BY DR. LISA GOODMAN, DC, CCSP, CACCP
Summer can sometimes feel like a free-for-all, for some reason we allow all of the rules we live by to disappear when the days get longer and warmer. Perhaps we just want to soak it all in, enjoy a glass of rosé while listening to music on the back deck and watching our kids ride their bikes in the warm summer evening. Or maybe the kids are spending most days in an activity-filled day camp followed by baseball games that last until the sun goes down. It can be very difficult to maintain routines and make smart choices in the summer, but prioritizing a few key daily rituals will help you and your family have a happy and healthy summer!
Sleep is Key
Intuitively we all know that we do better with plenty of restful sleep. Yet, in the summer, kids’ bedtimes seem to go out the window! Instead of 7:30 or 8pm bedtime, you may find your kids staying up until 9 or 10pm. Just as important as early(ish) bedtime is staying consistent and maintaining a routine. If you are at an occasional late Rockies game or backyard movie night, get back on track the following night. One suggestion for kids who struggle with bedtime variety in the summer is to be sure you prepare them before you get home! Tell them what their routine will be that night (quick shower, 10 minutes of reading, etc.) and what time lights-out is. That will speed things up once you walk in the door after sundown.
In the winter, we long for the days when we no longer have to search for matching mittens or find a child’s winter hat. If only summer were as simple as throwing on flip flops and heading out the door. But alas, we are faced with the daily sunscreen application process. Here is where many of us take shortcuts. We reach for sprays which tend to contain a lot of chemicals, lack even coverage and have a negative impact on the environment. In the last few years huge advances in sunscreens have been made, and it is important to keep up. The best sunscreens for you and your kids are mineral based products (ie. zinc based). This makes them more of a physical blocking of UV rays to the skin rather than a chemical blocking. Prices are coming down and they are available everywhere. Pros – safe for long term use, Cons – white coating on skin, more cumbersome to apply.
If you are only planning to be outside or in the sun for 15-20 minutes consider skipping the sunscreen. Sun exposure is super important for production of Vitamin D and keeping our immune system running at 100%. For longer stays in the sun, carry an umbrella or pop a tent for shade. Wear a hat and sunglasses at all times and consider UV protective clothing. No sunscreen is perfect and no sunscreen lasts longer than two hours, so don’t forget to reapply during peak sun hours.
Avoiding Bug Bites and Bee Stings
Arguably the most difficult thing to avoid are bug bites and bee stings. Most insect repellents contain DEET which is extremely toxic and should be avoided. Your best bet is to avoid areas with standing water, luckily Colorado is not a mosquito’s favorite climate. Try a citronella soap if you are camping or know you’ll be around bugs; or stock up on natural insect repellents. We all know that bees like food and drinks, do your best to keep your food covered, drink sweet drinks out of covered cups and keep your serving area indoors. Bees love to hang out in the grass so be sure to wear closed-toed shoes when summering outside. If you do suffer a bite or sting, use an ice cube to relieve the sting.
A Note on Food & Drink
Colorado is warm and dry in the summer. Stay hydrated!! Water, water, water and more water. Make some fruit infused water to get your kids excited about it. Check out caffeine free herbal fruit teas and make a pitcher of sun tea to enjoy. As the days are longer and the backyard grill is hot, we also tend to eat dinner later. Reminder that eating your last meal of the day before 7pm is better for your belly and your waistline! Drinking alcohol is also detrimental to your bikini body so beware in the long summer afternoons!
Be sure to ride your bikes to all of the awesome ice-cream shops in the Wash Park Area.
Sweet Cow – Ready-to-go Ice Cream Cakes and amazing root beer floats on S. Pearl next to Park Burger
Sweet Action – Offering both dairy and vegan ice cream on S. Broadway
Bonnie Brae – A neighborhood staple on S. University Ave
Aiko Pops – For a delicious popsicle like you’ve never had before on S. Pearl / Louisiana