When I think of my summers from my childhood, I immediately conjure up images of playing outside all day and chasing lightning bugs in the warm evening air.

But today as a parent, summertime presents new challenges in terms of simply caring for and entertaining our children, which can put additional stress on our day-to-day lives.

As a mother of two, I understand the societal and internal pressures we face, especially during summer months when our schedules and routines can be inconsistent. My mission, as a certified life coach and founder of Maternal Grove, is to support other maternal figures in their self discovery, growth and empowerment, so that they can find more space and balance for themselves in their everyday lives.

Often moms assume the majority of the responsibility of caring for your family and the household. In fact, Motherly's 2022 State of Motherhood survey found that 56% of moms say they handle the household chores and responsibilities themselves. Further, 70% moms say they manage and schedule their entire family's medical appointments and 61% cite they are the ones responsible for planning their children's activities. I don’t need to tell you how much work this all is. When our main focus is keeping control of everything (it's like keeping the train on the tracks), we are left with little room for flexibility, presence and fun. 

If you're looking to recapture feelings of being more carefree and present, here are three ways to shift your mindset to create less “oh no” and more “oh yes” moments this summer with your families:

Slow down

Time slips by so quickly when you are a parent. Like the old saying goes, “the days are long, but the years are short.” 

So often I talk to other moms who wish they had more opportunities for quality time with their kids. Well, here it is! Summer is the perfect time to slow down and give yourself a chance to embrace each moment you have with them. When appropriate, use this as an opportunity to redefine your schedule—or simply throw your schedule out the window.

Here is an example: Often-times we keep our kids out of the kitchen when we are cooking because, let’s be honest, it’s a much slower process when they are around. Instead, sit down with them to find a recipe they are excited about making, take them to the store to pick up the ingredients, and then cook together. This is quality time that can be shared with kids of all ages. As a bonus, all of the steps do not have to be done in one night! This can be three smaller opportunities for time together in one week. If dinner runs late when you have the little chefs in the kitchen, so be it. Maybe you skip bathtime or put them down a little late. The memories are the goal here, not staying on schedule. 

Shift your mindset 

We live in a highly productive, fast paced society with more distractions and pressures than we have ever had before. It’s easy to get stuck in the “I should be” and the “I have to's” to keep us “on track,” but this mindset can cause us to miss out on the fun of summertime. 

Recognize that this is a unique time without school constraints and extracurricular obligations. This will allow you a little more room for flexibility, presence, and fun.

Here is an example: Running late to camp can be frustrating. Instead of focusing on what happened leading up to you being late or what will happen when you get there, instead, focus on the present of being in the car together. Turn up your favorite song, dance and sing to instead make that car ride memorable for everyone.

Feel space and balance

Creating space and balance for yourself is not about waking up at 5am to walk in the warm summer air because that is what you think you should be doing.

New seasons offer an opportunity for self discovery and change. Self discovery can be exploring how to honor your flow and be flexible with what both you and your family need in the present. 

Here is an example: If you are feeling like the amount of juggling has increased, create a no-plan-night once a week to do whatever feels best for you and your family. 

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please email Collective@mother.ly.