With the last few days of school falling off the calendar rapidly, summer beckons children all around Eastern Iowa with promises of ball games, swimming lessons, camp-outs, fireworks, and lazy days spent outdoors soaking up the sunshine.
See that profile pic of me? I’m that pale year-round. As a redhead, I’ve been bathing in sunscreen since I was a wee one. I was pale long before Nicole Kidman made it cool to be pale. And I’m fine with that. My husband? I’m not sure, but the way he melts in weather warmer than 70 degrees, I think he might be part vampire, or maybe a wax statue or something. This means my poor kids have no chance – they are fish-belly, pasty little creatures who know to stop for sunscreen on the way out the door.
It’s probably not going to surprise you, but I may be the only child of the 1990’s (I graduated high school in 1991) who doesn’t know what the inside of a tanning booth looks like. No fake bake for this mama! While the other girls in my class were turning odd shades of tannish-orange in April for the prom, I was proudly sporting the “never has tan lines” look.
I poke fun at myself, but dealing with the harmful rays of the sun is serious business. Research is showing that even one bad burn can cause a lifetime of health issues. Here is a link to the Center for Disease Control’s page on skin cancer prevention. However, in case you’re not going to click through, here are some of the basic points:
- Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 on all exposed skin – this means face, lower arms, and chest (that’s the spot I forget) even on days that seem cloudy or cool.
- Wear protective clothing if you don’t want to slather on sunscreen – hats with large brims, loose fitting long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses.
- Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours. Re-apply more frequently if you’re in water.
- Check the expiration date of your sunscreen – most sunscreens have a shelf life of 3 years unless they are exposed to extreme heat (like getting left in the hot car). Then it is significantly shorter than three years.
Now here are some tips I have for getting sunscreen on kids. Because you know they just really want to sit there while you put sunscreen on them…
- Use a sunscreen stick for faces. Kids hate it when they get sunscreen in their eyes – actually, I do, too. Lotion can run very quickly into kids’ eyes, especially if you’re re-applying when they are sweaty.
- I use spray sunscreen for everything else because it goes on fast and doesn’t require me to rub my kids all over. This means that they are more likely to let me get them well-covered.
- If you’re using a spray sunscreen, do it outside so that the over-spray doesn’t coat your floors and make them slippery. I make my kids go out on the back porch.
- If you think your kid might take their shirt off, go ahead and spray their back and chest. If they don’t, you’ve wasted a little bit of sunscreen, but if they do your child is protected.
- Don’t forget lip balm with SPF! My kids actually like this.
- Put a hat on your baby! Most babies don’t have thick enough hair to protect their delicate scalps, so put a lid on it when you head out.
I know it seems like a major pain to get your entire family sunscreen-ed before heading out, but getting your kids into the habit early will help them have healthy skin for a lifetime. So put on some sunscreen and a hat and have some fun this summer!