Summer is a time for relaxing, hanging out with family and enjoying the fact that you probably won’t have to listen to a large group of third-graders play the recorder in a crowded, sweltering auditorium for at least a couple more months.
For moms, however, it’s also a time for freaking the freak out because the kids are now home 24 hours a day with issues you’re supposed to take care of, messes you’re supposed to clean and first world problems you should probably at least pretend to care about. We’re here for you, though; recapture some of your time and sanity with these summer hacks designed to make a mom’s life a little bit easier…
1. Brush off bites. Face it, they’re probably not going to brush their teeth again until September anyway, so put that toothpaste to good use by dabbing in onto itchy bug bites and letting it dry. People say it works because most toothpaste contains eucalyptus oil, but who cares why it works as long as we don’t have to say, “If you keep scratching that you’re gonna get a scar!” for the ten thousandth time?
2. Play it cool in the pool. So, the kids finally convinced you to get in the water, and now they want you to get back out for drinks? Aww, hell no. Get yourself a plastic tub, cut pool noodles into four sections the length of each side of the tub, and use rope to thread the pool noodles together into a rectangle. The plastic tub should fit right in there, with the lip resting on the pool noodles — fill it with ice and drinks and you have yourself a floating bar! Er, I mean, a floating kid-friendly cooler.
3. Make the playpen more perfect. Taking the baby outside to join you for a little gardening and/or listening to your older kids scream about the worms you find while gardening? Add some shelter from the buzzing bugs — not to mention a little extra shade — by fastening a fitted sheet over the top of the playpen.
4. Don’t feel the burn. Of course we never forget to reapply sunscreen every 30 seconds like the bottle demands, nor would we ever miss a spot on the top of their ears (yeah, right), but if somehow your child ends up a teeny bit lobster-ish from the sun anyway, try using aloe cubes on the burn. Just squirt 100% aloe vera gel straight into an ice cube tray (preferably not the one you use for your margarita ice) and freeze. The aloe is great for the burn, and the cold makes it extra soothing — for your kid, and for your slightly guilty conscience.
5. Beat the bugs. I don’t know about you, but I already give my kids enough chemicals in their nuggets and Hawaiian Punch — sometimes I’d like to draw the line at coating them head to toe in DEET all summer long. Instead, you can poke about 10-15 cloves into each half of a cut lime for a natural bug repellant that’s admittedly probably a lot less effective than DEET, but also a lot less poisonous. If you have an outdoor fire going, you could also toss a bundle of dried sage into your fire pit to help keep bugs at bay (and to make your yard smell vaguely like my kitchen right before I set off the smoke alarm).
6. Make hydration handy. Kids (and moms, for that matter) are a lot more likely to grab a drink on the go if they know it isn’t going to be all nasty and room temperature in ten minutes. Fix that by filling a water bottle about a quarter of the way full and resting it in its side in the freezer, for a water bottle that keeps its cool. Just make sure the water doesn’t cover the neck of the bottle, or it’ll freeze over the opening you won’t be able to pour your drink in until it’s all nasty and room temperature again.
7. Stay drip dry. Summer isn’t complete without popsicles, and popsicles aren’t complete until they’ve melted down your kid’s arm and stained half her entire wardrobe. Poke the stick through the bottom of a cupcake liner to catch drips before they accidentally tie dye your kid’s shirt. Alternatively, you could use a plastic coffee cup lid and jab the popsicle stick through the little drink hole, but then we might have to go to Starbucks AND I KNOW WE WOULD ALL HATE THAT.
8. Let summer sparkle. Sometimes I’m amazed that sparkler manufacturers manage to stay in business, since half the time kids are too terrified to touch them and the other half of the time their moms are the terrified ones. Take the fear out of the Fourth of July by poking the handle end of a sparkler through the bottom of a plastic cup; a kid can grab the handle with their hand inside the cup, safe from the menace of spewing sparkles.
9. Party until you pop. If you’re entertaining (or entertaining your kids’ friends) keep drinks cool without getting waterlogged by filling the cooler with frozen water balloons instead of ice. At the end of the day when the ice inside has melted, your kids will be ready to take care of cooler cleanup — assuming all they have to do is have a water balloon fight and not actually clean anything.