When I say “survival”, I’m being only partly facetious — these are the helpful tools that I’ve come to love, and that I bought pretty much entirely because of alarming things I’ve read on the Internet. (Yay for anxiety-driven buying sprees!) So call it a summer safety checklist, or call it a “I-spend-too-much-time-on-social-media-reading-stuff” checklist — either way, here’s the list of some of the good stuff.
Last year about this time, my (city-dwelling) neighbor found a tick on her daughter’s neck– this, after playing outside on their front porch. In the city!! (Not even the Wissahickon or Smith Playground!) She mentioned to me that she used a tick key to remove it (a tick key is this contraption, meant to be more effective than just plain old tweezers at removing a whole tick, body and head), and within three minutes of hearing her story, I ordered a three-pack of them … you know, just in case. (Shudder.)
Crocs with Velcro and/or Plae shoes
Every time my kid runs in Crocs, he bites it. At least, that was true until we found these Crocs last year — Swimwater Wave Slip-Ons — with a little Velcro tab. There’s no sling in the back, so they’re built like a well-fitted sneaker, but also, yes, still waterproof and unstinky and easy to put on like a Croc. We made it a whole summer with no tripping-related face-plants. Still, for this summer, we tried Plae, and I think I like them even more, if only because they have all the same benefits and fit great, and are, quite frankly, cooler looking.
A Portable Beach Cabana
With every year that passes, I am more exhausted by the thought of reapplying sunscreen every hour or however often we have to do it now that our sunscreens are all made of vegan-based, non-toxic, chemical-free (but not so long lasting) ingredients. (See more on that below.) I’ll reapply for the kids, I guess, but anytime I can plant myself under a tent and save an application, I’m in. There’s also the added bonus of extra protection from the Cheez-It-scarfing seagulls.
Last summer, in the throes of pregnancy and Zika fear, I bought approximately $50 worth of the intense if effective bug-repelling permethrin (though my neighbor swears that the naturally based Cutter lemon eucalyptus inspect repellent is extremely effective). I also bought two citronella plants for the porch and a similar version of this adorable dress, which happens to be insect-repelling (that’s ticks and mosquitoes!). The dress was my favorite of these, obviously. And they sell them in longer versions, as well as shorts and pants and shirts — and stuff for kids, too — so if you’re going somewhere particularly woodsy or buggy, it’s that much more anti-bug help.
Okay, fine. Not survival, but after the several dozen bottles of spilled bubbles we suffered through in summers past, the spill-proof version has saved dozens of meltdowns at very least. (Mine and the kid’s.)
As the sunscreen list of doom grows seemingly by the minute (this list, if you don’t know what I’m talking about), finding “safe” sunscreens that aren’t too thick, too chalky, too stinky, too fill-in-the-blank feels like a very, very expensive experiment each summer. I will say, though, for the record that some of my very favorite from the safe list is ThinkBaby sport sunscreen. It’s rated in the top-tier by EWG, and while it’s definitely thick, it rubs in relatively quickly, and smells delicious. (Reminds me of pineapple.) Ash, however, has sworn by California Baby for awhile now, and I know several moms who are die-hard Beauty Counter sunscreen stick fans.