As a new dad, and a stay-at-home dad, I’ve discovered that life with a baby is a whole new world of wonder, amazement, pride and limitless new challenges that otherwise would only exist in the fever dreams of a gibbering lunatic.
But even though I’ve only been a dad for a relatively short time, I thought I might impart some helpful tips for summertime fun with a little less of the “Oh-My-God-I-Forgot-the-_____” kind of panic. So the following are tips for any other parents — new, single or just overworked — that might help in these upcoming scorcher months.
- Use those pesky 5am wake-ups to plan your day … if you’re coherent enough to do so.
- Do not forget the baby sunblock.
- Make sure you have a change of clothes for yourself AND each child. The number of clothing changes is inversely proportional to age, so a 5-year-old may need one change of clothes, while 1-year-old will need five.
- Develop a game you can play in the car while everyone is strapped into their seats so that beach traffic does not turn your car into a scene from The Shining — anything from peekaboo for the younger younglings to Guess that Smell for the older crowd.
- Do NOT forget the baby sunblock.
- Stash extra diapers in the car like a squirrel hiding nuts: in the glove compartment, trunk, side door pocket, under the hood, in the seat lining, behind the headlights. Your mechanic might give you a funny look, but trust me, it’s well worth it not to have an overheated engine in traffic, a full diaper and no options.
- Don’t over-pack. Remember, if you can’t carry and deploy it with one hand (eg, stroller, beach umbrella, cooler, outdoor playpen, sun shelter), then don’t pack it. You will almost certainly be juggling a child in one arm. If it doesn’t fit in a backpack or you don’t have older children to act as pack mules, keep it at home.
- Don’t let young children go barefoot. If you think the sand is hot, think about how soft, non-calloused, tender baby feet are going to feel. Your eardrums will thank you for the distinct lack of inconsolable screaming.
- Make some frozen juice pops in the freezer. If you’re having a rough day, make some frozen coffee pops for yourself. Wash the tray THOROUGHLY when finished so you don’t serve your hyperactive toddler an espresso-berry treat. Don’t do that to yourself, you masochist.
- Buy a bag of ice for the cooler. Do not open it. When it’s time to head home after a day of fun in the sun, lightly wrap the bag in a towel and leave it in the car seat for five minutes before placing a child in it. You’re welcome.
- Shady spots are usually best for days out with tots; and never underestimate the value of a library trip when the temp hits triple-digits. They are air conditioned and have wifi, and they usually have fun things for kids to do.
- DO NOT FORGET THE BABY SUNBLOCK
- Never underestimate the value of a snooze cruise, but don’t attempt one if your AC isn’t working.
- DO. NOT. FORGET. THE. BABY. SUNBLOCK!
- Scout local spots ahead of time to find out which bathrooms have baby changing tables BEFORE you find yourself running to the back of a store with a leaking infant.
I hope you find these hints helpful. And what did I tell you about the baby sunblock?!?