I know this will sound a little crazy, but one of the things I missed about Texas the most while living in Oregon was “real” Texas summers. In my opinion, it’s not really summer until it’s hit triple digits and you can bake cookies on the dash of your car. One of the things I was most excited about in moving back to Texas in June was that Isla would get to experience her first Texas summer.
So far, Isla has had a great summer in Texas, filled with trips to the park, playing fetch with the dog in the backyard, and lots and lots of time in the pool. However, between the heat and the Texas-sized critters, we’ve had to take a few extra precautions this summer to stay safe and cool. Below I’ve shared some tips and some of my favorite products for having a great summer.
1. Canopy or Gazebo
Our backyard has an uncovered patio and no trees, so the first thing we needed to do was create some shade. We put this durable, affordable, and easy to use Ozark Trail canopy up over our patio to create a sweet little shady spot where we could relax and run our BBQ while Isla plays. This would also be great to put over a kiddie pool if you have older kids who will be outside swimming for longer periods of time.
2. Mosquito Protection
Mosquitoes are a big problem in Texas. When I was a kid, we didn’t think much of it, and my brother and I would count our mosquito bites at night and whoever had the most would win. With West Nile Virus running rampant these days, though, I no longer associate tons of mosquito bites with victory, so keeping the skeeters away is very important. I don’t trust Isla yet not to get bug spray in her eyes or mouth, so we’ve gone with Off Lanterns, which you can hang around your patio or pool to keep the bugs away. Of course, the best way to avoid mosquitoes is to stay inside around dusk, when mosquitoes are thickest.
We wanted some quick and easy lawn chairs where we could sit and keep an eye on our busy kiddo. We love these Texsport Bazaar Armchairs. They’re easy to pop open and very portable, making them great to take camping, to outdoor concerts and to BBQs at other people’s homes. The cupholder is also great for our ever-present water bottles.
No summer is complete without a swimming pool. For our little one, we got this fantastic pool from Intex, which inflates and sprays water from the whale’s spout. I like it because it’s shallow, easy for Isla to get into and out of, easy to clean and store (just drain and deflate!), and because the spray does a great job of keeping Isla cool.
When I was a teenager, my mother had melanoma removed from her skin, and since then, I’ve been a big believer in keeping skin safe and healthy. If you spend much time outside, you really should be wearing sunscreen, and for little ones, you want to find a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 and that preferably is sting-free, so if they rub it in their eyes, it won’t hurt them. There are a ton of options out there. I’ve shared Seventh Generation’s Baby Sunscreen, but really, any sunscreen with adequate SPF will do!
2. Rash Guard Swim Suit
I prefer rash guards to regular swim suits for one simple reason: they cover more skin. This has nothing to do with modesty for. It has to do with protecting your skin from the sun. This goes double for children. It seems like these are much more readily available now than when I was a kid. Here I’ve shared girls and boys rash guard swimsuits by Osh Kosh.
3. Sun Hat
Again, keep your kiddos covered! Sun hats are a great way to keep the sun off of your children’s delicate scalps, ears, and faces. We have a hard time keeping Isla in her sun hat, but have had pretty good luck with REI’s casual hats thanks to their chin straps. When the sun hat fails, we go straight to rubbing sunscreen into Isla’s hair.
4. Swim Diapers
Swim diapers are especially important if you have multiple children or go to a public pool. Despite the chemicals used to limit bacteria, the truth is that swimming pools are a great way to transmit nasty things like stomach viruses. To limit their spread, and for general hygiene, use a good swim diaper that keeps your baby or toddler’s bodily fluids firmly locked in. Whether you choose cloth or disposables, a swim diaper is vital for safe swimming.
Your kids should always be drinking water, but when it gets hot outside, it becomes even more important. Always have water with you when you’re outside in the summer, and encourage your kid to take drinks frequently. Here I’ve shared some fun Nuby straw cups, which are easy to carry with you and offer to your kids no matter where you are.
6. Swim Towel
Okay, so a cute swim towel isn’t vitally necessary–a plain old bath towel will do–but couldn’t everyone use a little more adorable in their life? I really loved this Stephen Joseph hooded shark towel.
One last thing I want to mention is that all parents should be aware of the signs of heat stroke in children. Our little ones can’t always tell us when something’s wrong, so it’s important that we are paying attention to any odd behavior and are familiar with signs of potential trouble. To avoid heat stroke, make sure kids are dressed in light, loose clothing, take lots of breaks from playing to relax and drink water, and limit the amount of time they are exposed to extreme heat. Don’t leave them in an unairconditioned car, for instance, where it can reach in excess of 130 degrees on a hot day!
I hope you found this helpful, and I especially hope you have a safe and fun summer!