The hectic school schedule is in full swing. The days are getting shorter, darker and cooler. There is a general sense of sadness for the loss of summer freedom: from parents and children alike.

When we move from one season to another, it often changes the way that we engage with one another. In the summer, it is easy to pack a picnic and head to the beach for dinner or to enjoy the extra hours of evening light playing at the park.

In the fall, there is a shift into the “all business mode” of school and organized activities. We are suddenly confined by a rigid schedule and our time is spent shuttling family to school and from activity to activity. There is little room for unstructured time, play and exploration.

This fall, I am trying to make a conscious effort to do things differently. The seasons will continue to evolve, and our family schedule with it, but there is an opportunity to be more intentional about how our time is spent together once this change occurs. It just requires time, attention and practice.

Here are some ideas for bringing the playfulness of summer into your fall routine.

Dance. Start the day with laughter and movement. As a part of your morning routine, put on some music and dance with your child. Take a few minutes to express yourself and move your body. Be silly and let loose. It is guaranteed to make you smile.

Eat. Enjoying a meal together is proven to provide a wide range of social and health benefits for the whole family. It is so important to take the time to connect and communicate. To add a bit of fun, try hosting a picnic dinner on the floor of your living room once a week. Let everyone choose something to bring.

Play. It is easy for the evenings to become dominated by homework or TV. Try to schedule a screen-free family night at least once a week. Take turns choosing activities that you can enjoy together, such as puzzles, board games or taking the dog for a walk.

Explore. Be a tourist in your own town on the weekend and explore local parks and sites. There are great walks at Mt. Doug Park and Thetis Lake and fun monthly events at galleries and museums, such as the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Royal BC Museum.

Rest. Try not to over schedule your down time. Make time for rest and unstructured activity. Follow the summer time freedom model. It is too easy to fill up every moment with activities and chores. Leave a few hours during the evenings and weekends to read, play or nap.

Seasons change without a lot of thought for how it impacts your family. With a little bit of effort and practice, you can bring some summer fun with you as you transition into fall this year.

Lora McKay is a Victoria writer and mother to an amazing nine-year-old daughter and a rescue dog named Lucky. You can read more of her work at breath-by-breath.com.