Well, it's October and summer is long gone. As for me, I'm glad it's fall. Children are solidly in the swing of school again, and our family is back to a routine. Heavy-duty homework is to come. Afterschool activities are interesting, not an obligation. Right now, I don't even mind the extra driving in the crisp autumn breeze.
Being a mom for awhile, though, I'm not under any illusions. The lovely weather and peaceful routine are here temporarily. The cold is coming, and soon my to-do list will reach monumental proportions in my role as "director of the holiday season." This begins with Halloween and is almost three months long.
At my house, the holidays involve long-established and valued traditions. After all, the baby books advised me to give my children the joy and comfort that yearly customs bring. As an energetic new mom, I tackled these tasks with relish.
My daughters' naptimes offered dedicated time for decorating, baking, wrapping, buying, stressing, crying -- but I digress. Actually, I enjoy the holidays and usually do my job well. So well that my family's expectations for the holidays can somewhat exceed my energy level now as a seasoned mom.
Sometimes I wonder, would there even be holidays without my efforts? Some years, I quietly cut a few corners. Shh ... don't tell.
Fortunately, my children keep me on track. They realize the welcome-to-autumn wreath is missing from the foyer. I trudge to the basement to find it in a buried tub. (Where is my husband when I need him?) Wreath in hand, I precariously climb on a chair and reach for the highest hook. I love the traditions, right?
Over the years, I taught my growing daughters to do a few holiday jobs themselves. Once when the light strings needed checking, I suggested they turn it into a counting game. They had an hour of fun, and the lights were ready to go after my husband put up the tree. The hardest parts were done.
But they may be on to me. Currently, the girls require me to remain in the kitchen when they start the cookie dough. That tradition started after they once mixed up the batter and then found me asleep next to a stack of untouched gift catalogs.
This month, luckily, the heavy-duty holidays are a ways off. There's still time to start that list and get it done. The season eases me in, thanks to Halloween, a holiday perfect for moms. I know it's close because the delicious scent of chocolate has taken over a corner of the grocery store.
On Halloween, I carve the pumpkins, make a simple dinner, and watch the fun begin. My husband takes our daughters out in costumes, if they want to go. Again, they are getting older. But it's fine if they stay home. We can enjoy the evening together, and I will have lots of helpers to answer the doorbell.
Recently, I heard about moms starting a new Halloween trend. Some are offering only healthy treats to their children and neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Even I am too much of traditionalist to get on board with that. So let's fill the time-honored candy bowl. If any is leftover, I can take care of that. Really, it's on my list.
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