This summer, I commit to enjoying these with my family:

Fresh fruits and veggies from the garden and farmer’s market.

Picnics and BBQ’s.

Drinking plenty of water.

Plenty of exercise and play in the fresh air and sunshine.

Completing the summer homework packet from school.

Summer reading and museum visits.

Waterparks and parades.

Bubbles, sparklers and shooting stars.

Sleeping in.

This summer I will be okay with:

Occasional McDonald’s, giant ice cream cones, and a few too many popsicles.

Lunchables and leftovers.

Enjoying a few sodas (and adult drinks too).

More days than I wish of flopping on the couch and watching movies.

And iPads and total vegging.

Emergency Target trips for forgotten items.

And when reality hits, I realize we might:

Eat hot dogs and chicken nuggets three days a week.

Drink loads of juice, and never enough water.

Get sunburned, hand foot and mouth, and that summer tummy bug.

Not choose the battles to do homework in the summer after the first three weeks.

Be exhausted and bickering after the first week of trying to be perfect.

Feel more like a referee than a social director.

But at the end of the day I will remember:

That making memories can’t be forced, and the things my kids will talk about at Thanksgiving in 20 years won’t be the things I strive for anyway.

My kids will be healthy even if they eat fewer fresh fruits and veggies and more soda and hot dogs than I’d like.

Some days will be filled with fresh air, sunshine and play, and some will be filled with too much screen time, but getting a decent balance is what matters.

There will be bickering, forgotten items and frustration, but we don’t have to let that stop us from having fun.

It will look like everyone on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram is doing better at it than I am. I can choose to despair, or remember they might be only posting the good stuff.

Balance is what really matters. We don’t have to have it all, someone will always be better than us, but we’re doing pretty good, so I will just relax and enjoy it.

Alethea Mshar

Alethea Mshar is a mother of four children; an adult child who passed away of a drug overdose, one typical daughter and two sons who have Down syndrome, one of whom has autism spectrum disorder and complex medical needs. She has written "What Can I Do To Help", a guide to stepping into the gap when someone you know has a child diagnosed with cancer, which is available on Amazon, and is publishing a memoir titled, "Hope Deferred". She can be found on Twitter as leemshar, and blogs for The Mighty HuffPost as Alethea Mshar, as well as her own blog, Ben's Writing Running Mom on She is also on Facebook as Alethea Mshar, The Writing, Running Mom.