5 Summer Safety Tips Every Parent Should Know

YAY!  It's finally here... Summer! The warm, beautiful weather, outdoor activities and family fun are plentiful this time of year. Unfortunately, so are the opportunities for sunburns, heat rashes, bug bites, water dangers and many more summer activity hazards. Below are five important summer safety tips to help ensure a super spectacular summer!

Why yes, that is Ollie and Professor "The Bloody Cat" playing at the beach!
1. Avoid sunburns like the plague: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting one blistering sunburn when you are a kid doubles your chances of developing melanoma. It goes without saying the best way to avoid a sunburn is to avoid the sun, but during the warm summer months that is near impossible, so always apply at least an SPF 15 sunscreen to exposed skin 30 minutes before exposure. Also, whenever possible try to provide shade for your child in the form of umbrellas, loose clothing, long-sleeves, light pants and wide-brimmed hats.

For children under 6 months old, consult your physician before using any sunscreen. For children over 6 months old, but under 2 years old, visit The Environmental Working Group’s website (EWG.org) for an extensive list of safe sunscreens for sensitive skin.  (To read my complete post on the BEST and WORST sunscreens for the little ones Click Here.)

*If sunburn occurs and your child starts to feel ill, consult your pediatrician – seek immediate medical attention if your little one’s temperature reaches 105f.

2. Swim Smart- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 800 children drown every year. That number is scary and beyond heartbreaking. For that reason, when around any body of water with young children and poor swimmers, stay within arm's reach.

Here are a few top tips from the Red Cross on pool/water safety-
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. 
  • Do not trust a child’s life to another child 
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
    This is what I have Ollie in this Summer--They are called Puddle Jumpers.
  • Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. 
  •  Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water!
  • If you are around water and your child is missing ALWAYS check the water first. Seconds count. 
* Secondary drowning occurs after a child has struggled in the water. It is rare and accounts for only 1-2% of drowning cases, but still be aware that if your child has struggled in the water, and swallowed water. As a result, secondary drowning is possible. Look for these warning signs:
  • Trouble Breathing, chest pain, or a cough
  • A sudden change in behavior 
  • Extreme Fatigue
The bottom line is that you know your child, after a near drowning incident or a long day of swimming,  Be aware of any sudden changes from the norm.

3. Stings and Bites-With lovely warm weather comes evil pesky bugs. Unfortunately, bright colors and floral prints (summer colors!) attract bees and wasps, as do those sweet sticky faces and hands. If you are going to a park or area that you know will have a high concentration of bugs, bees, and wasps, stick to clothing with muted light solid colors.

If your child is stung, don't pull out the stinger with fingers or tweezers. Scrape gently with a credit card to push the stinger out in the direction in which it entered. Once the stinger is out, make a paste out of baking soda and water, or a 0.5 percent hydrocortisone cream can provide relief.

As for insect repellents… DEET can be toxic! Repellents with 10 to 30 percent concentrations of DEET can be used on exposed skin, clothing and shoes but do not apply it too little faces or hands. If you want to avoid DEET, the (CDC) recommends repellents that are made up with picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, both are non-toxic and work just as well as formulas with low levels of DEET.

*The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC recommend that for children older than 2 months of age use 10% to 30% DEET. DEET should never be used on children younger than 2 months of age.

*Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied.

We LOVE and use the Honest Company All Natural Bug Spray and their sunblock stick for squirmy little faces...

4. Over Heating/dehydration/and heat rashes- The key to avoiding overheating is to stay hydrated. Always have cool drinks, preferably water or sports drinks readily available to your children. Never wait for your child to tell you he is thirsty. According to the AAP, your child is already dehydrated when he asks for something to drink, so offer lots of fluids both before going outside and once your child is outside playing.   

* Hot, humid weather can lead to blocked sweat glands that lead to nasty rashes in the folds of your child’s skin. If this occurs, place your child in a cool, soapless bath.  Dry him completely then apply cornstarch powder to the rash, and avoid unnecessary clothing.  The rash should clear up in two to three days.

5. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN THE CAR FOR A MINUTE! Next time you are alone in your car, turn it off and count to 60 - Not very comfortable is it?  Within one minute your car can increase by ten degrees Fahrenheit!  TEN! Under no circumstance should your child be left in a car. 

*Even the very best parents and caregivers have been known to forget about a sleeping child in the backseat. A good rule of thumb is to keep a small stuffed animal in the car, and every time you get in place the small stuffed animal in your lap to remind you that your child is in the car. Or place your purse/laptop bag in the backseat with your child, so you have to get in the backseat before leaving your car. (Thanks for the tip, Mel!) This is especially useful in the mornings.  This may save your child’s life.  

If you have any experiences or tips that you would like to share...please leave a comment below.  Have a happy and safe summer!

And last, a bonus, and something near to my heart, proper eye care during the summer season, and all year long... you don't want crows feet right?  The following infographic will blow your mind!



10 Ways To Give Dad The Perfect Father's Day According To An Actual Dad

Remember my fabulous post, Attention Kids and Dads: 10 Things Mom REALLY  Wants For Mother's Day? Naturally, First Time Dad thinks there should be a "10 Things DAD REALLY Wants For Father's Day" post. So, here it is, 10 Things DAD REALLY Wants For Father's Day... according to my partner in Parenting crime, the rediculous Aussie.

Okay then...here we go again! Catalogues packed into the mail-box advertising drills, grills and garage skills!  YES - “Father’s day” is just around the corner.  The time when manhood is celebrated in all its glory. If you’ve popped out a kid or two (or three, or four or more - whatever) you’ve automatically been inducted into the club.  The day once a year where somehow you’ve become worthy of a gift or two, your favorite meal and the possibility of sucking down a relaxing six-pack of beer without being yelled at for not mowing the grass.

Ladies...I know you’re scrabbling about now trying to find the perfect gift that magically summarises how awesome your husband is, has-been and will ever be, BUT I’m gonna tell you what we REALLY want so pay attention!

Firstly! What we DON’T want:

No bloody Groupons for a relaxing massage in a quaint day spa that smells like mint.
NO generic 40 piece tool kits from K-mart
No five-packs of business socks
Absolutely no magazine subscriptions for fishing, golf or recreational boating.

Ok then? Done! That was easy, wasn’t it?

Now...follow closely...here are the top ten things in timeline order that will guarantee a magnificent father's day for your lucky man.

  1. Let him sleep in past 6:30am - No cuddling, no TV blaring in the background, no kids bouncing on his head, no whispered reminders that the garbage bin has to go out.  Just peace and bloody quiet!

  2. A MASSIVE bacon n egg breakfast! No cherry tomatoes or sprigs of organic Mediterranean parsley.  We want a POUND of crispy bacon, 5 eggs, cheese, a gob of mayonnaise, buttery toast and a shit-load of salt n pepper with a big mug of cheap coffee (just like the ‘ole days!)
  3. Allow him to evacuate the bowels in peace. Keep the kids from banging on the door, don’t be tempted to yell out that his clothes are on the floor next to the laundry bin, NO stomping around outside the toilet door huffing and puffing about the oil spots in the driveway! Give yer man some quality time to ‘snap out a bad-boy’ and finish that candy crush level that he’s been stuck on for 3 months.

  4. Don’t tell him what to wear to Aunt Sally's brunch! Seriously, we don’t care in the slightest that blue and green don’t match. What does it matter that he wore the same shirt yesterday? And let the poor bugger wear sandals with socks!!! Geez!
  5. Fend off all calls from relatives (mother, mother-in-law, sisters) who want to ‘wish him a happy fathers day,’ but really want to gossip to YOU about their lazy husband and the oil spots in the driveway and clothes left on the floor near the laundry bin.
  6. Hand him the keys to the car and say “off you go honey.”  He may be slightly disorientated without a ‘request’ to pick up the dry-cleaning, milk or diapers, but the hint of freedom will be all he needs to race off to his store of choice for some quality man-shopping! Don’t discourage the poor bugger when he returns home with a couple of huge Walmart bags full of awesomeness.
  7. Stock the fridge with his favorite beer. AND for the love of God, PLEASE place it in a prominent place where he doesn’t have to rustle through bags of broccoli, quinoa and fruit salad in an oversized container (that, let's be honest here, no-one ever eats...or if they do venture inside the mystery bowl, they just eat the grapes).   
  8. Crack open a nice cold beer and hand it over WITHOUT the standard comment about carbohydrates. Sit him on the couch and load up the original Schwarzenegger version of ‘Conan the Barbarian.’ Pump up the barely-used-since-the-kids-came-along 5.1 stereos and listen to him recite EVERY line with a thick Austrian accent.
  9. Have a massive family-friendly all-in juicy dirty barbecue with overcooked sausages, greasy burgers, a couple of prawns, crappy potato salad, cheap-ass white buns with seeds, and don’t forget the riotous 80’s music! Leave the ketchup, mayo, macaroni salad and margarine on a table WITH THE LIDS OFF. Under NO circumstances should you even DARE try to sneak an “apricot marinated chicken fillet” or an assortment of fresh vegetables onto that grill!

  10. When the beer has run dry, and the night is winding down, don’t forget to give him a hefty slap on the arse and take a moment to remind yourself why you fell in love with him in the first place! And whatever you do, don't ruin the awesome man-day with nagging that the garbage bin STILL has to go out...there’s STILL oil in the driveway and his clothes aren’t going to pick themselves up.

Happy Fathers Day!


Summer Survival Guide For Stay-at-Home Parents

Being that this is my sixth summer home with an active wild-child, I do have a few tricks for surviving summer. First and foremost, if nothing else, I have to lower my expectations.

To, well, nothing. Nada. Zilch.

As in, making grand plans for an active summer filled with Mary-Poppins-style frolics in the park and picnics under the tree reading classics, is so far past redonkulous I should've had my head checked the first summer I believed I could pull it off. Not-to-mention, the two following.

If you're already asking yourself, How in the hell am I going to survive the summer with this wild-child at my feet, then keep reading, I've kind of figured it out.

1. Get over yourself.

The first rule of being a Stay-at-Home Parent (SAHP) understands that you CANNOT do it all. Seriously, let it go. I remember when my son started disappearing from the spot I left him in. That's when life changed. Once he started being mobile, my ENTIRE day was spent keeping him safe and contained. THINK: I was home all day and could not get ONE load of laundry finished.

Eventually, I learned I'm not a superhero. So being a boss mom, wife, domestic diva and writer all on the same day is crazy hard and should be avoided at all costs. I half-ass so much, I have to go back and do it again. So, rather than stress out about doing it all, I do what can, and I'm happy with that. While humans are pretty fu*king amazing, there are limits. 

2. Create a safe place

For parents of super littles (0-3yrs), Create a Safe Place.
Create a place in your home where you can leave your child for a few minutes and walk away.  When Oliver was a baby, it was his crib, then eventually his pack-n-play in front of the TV or window, and now, the iPad. (That’s right I let my kid watch TV before 2 years old. Judge me. I don’t care!)   Tip: No Pack-n-play? The highchair with a snack is a good spot.

I LOVE this photo... it's a 10-month old Ollie!

Again, this is a 10-15 minute fix. Not a babysitter! 

For the Big Kids (4+), I've found a task making up a task for him to do in his room is great for buying a few quiet minutes, or more! I will have him sort toys or read a few books, give me a book report and earn a treat. Or color and try to stay inside the lines. Anything I can think of, I go with it.

The point of the 'safe place' is so YOU BOTH can have a time-out, whenever. The minute you are going to lose your shit, and it happens to the best of us when a child is attached 24/7, you both go to your respective safe place. We all need a break, and the safe place makes it happen.

3. Play with your Child(ren), don’t just go through the motions.

One of the biggest issues with being a SAHP is getting things done. It's nearly impossible when you're answering four hundred, 'Why?' Questions, cleaning up crumbs and spills and digging toys out of the dog's mouth.  I can get so caught up in my things, I forget there's this little guy looking for a playmate. And a good playmate, not a mommy preoccupied in thought, only sort of playing.

I've found if I mentally prepare myself for playing with my son, "for the next five-ten minutes", I can relax enough to play wholeheartedly and appreciate every minute. We both have way more fun, I get up feeling like a good mom, and my son is happy to resume his solo play. It makes SUCH a difference. 

4. Get out of the House! 

The minute I get cabin fever, I pack up Ollie, and we go on an adventure. I have to. If I don’t break up the day, I go crazy. Sometimes, we walk to the park, or go to the zoo, or go on a bug, leaf and sick finding adventure in the backyard. It's great because it doesn't take much before he's off making up a new game or adventure. Or just go for a drive in the car. Break up the day when possible!

TIP: Look on websites like Plum District or Groupon for local deals on places for children.  I learn about children’s places I didn’t even know existed through those sites. You could also join a mommy’s group or baby and me Yoga or sign up for swimming lessons!

5. This Too Shall Pass

No doubt, it's a blessing to get to be home with your child, even if sometimes it feels like a punishment from the land of Karma. You'll never get these years back, so embrace them. When you think you are going to lose your mind, drop your bub in the safe place, take a few deep breaths, then go back and look at your beautiful child. Be thankful that you are there to share every milestone, first word, achievement and smile with him.  There are so many working moms and dads that would give anything to trade places with us SAHPS.

When you are feeling overwhelmed and even annoyed with being a SAHM or SAHD, remember this too shall pass, and when it does you will miss it very very very much.

Have a tip for being a Stay At Home Parent?  Please share!


The 2018 Guide To The Safest Sunscreens For Babies and Children

Each year, the Environmental Working Group examines hundreds of sunscreens. In 2018, 216 beach and sport sunscreens achieved a green rating in EWG’s 2018 Sunscreen Guide. These sunscreens received an overall score of 1, and a green rating for ingredient hazards. 

After narrowing down the field to the top 216, the EWG selected products unambiguously marketed for use on babies and children by including those with the terms “baby,” “kids,” “little,” and/or “children” in the product or brand name. Then filtered out products with ingredients that EWG considers particularly worrisome, like formaldehyde-releasing chemicals. 

In the end, only 23 sunscreens passed with the highest safety rating possible. They are as follows, in alphabetical order.
All Good Kid's Sunscreen, SPF 30
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Lotion Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 50
Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream, Tangerine & Vanilla, SPF 30
Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Baby, SPF 50
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Baby, SPF 30+
BurnOut Kids Sunscreen, SPF 35
California Baby Calendula Sunscreen, SPF 30+
COOLA Suncare Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50
Equate Baby Zinc Sunscreen Mineral Lotion, SPF 50
Goddess Garden Organics Kids Sport Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Hawaiian Sol Sol Kid Kare, SPF 50
Kiss My Face Organics Kids Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
MDSolarSciences KidCreme Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 40
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 50
Nurture My Body Baby Organic Sunscreen, SPF 32
Sunology Mineral Sunscreen, Kids, SPF 50
thinkbaby Sunscreen, SPF 50+
thinksport Kids Sunscreen, SPF 50+
Tom's of Maine Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
TruBaby Water & Play Sunscreen, SPF 30+
TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30
Waxhead Sun Defense Baby Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, SPF 35
FUN FACT: While U.S.Sunscreen standards are not as rigid as Europe, improvements are being made.
To read the entire EWG Sunscreen report to check on the Top Rated Beach and Sport Sunscreens or Safest Moisturizers with SPF, Click here.


Tips For Luxury Family Travel

A family vacation is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be exciting, and if you're really lucky, luxurious! Starting with the mode of transportation. Why drive, when you can fly? Roads can really be dangerous, especially in CA; BattaFulkerson.com points out: “…every time you drive on California’s busy highways, there is a chance of having an accident. While most do not cause serious injuries or fatalities, you can expect the damage to your car to be expensive. Even a fender-bender can result in high repair costs.”

The last thing any family vacation needs is a vehicular accident. What is becoming more popular today ais chartering flights to specific locales, and then using local transportation options upon arrival, like bikes, rickshaws, cabs, crowdsourced transportation, public transit, or plain old walking. In many island communities, all you really need are a pair of legs and the health to use them, and you’ve got total access to the entire island. Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean is like that.

There are many price-determining factors when booking a private charter. StratosJets.com points out: “For many, private travel is a pragmatic necessity. However, the choice often boils down to one simple question: How much is a private jet charter? Stratos offers two great purchase options to assist clients in procuring the air travel solutions that fit their needs and budget…”

Additionally, chartered flights can get you and your family into places that otherwise may not be easily reachable by commercial airlines and associated travel. This means you can truly “get away from it all” in a safe way which preserves vehicular stability and avoids unnecessary dangers silhouetting modern roadways.

Don't think you could even dream of affording a chartered flight? Think again, there are many ways these days to make money while you travel. You may even be able to underwrite the whole vacation. Of course, it all depends on your situation. Regardless, consider how to travel and to where, the cost offset for commercial flights, kennels, transportation and remote living... you never know, you may be flying your family chartered cheaper than commercial!