Back to School – Reflection, Routine and Celebration

Aug 30, 2023

It’s Back to School Time

Today marks the first day of school in our household. We have a seventh grader! Maybe you have heard the age-old saying… “The days are long, and the years are short” and boy oh boy does that ring true!  Every single year as I drive away from drop off on the first day I am overcome with emotion. This year was no exception. I am truly grateful for the teachers, administration and staff at our little school. I am incredibly proud of the kindhearted young lady that walks into the doors of middle school. I am honored to be her mom. I am humbled by all she has taught and continues to teach me every single day. I am amazed at how fast she is growing up. It really seems like yesterday that her grandma walked her into the first day of kindergarten, awww so precious!

first day of kindergarten

It’s a good time to pause and reflect, to reevaluate routines and rituals and of course to…CELEBRATE

So, let’s do that shall we?

I love a good moment of reflection before moving forward. Thanks in large part to Emily P. Freeman and The Next Right Thing podcast, book and journal, I have leaned into and adopted a simple practice of seasonal reflection. Looking back before moving forward.

Summer for us this year was unique and absolutely epic. (More on our Legacy Vanlife Adventure coming soon to the blog, stay tuned.) We certainly filled this season of summer all the way up and are entering fall feeling fulfilled and ready for a new season.

Other years though I found myself wondering if I did enough over the summer break. Was there enough magic, memory making, play and FUN? (In case you are wondering, the answer from my friends is always “YES, you did enough.”) Did I have FUN and PLAY enough? (Too many times the answer to this was “NO.”)

Through the practice of reflection, of asking myself these and other questions, I am able to adjust as needed for the next summer season.  I know I do not have to be in charge of all the magic and memory-making so that gets shared. I know I need more FUN and PLAY for myself, so that gets added. I know summer is a great time to take some time off and spend quality time being present, so that gets scheduled. It is not a practice of beating ourselves up if we didn’t live up to our summer “Ideal.” (Please friends for the love, let that ideal go.) It is a practice of honoring where we are and adjusting where we can.

Fall energy is a thing and I for one am all for it!

There is that feeling of excitement for a change of season with school starting and activities gearing back up. After a more relaxed, or more chaotic, or in truth a whole lot of both, that summertime holds, the fall season welcomes structure and routine. Now personally while I am a fan of structure to a point, I have found myself in a tug of war with “routine.”

Let me explain… It is the word itself and the meaning I have given it. Routine feels too restrictive for me. I guess I am a bit of a free spirit and I crave some flexibility, but I also really truly love productivity. So, here is the switch-up I made for myself, maybe you will find it helpful too, and if not take what you need and leave the rest. I put my focus on “Rituals” over “Routine.” Yes, there is a cadence and a rhythm to my days that I do plan and schedule, but my daily rituals are the little things that give me life, fill me with joy, and bring me peace. I don’t call them all habits because some change seasonally.

Fall is such a beautiful season to add, delete or bring back some daily rituals.

Here are a few of mine that I am welcoming this fall season:

  • Open Windows – With the crisp chill in the air here in Washington I love to open my windows first thing in the morning.
  • Kitchen Lamps – I bring back my kitchen counter lamps in the Fall. They are a delight, just enough warm light without overpowering my eyes early in the morning. So cozy!
  • Fall-Scented Candles – I tend to light candles all year long but going into Fall the scents get a little warmer and cozier…apple pie, pumpkin and vanilla…YUM!
  • Getting Ready Before School Drop Off – I read once, (my apologies I cannot remember who said it or where I read it) that our kids are worth getting ready for and I have made it a priority since then. Now hear me well, I am NOT saying full hair and makeup and fancy clothes. Heck, I am not even suggesting you put on hard pants. Getting ready means different things for everyone and ALL forms are welcome here. I am suggesting getting ready like you would for let’s say an appointment, a client meeting, a lunch date, etc. That may mean clean PJs, perfect! That may mean full hair, makeup and those fancy shoes. Excellent. Somedays that may mean gym clothes if a workout is in the plan. Beautiful. It is a practice of intention that shows our children they get that version of mom and/or dad just like others do, that they are worth getting ready for. Since summer tends to be more laid back, I tend to bring this practice back as a daily ritual in the Fall.
  • Daily Practice of Movement, Mediation, Journaling and Reading – These are my daily vitamins and due to travel and FUN they can be pushed around a little in the summer, so with renewed fall energy they get placed back into a more structured plan…and for a while they actually get scheduled in my calendar until the rhythm returns.
  • Morning Music – I play music in the kitchen every school morning, it can help with the sleepy wake-up as school starts up again, it can ease the nervous system and it almost always leads to some kind of dancing which is an AWESOME way to move and wake up for the day ahead.


I love any reason to Celebrate and am known to create my own reasons to Celebrate…Like a Monday, for example. I mean getting through a Monday is pretty spectacular.

The First Day of School, well that feels like it is worth celebrating. Celebrate making it through summer. (Good job parents, CHEERS to YOU!) Celebrate getting to school on time on the first day. Why not? It’s hard to wake up early! Celebrate the start to a new season, a new grade, a new schoo. Starting something new is exciting and cause for Celebration. For me, Celebration is a core value but really it is a simple practice in acknowledgment, and I believe we could all use a little more acknowledgment and celebration in our lives. Job well done my friend!

I love Kendra aka The Lazy Genius and her approach on opening and closing ceremonies.  I also adore Jen Hatmaker and her take on the first week of back-to-school.

Remember, there are many ways to celebrate. So go ahead, hang a streamer, set the table, bake the cookies, pop the cork, throw confetti, eat cake, go out for ice cream, order pizza, put on a movie, or take a nap.  Treat yourself and your back-to-schoolers and celebrate this amazing day!

Until next time friends.  I cherish you and I am celebrating you! 

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Melissa Garcia is the founder of Roots to Wings Collective, a 300-hour certified yoga teacher, and an eternal optimist. Melissa holds space for connection, creativity, and celebration, through movement, meditation, energy work, and intentional rituals. She believes in magic and that there is no such thing as too much glitter!

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