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Cultivating Connection: How to Prioritize Self Care as a Parent in the Summer 

By Jessica J. Canales,  M.Ed., LGPC 

We often fantasize about summer months being less busy and a time where we can connect more with our children. We dream of sun filled days with lots of relaxation that allow us to slow down and provide fun memories for our children. The reality is that while we may have these moments and days the summer months are often filled with overscheduled days, overtired children and over tired parents. In the midst of summer fun we forget to fill our own sand buckets while busily filling our childrens buckets full of sand. The answer may lie somewhere in our own childhood memories of summer. Memories that are filled with unlimited outside time, watermelon toothed grins, playing with friends, and overall living a more simplistic lifestyle. Below are tips self-care tips to reclaim childhood summer and fill your own sand bucket and in turn show up better for your children.

Three Tips to Fill Your Sand Bucket

  1. Spend time outdoors doing activities you enjoy
  2. Meet up with supportive friends
  3. Reduce over scheduled summer activities 

Spend time Outdoors Doing Activities You Enjoy

Childhood summers were filled with sun filled days and sun kissed skin, after having full days of outside time. The reason in the winter months we dream of warm days and yearn for that sun on our face, is that sun exposure is associated with mood boosting potential. Studies show that there is a link between the amount of sunlight we get and improved mental health. Sometimes as parents, we get so caught up in trying to meet the demands of our kids every whim we forget to meet our own needs. In between all of the summer fun activities, it is important to make it a priority to do activities that you like outdoors to reap more mental health benefits from sun exposure. Whether it’s reading your favorite book, cultivating your garden, taking a swim, going for a jog, or simply just sitting outside; take the time to soak in the sun and soak in that serotonin boost. 

Meet up with Supportive Friends

A pivotal part of our childhood summers was that connection and fun with friends. Studies show that social support helps to create resilience to stress, social support is essential to maintain overall mental health. Having a healthy strong support network that can provide advice, day to day assistance and emotional encouragement is key. The reality is that many of us do not have the time or make the time to cultivate friendships that can meet these needs. Making time this summer to meet up with your friends in between all of the summer activities needs to be a priority. Making time to connect with friends, will allow you to show up as a more regulated and attuned parent.

Reduce Over Scheduled Summer Activities 

The freedom of summer as a child was so invigorating and renewing. Something about the freedom of summer as parents, makes us overplan and overschedule activities that somehow leave us busier than the rest of the year. Having an overscheduled summer can sometimes have the opposite effect on not only us as parents, but also our children. Over scheduling often leads to over stimulation which can lead to feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. Reducing over scheduled summer activities and in turn slowing down and soaking up the moments we have with our children and loved ones is important in reducing overall stress. Instead of scheduling multiple events, schedule time to do nothing. Sit back, relax and enjoy that slice of watermelon as the sun shines around you. 


Parenting in the summertime is special, we have the opportunity to see our children grow and be their most authentic selves without the confines of the traditional school year. As a parent, it can be difficult to make time for our own needs, which can lead to burnout. Taking moments to get outside, spend time with friends, and just slow down are important in preventing burnout. To reclaim the summers of our childhood is more easily said than done. It takes mindfulness and reminders to ourselves to check in with how we are feeling and to remember to fill our own sand buckets while we are filling up our children’s sand buckets. 

Don’t forget to check out and join the upcoming Parenting Group!