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8 Fun Ways to Celebrate Fall With Your Family

8 Fun Ways to Celebrate Fall With Your Family

The Autumn season has begun. Leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter and the sun goes down a lot faster. School has started and most children are caught up in the anticipation of the coming holidays.

There are so many wonderful ways for a family to spend time together in the fall. The weather is getting a little bit cooler, but it is still warm enough to spend time outside together in the backyard or on the patio.

Here are 8 fun ways to spend family time:

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1. Backyard barbecue

It’s still nice enough in most areas to spend time in the yard. Whether you are scraping the remaining weeds out of the garden, or just hanging out on the porch, there are still plenty of evenings where you can gather as a family in the backyard. Having a barbecue is one way to celebrate fall. Throwing some meat on the grill, and a few veggies too, sounds good. Corn on the cob tastes incredible when it is wrapped in tin foil and grilled. Many homes have a patio that is already set up for parties and barbecues for family and friends to gather around the firepit, for a bit of food and fun, which can include roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.

Scott Robinson on Flickr

    2. Movie night

    As the evenings get colder, it’s a great idea to create a movie night for your family. You can plan dinners around the night, such as making it a pizza night or grabbing a meal at a restaurant. Popcorn and special treats can be included, and you can ask the kids what kind of movie they want. Just spending time together enjoying a movie is one of my favorite memories of my own family. Watching a movie together as a family helps to promote a sense of security in children and shows them they can enjoy being at home and don’t always have to be on the go to have fun. They can relax and feel safe in a loving home environment.

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    3. Leaf gathering

    You could plan a leaf raking day, or you could go on a walk with your children in the neighborhood for a leaf gathering excursion. Small preschool children and those in grade school would enjoy this kind of activity. After you have gathered many different types of leaves, you can sit down and look at them together and then paste them into a homemade book, or put them into frames. Using thrift store frames is an inexpensive way for children to cherish the leaves they have gathered with you. Another idea is to use the leaves for leaf rubbing pictures. You simply place the leaves beneath the paper and rub sideways with a pencil or crayon, to create a beautiful picture. You could also press the leaves in a book or leaf-presser, to be viewed in a week or so.

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      4. Tidy up the yard

      One of the best ways to celebrate Fall is to work on cleaning up the yard as a family. If you decorated your yard for Halloween, now is a good time to take it down, and you can clean up the yard by raking leaves. With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday around the corner, you can also think of ways to dress up the yard for that. There are so many interesting ways to decorate your yard. You can use solar lights along the walkways to make your yard more visible in the evening or string lights in the trees for the Christmas holiday. The best time to put up lights is before the weather turns cold, so now is a good time to plan your decor. Children love to be a part of creating yard displays or yard art. Just shop around for ready to hang decor, or make your own. The important part is just doing it as a family and letting your children help make decisions and letting them put it together.

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      5. Family bike ride

      Everyone is familiar with bike riding, but it can be extra fun when the whole family participates. This can be a very relaxing thing to do, which helps build confidence in youngsters and to helps to create a bond between parents and kids when they go on rides together. This is one of the easiest things to do as a family and it usually doesn’t cost any money. You can bike ride around your neighborhood, or find some paved trails near a park in your city. Your children can enjoy the outdoors and also learn about things like how to wear helmets and how to ride safely. The whole family will be getting exercise too.

      Travis on Flickr

        6. Go on a hike

        Another idea is for the whole family to load up in the car and drive somewhere to hiking trails. This can be an exciting thing for the children because they are exploring new areas and building confidence, along with their muscles. Even very small children can go hiking. If necessary, you can carry your kids in a carrier on your back, if they are too small to keep up. Family bonding time is so very important, and it’s a good idea to do it as often as you can. There are many things to teach children out in nature, and it’s important to take time to let them enjoy it, and not push them too hard. If your children are very young, even a stroll at the park can be enough of an outing to make them happy. Being outdoors, especially in the fall, is a great way for all of you to enjoy the beauty of nature.

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        7. Bake cookies

        Baking cookies is a simple project to undertake, and it can get really interesting when you let your children do it with you. Walking them through the process and teaching them how to bake cookies, step by step, is something that nearly every child enjoys. Not only are they learning how to do something, but they can be having fun and then they get the reward of tasting them afterward. When the weather begins cooling down, baking cookies is a great thing to do with your kids. Or, if they like some other type of baked goods, you can do that too. Before you know it, they will be offering to do it themselves and you can supervise. They can make the treats, while you just watch.

        Brian Richardson on flickr

          8. Do a craft project

          The fall is a time best suited to craft projects for children, especially because they are back in school. You can use crafts to explore their interests and see what kind of projects they enjoy the most. Whether it is drawing, painting or putting pieces together with glue, crafting is one of the funnest things to do as a family. Children can learn to express themselves and enjoy creating something special, which can gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. There are even garden art projects your kids can make.

          The coming of the holidays is a perfect opportunity to do craft projects with your kids. There are dozens of ideas available from many sources on the internet, or even at your local craft store that will inspire you to try doing new things with your children. They can make something special to hang on the walls, or on the door. Or, for Thanksgiving, they can work on table or window decorations, and for Christmas, they can start making ornaments for the tree.

          Family activities are something you should always make time for in today’s busy world. It may seem hard for families to come together in the fall, because of busy school and work schedules, but you should take the time to do them. When you make creative use of everyday activities, you are bonding with your children and building memories of family fun that your kids will remember for years to come.

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          Karen Bresnahan

          Photographer/Writer/Artist

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          Last Updated on August 20, 2019

          How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

          How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

          Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

          Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

          I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

          You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

          Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

          When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

          I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

          Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

          Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

          Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

          1. The Inner Critic

          This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

          • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
          • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
          • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
          • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

          The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

          Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

          2. The Worrier

          This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

          The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

          3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

          This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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          This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

          The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

          4. The Sleep Depriver

          This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

          The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

          • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
          • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
          • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
          • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

          How can you control these squatters?

          How to Master Your Mind

          You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

          Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

          There are two ways to control your thoughts:

          • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
          • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

          This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

          The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

          Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

          For the Inner Critic

          When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

          You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

          For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

          You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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          “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

          If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

          • They rile up the Worrier.
          • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
          • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
          • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
          • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

          Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

          Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

          For the Worrier

          Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

          Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

          You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

          • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
          • Muscles tense

          Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

          If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

          Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

          “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

          Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

          If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

          Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

          Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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          For example:

          If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

          “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

          Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

          “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

          Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

          For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

          Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

          The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

          • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
          • Muscles tension

          I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

          Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

          Breathe in through your nose:

          • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
          • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
          • Focus on your belly rising.

          Breathe out through your nose:

          • Feel your lungs emptying.
          • Focus on your belly falling.
          • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

          Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

          Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

          One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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          Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

          For the Sleep Depriver

          (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

          I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

          Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

          1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
          2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

          When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

          From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

          For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

          If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

          You can also use this technique any time you want to:

          • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
          • Shut down your thinking.
          • Calm your feelings.
          • Simply focus on the present moment. 

          The Bottom Line

          Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

          You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

          Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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