a parent, you want to give your children joyful experiences. You want to make memories that they will cherish well into adulthood, gifting them moments of calm togetherness alongside exuberant celebration. We know that spending quality time with friends and family is a strong indicator of wellbeing and happiness. But in real life, eagerly anticipated celebrations, festivals, and birthday parties can often end up in overwhelm, exhaustion, and bickering. You want your celebrations to have meaning, to reflect your family values, but find that meaning can often end up lost amongst the piles of gifts and the weight of expectation to create a “perfect day”.
The overwhelm – and over-spending – and following crash that can come with family celebrations can feel inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be. Year after year – anticipated, enjoyed, and remembered – celebrating moments big and small together as a family can bring you closer together.
That is why I am running this course, designed to help you create meaningful and beloved family celebrations that will bring you joy for years to come, whilst staying calm and connected to your children in the process.
The first week of the course will focus on crafting meaningful celebrations and building family traditions that will be cherished for years to come. The second week will focus on peaceful parenting in the context of celebrations. You will learn practical ways to reduce overwhelm – for you and for your children – and ways to keep calm even when things feel anything but. And there will also be a bonus week looking at gifts, toys, and play.