Dear Together Friends, Fans, and Family
First of all, thanks for the feedback, input and notes on our new mini-newsletter with a Together Tour showing how Versha organizes her life. I can’t wait to share the next one with you in a few weeks, and we have a great line-up for the new year too! Nominate yourself – or a colleague – here and include the WHY and at least 3 Togetherness artifacts.
I’m writing this a week before our Big Blended Family of six heads to Ireland for Thanksgiving week to see my in-laws (Dr. Together was born and raised in Dublin!). Shockingly, it appears that the minute we get back, it is DECEMBER. I don’t need to add to the noise about joyful holiday seasons, emotional labor of planning, and seasons of too much and too busy…but I know we’re all feeling it.
However, I do spend time thinking about how to make things run smoothly and joyfully before, during and after busy periods of time. A few things we are doing over here at Togetherness Central and in The Semi-Together Household.
- For some efficiency. . . instituted a cousin gift exchange. My sister will be with us for the holidays this year, so the six cousins have created a name-drawing system that was completed last week. This reduces cost and increases thoughtfulness, though some switching of names may have already started occurring! Hmmm. . . .
- For some prioritization . . . scheduled a Team Tidy Time right before the December holidays to ensure we all have time to clean up from the past trimester and plan for the next one. This is four hours on our calendars with stated intentions and outcomes. It ensures we take time to go through notes, learnings, and loose documents – and set our priorities for when we return from our Together Team Two-Week Shutdown.
- For some connection. . . shipped Together Treats to our team. Our core team had the wonderful idea earlier this year that every other month, a team member has a small budget to share treats with our other members. This adds some fun and connection for our every-single-time-zone-spanning team. I shipped whoopie pies from my home state of Maine in September, and who knows what Heidi in Chicago has in store for us this month!
- For some extra Together Life Training . . . Trained my children on how to deep clean the bathroom because, well, let’s just say: it was time. They donned rubber gloves, and they oddly found it very fun. If you ever come to the Semi-Together Household, you will find I use chart paper and visual anchors as my interior design scheme. Note, they even put their initials by their chores!
- For some planning. . . calendared key dates and events for the first half of 2024. Kid #4’s 11th birthday in February? Done! Dentist appointments for the year? On it! Triple-checked school days off for the remainder of the academic year? Oh yes! You can read more of my suggestions on this over here.
- For some grace. . . built in time to prepare AND to re-enter. Before I leave for Ireland, I’ll run through a departure preparation checklist (out of office responses drafted, responsibilities shared with colleagues, Weekly Worksheet set for the week I return). And I’ve already carved out time in my calendar post-trip for some re-entry blocks (an inbox clean-out, a longer check-in with some colleagues, and a re-populating of my fridge and pantry!)
Your turn! Let me know how you are preparing for 2024 over here! I’ll compile a list for our next newsletter.
PS If you didn’t get a chance to see our Together-Your-Lunch post, I’d still love to know some of your recipes in the comments section of the post. While I cannot always reply to every email because of my teaching and writing schedule, I do love reading your comments. . . plus they help this extrovert author feel seen!
PPS Speaking of loving responses to my writing, Beth Napleton CAME THROUGH with this amazing description of a personal Togetherness artifact she can’t live without: You know I keep an update to spreadsheet of all the times I have seen Springsteen live and what he’s played… I may love this spreadsheet more than any other spreadsheet ever. How else would I be able to say “actually, you may be surprised to know the song Bruce has played the most when I’ve seen him in concert is not Born to Run?” Nerd alert! It also helps me relive so many memories in all the best ways.
Together Treasure Box
- “For most tasks, ‘good enough’ is perfect.” I love these cleaning strategies for folks with ADHD, including the idea of redefining clean as functional – rather than holding ourselves to a standard of perfection. Right on! Has anyone read her full gentle book? Start on your feet is my favorite!
- What is the correct number of beverages to have on your desk at work? Beverage goblins unite! Click here to find out. (Spoiler: it’s also the number of beverages I have on hand most of the time!). Also Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade is my new afternoon Together Treat!
- A decision-tree that made me laugh aloud. . . my long-time friend Heather Peske shared this on Facebook, and I’m 100% that mom who says, “But have you put on a sweater?” while holding an Iced Dunkin. When raised in central Maine in an abandoned gas station heated by only a small woodstove. . .
- Some great strategies for effective parent-teacher communication We’re all busy and who doesn’t get more email than they can handle?! Check out these sample parent emails to teachers which maximize impact and open communication.