The Autumnal Slowdown

Tree with yellow leaves

Autumn officially starts today (even if the trees have been shedding their leaves for weeks and my Instagram comprises 40% chunky knits, 30% apples and the usual 30% legs encircling hot drinks are NOW WITH TARTAN PYJAMAS!).

The lifestyle and parenting blog world (I'm guessing, based on previous years of experience) will spend today sharing lovely lists of things to do this season. There will be lots of shots of autumn leaves-
Autumn leaves
-and you may well find yourself googling "pumpkin patch UK".

Clearly, I'm no exception. I love an inspirational activities list as much as... well... anybody else who isn't spending today moaning about them on Twitter.

But they do make me feel a bit overwhelmed. I mean, there's the lack of a car issue for a start ("pumpkin patch UK" does not return any results within walking distance of my home) but, seriously, if I was to try to tick everything off of all those lists, I'd wear through my wellies. And I love my wellies; I don't want to do that. There aren't enough weekends in a season to bake bramble crumble, entwine the dining room in garlands of fallen leaves, make a special trip to the most photogenically yellow and orange forest and find time to get the laundry done (by which I mean: rewatch Pushing Daisies).

Autumn, to me, is a time of winding down, cosying up and snuggling in. It's a great time to get outdoors (armed with a flask of hot chocolate) but it's also the perfect time to stay home (armed with a mug of hot chocolate). To nest. To curl up with good/purposely very bad books. To eat warm food, turn the lights down low and stop putting pressure on ourselves to ACHIEVE. It's a chance to build our reserves before the Christmas rush. It's a time for home comforts. And hot chocolate. And did I mention the hot chocolate?

So, with all that in mind, here's my simple living, slow living list of things to do this autumn:



Pick or buy apples and pears and plums. If you've got the time and the motivation and you find baking relaxing, bake with them. If that's not your kind of thing, that's totally okay - just enjoy eating seasonal fruit.
Likewise, brambles. If you spot them out and about, eat them. Or gather them for later. Watch your fingers turn purple with glee.
Gorge on pumpkin. You can pick one or buy one and cook it up yourself. Or you can buy the inevitable pumpkin-based soups and other concoctions from the supermarket. No judgement here - my take on slow living is "whatever helps you relax", not "whatever gives you the most step-by-step cooking shots to share on Instagram".

Bowl of apples

Get Outdoors

Watch the leaves change colour. Go for a walk in the woods or eat your lunch in the park often enough that you notice the changes. Do you want to photograph the same scene every week of the season? I'm all for that. You don't? Don't, then. Just get outdoors now and then.
If you find fallen conkers, fondle them. You don't have to do anything else with them - display them or make jewellery or stage arty shots for social media - if you don't want to. Just enjoy the smooth sensation of them rolling around in your hand.
Kick through autumn leaves, just because they're there. Pick some up and smile at the colours. Instagram them, if you're so inclined, then let them go. Or take them home, preserve them and do some arts and crafts - it's up to you.
Maybe plant some spring bulbs. My approach is to cram as many in a container as I can and keep my fingers crossed (so far, so successful). I find lopping all the big shrubs down to the ground surprisingly therapeutic, too.

Nest (This Is The Bit Which Takes A Little Bit Of Effort)

Wash your blankets and cushion covers. Because, if you're going to be snuggled into them a lot, best to wash off the pizza stains. If your cushions are looking a bit mangled, consider replacing the pads.
Declutter the surfaces you look at most often. Ideally, declutter all your surfaces, but, at a minimum: tackle any you can see from your favourite spot on the sofa.
Shoogle your lamps around until they're in the places you need them most.
Not to encourage too much effort, but you're probably going to have your windows closed and your heating on a lot over the coming months, so get rid of your stealth dust bunnies now. Places to look for the sneaky, sneeze-causing stuff: light shades; skirting boards; behind radiators; under the sofa.

Sarah Rooftops showing daughter autumn leaves


One lovely book to teach kids about the changing seasons is Tap The Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. It claims to be for age 4+ but we've been enjoying it with Matilda for about a year now.
Invite friends round for Halloween horror movies or "reindeer games" in December. Or just to hang out, listen to music and chat. Hangovers are not really in the spirit of lovely, relaxing slow living (plus, I'm not drinking just now so WHY SHOULD ANYBODY ELSE, EH?!) but a Drain Your Old Duty Free party is a good fun way of clearing the booze cupboard before Christmas rolls around.
Find a cafe which has hot drinks, especially good cake and a fine selection of board games. And visit it.


Create a bedtime routine for yourself. Try to get eight hours a night. Nine, if they're going to be broken by a small child. Go to bed at a sensible time.
To help with that: switch off the internet at least an hour before your sensible time and put three books you're excited to read (one for each month of autumn) on your bedside table (dare you to choose them because they've got red, orange and yellow spines; bonus points if one is an old favourite).

For ideas which take a bit more effort (we're talking arts and crafts and sticking the oven on) and for things to do with kids, check out my Autumn Pinterest board here.

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