After another long New England winter, it’s finally here.
The sun is up by 5:30 a.m., and it is still light at 8 p.m. Bostonians have finally traded in their boots and winter coats for sundresses and flip-flops. Summer is such a brief and beautiful time here in Boston, so every sun-filled day is one to be savored.
However, as with many wonderful things in life, summer can also pose some dangers, especially for the youngest Bostonians.
When I think back on summers as a kid, I remember lazy days by the pool, concerts in the park behind my grandparents’ house, jars of fireflies with carefully punctured lids. Time was unstructured and seemed to move slower than the rush of the school year. As a mom, this is how I want my son to experience summer. And yet, lately it seems like every news story or social media post about summer is filled with terrifying warnings about ticks, sun poisoning, dehydration, drowning… the list goes on and on. It is almost enough to make me want to hunker down in our apartment all summer (with the air conditioner on, of course).
Now let me be clear: The dangers are real. What I am suggesting is that we can create summer safety norms that seem routine, rather than worrisome.
Maybe this would be a good time to sit down as a family and talk about what you hope the summer looks like — and establish your own set of norms. These might look different for different families, but here are some summer safety routines we should probably share:
This should be a life motto, regardless of age. I am not a dermatologist so I will not attempt to recommend a specific brand, SPF, list of ingredients to avoid, etc. There are medical professionals to consult about that (especially if you have a child with allergies, eczema, etc.). What I will say is that expiration dates matter. Check the bottle, and if the date has passed, invest in a new one. Trust me, I’m speaking from (very unfortunate) personal experience.
Pack a hat and/or sunglasses.
In an ideal world, everyone would wear both. But I have a toddler, so I live in the real world. For the littlest Bostonians, hats are an important safety tool to shield eyes but also to protect those still-mostly-bald heads. If your little one has light eyes, it is especially important to encourage them to protect those eyes with sunglasses. (Also, as you probably know, New England weather can change in an instant, so if you’re going to be out for an extended period of time, it’s worth stowing the sunglasses or hat just in case the sun makes an unexpected appearance.)
I still consider myself in the rookie stage of motherhood (and New England life for that matter), so I underestimated the importance of this one. Boston is filled with splash pads, which means water shoes (or some equivalent) are a must. The traction alone makes them worth it, but avoiding bare feet on hot concrete/rocks/whatever else might be lurking on the ground makes them essential. If you’re a rookie mom too, I probably saw you at Target today sifting through the remaining supply of water shoes, which had clearly been depleted by the wiser veteran moms a few weeks ago. Live and learn, right?
No one swims alone.
This should probably be the number one summer safety rule. Of course, it’s important to teach our kids to swim as soon as possible, but it’s equally important to remember that no one should be in or around a pool alone. That goes for older kids and adults too.
Check for ticks.
In case you didn’t know, New England has ticks — a lot of them. Get in the habit of checking your kids (and yourself!), especially if you take a hiking adventure to the Blue Hills or Wachusett Mountain.
This one is probably most needed for moms. We worry so much about packing water for our kids, and sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves! We need water as much as they do (or more — especially if we’re breastfeeding). Invest in a good water bottle that suits your needs, and make it a summer staple.
What else should we add to our summer safety checklist to make sure this is a safe, fun-filled Boston summer?