Summmertime Dadding

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.

  1. Use those pesky 5am wake-ups to plan your day … if you’re coherent enough to do so.
  2. Do not forget the baby sunblock.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Do NOT forget the baby sunblock.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  13. Never underestimate the value of a snooze cruise, but don’t attempt one if your AC isn’t working.
  15. 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?!?