Summer is a time of joy, littered with freedom, excitement, and distant family members trying to suck away every weekend from now until Labor Day. (Honestly, how did my entire summer disappear before Memorial Day?)
Summer vacation is a much needed break from routine, for both children and parents. Make the season of sun extra-special by putting an emphasis on raising backyard kids- children who see their backyard as an extension of home, a place of wonder and joy, and a space filled with never-ending entertainment.
1) Sunscreen. If there's one thing your kid needs, it's sunscreen. Put it on them. Just do it. I don't care what color your kid's skin is. PUT. IT. ON. 30+ SPF. I like Babyganics because it's mineral based (ie safe for infants over 6 months), easy to spread, and not so greasy.
2) Water, water, everywhere. In every form: liquid - solid - gas. Balloons. Pools. Sprinklers. Squirt guns. Add some dirt and hang in the mud. Pigs got it going on- mud is cool, squishy, and fun. Let your kids get ridiculously dirty, snap a picture, and then hose them down. The hippie side of me highly recommends this. There is nothing more cathartic than going all Billy Madison and spraying your spawn down with a garden hose.
What do you do with wet bathing suits and towels? Here at The Everyday Green, we have you covered! Get your hands on one of our wet bags- the ultimate summer accessory!
Water- the life giving force that keeps the littles entertained and moms happy.
Need a game idea? Here's one my siblings and I made up when we were kids. One person, "it," stands with the hose (Full force preferable). The goal of this game is to be "it," as it comes with the ultimate power. In order to become "it", you must tag the person holding the hose without getting sprayed. If you do get sprayed, you have to go back beyond the stream of the hose and start again. Advice: you ALWAYS want to start as "it." As the parent, it's your God-given right.
3) Wide brimmed Bucket Hats. This is really a no brainer- the sun has some harsh rays. Get a hat that looks cute and, more importantly, has a wide enough brim to cover the ears and the neck (note- baseball hats just don't cut it here- don't let your little Albus end up like my grandfather, scraping growths off his ears and neck because they're growing squamous cells like it's going out of style). Skin cancer is no joke, and the prevention really starts from day one.
Crabby, cute, and not sunburnt.
4) Get those toys ORGANIZED! Nothing is more annoying than a backyard full of crap. If you're not annoyed by it, the person mowing your lawn is. Mesh pool bags hold all kinds of little annoying things your kids want/need in the pool, like ring toss, squirt guns, and water balloons. You can even use them in the bathtub (...because that area is never littered with toys *wink-wink*). I recommend Designing Elementary's mesh bags, because they are as cute as hell and sturdy AF. Get one here.
The best part is you will leave all that sand at the beach.
5) Newsflash: kids lose stuff. Frequently. When I worked at an elementary school, you should have SEEN the lost and found. It was like a gold mine. I seriously considered doing my Christmas shopping for my nieces and nephews there, because that stuff would sit all year. I didn't, because I have ethics, but it was very tempting.
This is why I highly recommend putting their names on ev-er-y-th-i-ng. Embroidered names are even better, because that shit stays. Doesn't wear off, rub off, or fall off. Save your stuff from the lost and found and get a fantastically fluffy beach towel here, with personalization, for a very reasonable price. Your camp counselors will thank you, your wallet will thank you, and your kid will be held more accountable.
If that kid Danny tries to swipe her fluffy towel, everyone will know it. Even Danny.
6) Kids should be playing outside all day, no matter the weather. Okay okay... maybe not ALL day during that hurricane, but you know what I mean. Slather on the sunscreen, get a good layer of bug spray, and send them on their way.
7) Like Marie Antoinette to cake, let them have fireworks. Before you freak out, KEEP READING. I'm not suggesting you give your kids fireworks- that's irresponsible and just plain dumb. Instead, I'm suggesting that you TAKE THEM to fireworks.
Give your little ones some ear protection, let them stay up late, paint their faces, dress the baby festively (like with this onesie), eat cotton candy, and watch the magic happen.
8) Glow sticks. At the fireworks, your kids are going to want to make their own magic. Like I said before, don't give them fireworks (that's the yuppie in me speaking here). So give them glow sticks attached to a string. Let them whirl, and twirl, and feel like part of the show. The added bonus is this will keep them occupied while waiting for the fireworks to start. Win squared.
Does anyone else hear "Sandstorm" in their heads whenever they see a glowstick? #classof2000
9) Bug Spray. Here in the northeast, we have a veritable potpourri of mosquito borne illnesses you can die from (collect all 3). EEE, West nile, Sika. And if the mosquitos don't get you, the ticks. This year is proving to be the worst year for ticks I have ever seen, and I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire. I've had Lyme's disease, my kids have been tested already this year, and my dog has had it.
Trust me- limes are much better in a post-bedtime gin and tonic.
Don't risk it. Spray your kids and yourself with something effective. You can scrub it off later with some cookies. Spray with DEET is best, like OFF Family, but if you have young children, I really like Repel Lemon and Eucalyptus spray.
If you do get bites, Benadryl cream and hydrocortisone cream works wonders to keep the itch at bay. It's THE best.
Even as a silhouette, these buggers are nasty.
10) S'mores. Honestly- you can't have an outdoor summer evening without them, and think of yourself as even remotely successful at life. Grab some chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers, get sticky, and call it a night to remember.
Hope you were able to pull a good thing out of this article. What else do you find essential for outside fun with the kiddos? Aside from a lock on the door.....