My youngest started kindergarten recently and in the days leading up to the beginning of school, I savored the thought of finally having some time for myself after almost 10 years of being a stay at home mom. I imagined all the things I would do (or not do) once my kids were loaded up on the big yellow bus and I had some blessed peace and quiet in my home.

I was wishing the end of summer away, really.

Then, faster than I expected, I found myself knee deep in forms to fill out and supplies to buy and meet and greets to attend and all the things that come with jumping back into a new school year.

I want to press pause and rewind. Can we go back—please?

All summer I complained of being together too much, but now I find myself missing my little ones throughout the day. The quiet is much noisier than I expected and my house seems a bit sad when the chaos is gone for seven hours each day.

From May through July, I complained often about our lack of routine, sure that my kids thrive most when they're living in the structured daily grind of the school year. Now I wake up tired and feel borderline teary when I look at my calendar for the week filled with activities it tells me I must participate in. I'm stretching thinner each day, and suddenly the routine doesn't seem all it's cracked up to be.

Over summer break, I bemoaned the fact that my kids would come tromping into the kitchen around 10:00 a.m., begging for a late breakfast (because they'd been too busy watching Netflix to eat at a reasonable time.) Now I'm waking at 6:00 a.m. to help three children be ready to hop on the bus at 7:07 a.m., and from the second my feet hit the floor there's work to be done. I think I get close to 5,000 steps in before my kids have even left for school. Suddenly I'm realizing that I miss the days of leisurely 10:00 a.m. breakfasts.

I miss the time spent splashing around the pool, the afternoons spent in a movie theater to escape the heat, the spontaneous trips out for ice cream. I miss having nowhere to be and pizza nights with neighbors.

I miss summer, and it's only just said goodbye.

The thing is, mamas, much of life is what we choose to make it. We get to set the tone in our own homes for the kind of lives we want to live.

Do we want to be slaves to our schedules, or do we want to create open space in every one of our days?

Do we want to allow each morning to become an hour and seven minutes of chaos before we get the kids off to school, or do we want to adopt some habits that will allow us to begin our days more peacefully?

Do we want to over-commit and spend our lives in our vehicles, driving carpool from one end of creation to another, or do we learn to say “no" to unnecessary things and embrace unstructured time? Our kids need it, you know. So do we.

When it comes to how I've allowed our school year to begin, I'm starting to think I need a redo, and today's a good day to start fresh. Just because summer is fading away, doesn't mean its best bits have to fade away too.

Holding onto the best bits of summer means—

I will create space each day for unstructured togetherness.

I will make sure I'm in my home long enough each day to hear my children's laughter ring out through the halls.

I will carefully consider my calendar and our commitments because living life spread thin is not the way I want to live. It's easy to think I'm doing the best thing for my children when I offer them countless opportunities to try new things and pursue new interests, but when chasing those things comes at the expense of my family's ability to find rest and peace, it's simply not worth it.

I will do my best to make mornings less stressful so we all start the day on a positive note. Maybe it means I prep breakfast and pack lunches the night before, or that I wake up 15 minutes earlier so I'm not in such a rush. Maybe it means I pour a cup of coffee and sit down with my kids while they eat breakfast instead of unloading and reloading the dishwasher because the dishes aren't going anywhere.

I will still make impromptu trips to the ice cream parlor with my children even when the air grows cold, and we'll make Friday family movie nights a priority. I'll host pizza dinners in the neighborhood because togetherness is never out of season and I'll feel the warmth of summer deep inside me all year long, whether it's June or January.

Summer isn't a season, but a way of living.

Let's make it summer all year long, shall we?

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