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Why Keri Russell is very grateful for The Americans changing her life

When Keri Russell started on The Americans in 2013, she had no idea how much it would change her entire life.

“It’s all been good change, and I’m very, very grateful for it,” the actress, 41, says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. Of course, she’s referring not only to her success in the Emmy-nominated role but also to gaining a partner in costar Matthew Rhys, 42, with whom she has a son, Sam, 1. (She’s also mom to River, 10, and Willa, 5, from her previous marriage.) “It’s been a wild, crazy run of a show.”

And the show that brought her a new love, a new child and a new outlook on life — “this summer feels like the Summer of Yes!” she says of her overall optimistic attitude — is wrapping up soon. She will start shooting the sixth and final season in October.

“It will be sad, but it feels kind of right too,” says Russell of The Americans ending after next season. “The hardest thing would be watching something that is so creative and well thought out to become played out. It feels like the right time to get out while it’s good, and I feel like they have a real solid last season of storylines. I feel like it’s the right time.”

She’ll also miss working alongside Rhys. “That brings its own complications — as anyone who works with a partner experiences — but I think I’ll miss it, too. There’s something so great about having someone so close for funny moments or really hard moments or really mundane moments, like ‘Can you pick up laundry soap on your way home because we’re out?’ or ‘We’re out of milk.’ ”

So, before returning to film the show’s final season this fall, Russell is taking the summer to “rest and be with my kids, so I can go back and be awake and present for the last few episodes of the show,” she says. “It’s been life-changing to me in many, many ways that show, and I just want to enjoy it. I want to really relish those last few moments of it.”

That means her summer is filled with date nights with Rhys, which “usually involve riding our bikes and cold beer,” short trips upstate and to the Hamptons (she recently journeyed to the summer enclave to host a dinner with Saks Fifth Avenue), as well as a two-week trip to Wales to visit Rhys’ family “and introduce the baby around.” Especially because he’s growing so quickly: “He’s like a no-neck rugby player,” says Russell (Rhys is a notorious fan of the sport). “He’s like a tank!”

Other than that, “we’re just hanging around, enjoying summer in the city,” she says. “We’re mellow. We really love our home in Brooklyn, even when it’s hot and sweaty.”