Teach your child to apply sunscreen, It makes them feel responsible and in charge of themselves. Introduce them to the joy of homemade popsicles (free from added sugar!), seasonal fruits and veggies that can replace the unhealthy foods. Encourage them to take regular water breaks (ideally, every half an hour) to avoid dehydration. Cultivate a healthy sleep routine.
Rather than spending your summer chasing your kids with a bottle of sunscreen, take this season to teach your kids necessary self-care habits and spend your time supervising instead. Here are a few things your kids should be able to do to keep themselves safe.
1. Applying And Reapplying Sunscreen
Of course, learning exactly how to reach all the areas that require coverage can take time, but teaching your children to apply their own sunscreen can be a very beneficial task. Not only will it save you time in the long run, but kids enjoy feeling responsible and in charge of themselves. Emphasize the importance of sun protection or even make a game out of the application process.
You should also remind them to reapply the sunscreen every two hours or so. Always monitor their sunscreen application and step in for those hard to reach places but try to take a step back and let them take charge of their own protection.
2. Consistent Hydration
Minor dehydration is a very common experience in the summer, even for adults. Kids should be taking water breaks every half hour, and avoiding any sugary water substitutes like Gatorade. To make rehydrating more exciting, let your child pick out a fun water bottle to keep with them as they play. Remind them to take a drink periodically and watch it become a healthy habit as the summer progresses.
3. Beneficial Sleep Schedules
With the summer break, kids may resist maintaining a normal sleep schedule. The days are longer and there isn’t a reason for them to get up early, so staying up late may seem like no big deal. However, sticking to a normal sleep routine is important as a lack of sleep can lead to a number of detrimental side effects.
To encourage a healthy sleep schedule, cultivate a nightly routine in your kids. A consistent series of activities will eventually signal the brain when it is time to sleep, prompting faster and higher quality sleep. For example, turn all screens off an hour before bed and replace them with a book or coloring project. Forty-five minutes before bed, offer a cup of melatonin-rich tart cherry juice. Twenty minutes before bed, have your kids change into pajamas. With ten minutes to go, have everyone brush their teeth. Finally, by the time they actually get into their beds, they will be fully prepared to sleep quickly and well.
4. Quality Nutrition
Summer is too often associated with sugary snacks like popsicles, ice cream, soda, and a number of other unhealthy items. Instead of teaching your kids that summer brings unhealthy foods, offer special summer alternatives. If an item is only available in the summer, even if it is healthy, kids will be excited they have access to that item.
For example, have your kids help you freeze homemade popsicles, free from added sugar and preservatives. You might also make things like avocado ice cream, healthy breakfast muffins, or offer seasonal fruits. Teach your kids to crave healthy summer foods instead.
Keeping your kids happy, healthy, and safe in the summer can certainly seem challenging at times. With no school to keep them busy, they can sometimes run wild, unintentionally putting themselves at risk for injury or ailments. However, if you take a summer to teach your kids how to keep themselves healthy, your stress levels are bound to go down. Kids who are taught to be well early on are for more likely to grow up healthy, well-rounded adults. Spend a summer cultivating healthy habits in your children and prepare to be amazed the summer after.
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life.