Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Fun Dos and Don'ts

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and while it is a day to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country, it also serves as the unofficial start of summer.  Now that everyone most likely attended their first cookout or summer party, I thought it would be a good time to talk about some "Dos & Don'ts" for the summer season.

DO: Keep kids hydrated.  It is very easy to forget to give the kids a drink, especially when they are swimming in a giant pool of water.  But the body hydrates from what is taken in, not what it is splashing in, so make sure to take regular breaks to let them get some juice or water.

DON'T: Give kids wine coolers.  It seems obvious, but most alcoholic beverages, especially wine coolers, have flashy packaging that is particularly interesting to children.  Plus, kids are very quick to pick up any cup if they are thirsty, so raise your glasses, and keep them there!  Keep your cups, beer cans/bottles, and wine coolers out of children's reach.

DO: Plant a vegetable or flower garden.  This is a great activity for kids.  If you choose a veggie garden, pick hearty plants that are easy to grow.  Tomatoes and green peppers work very well here in the mid-Atlantic region.  You can teach them how to care for a living thing as well as show them where food comes from.  They'll love getting dirty, and usually won't mind pulling weeds if you make a game out of it.

DON'T: Use pesticides/herbicides.  Whether on the garden you just planted or on the lawn that they're going to be rolling around on later, try to avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides.  I understand that sometimes there are no other options, but most of the time, there is an alternative.  You can cover your veggies with a permeable cloth until they are large enough to withstand a bug attack.  You can also plant companion plants like marigolds and onions to keep other creepy crawlies away.  If you want a weed free lawn, you can always pick the weeds out.  You could probably use the exercise anyway, right?

DO:  Use sunscreen.  Our little girl has very fair skin, so we use an SPF 70, and it works great!  She was outside all day yesterday, and we only made two major applications with a few touchups here and there.

DON'T:  Keep kids inside.  Unless it's a Code Red Heat Advisory or an Ozone Action Day, kids should have some time outside each day. The body uses sunshine to create essential vitamins your child cannot get when they are stuck inside.  Make sure they get at least 30-60 minutes outside when it is safe.

DO: Try new foods!  Cookout season is filled with lots of different types of foods that aren't eaten every day. Salads, meats, and fruits are abundant, so let your child try lots of new things and don't worry if they don't like it at first.  Let them acquire new tastes gently, and never force your child to eat something they don't like.  It only makes it worse!  Sometimes a child will need to taste something up to 10 times before they like it.

DON'T: Eat undercooked/overexposed food.  Check that meat coming off the grill.  Don't be afraid to microwave it for a minute or two to make sure it is done.  How long has that macaroni salad been sitting out? Be conscious of these things.  Nobody wants to spend a holiday in the ER with food poisoining.

DO: Take kids to see parades and fireworks.  This is one of my favorite childhood memories.  If they get scared of the loud noises, show them that it is okay, and don't feed into their fears.  Children take a lot of cues from you, mom and dad, so comfort, don't startle.

DON'T:  Let your kids play with fireworks.  How many times do I have to say it?  It's all fun a games until someone loses an eye!  Just be smart here people.

DO:  Get a kiddie pool!  Inflatable kiddie pools are great fun, and they usually last the whole summer.  You don't have to spend big bucks either.  Sometimes you can catch season ending clearance sales to shop for next year's pool.  My wife found a huge inflatable pool with palm trees and dragons for $8 last year.

DON'T:  Let your kid drink the water in the kiddie pool.  Another kid probably already peed in it.  See the top of this list for an alternative.

Thanks everyone, have a great summer!


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