20 Hacks for Summer Fun

20 summer life hacks (1)Recently, I have had many friends ask for suggestions about how to ensure a great road trip with kids in tow and how to make the most of a beach trip with little ones.

Here are some of my top hacks to make summer less stress and more smiles for all the miles and miles, including those along any sandy stop.

  1. Audio Books: You can download them from your local library, get an Audible account or just check out the old-fashioned CD’s. We have Overdrive and Libby which allow you to check out audiobooks from your local Public Library. Seriously this is the best thing we have done on long car trips and my kids have actually been mad at me when we have to get out of the car and turn it off. There are lots more free audiobook sites and we have downloaded so many long series; Narnia series including The Silver Chair and Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. We are excited to listen to single classics like The Jungle Book and Little Women.
  2. Don’t bring crayons on a car trip. It’s so hot and you’ll never get the smell of melted crayon out of your car. Just don’t. Sticker books, pencils, colored pencils, books, comics are all your friends.
  3. Grab your winter plastic sled and load up your beach essentials and drag them rather than carry it all on your shoulders. A saucer disk works great for this if you don’t have a collapsible wagon.
  4. Keep hand sanitizer, wipes, bug spray and sunblock stick should all go in a bin in your car along with individual tissue packs. Tissue packs = toilet paper.
  5. A beach bag that you can disassemble and put in the wash is valuable. Any utility tote is a good option but as long as you can wash out spilled sunblock from it and throw it in the washing machine you should be good.
  6. Once you get to the beach, you want to have a few essentials on hand.
    1. Mesh sand mat. I bought one from Wish for less than $10 and it has anchor loops on each corner that would be great if I ever remember to bring stakes for them, but I have a hack for that too.
    2. Plastic bags: If you’re wanting to be green, reuse bread bags or chip bags. These are useful for many reasons. Your kids are going to create mayhem and also want to collect many disgusting seaweed covered items. I like to fill 4 of them with sand and use them as weights for the corners that I always forget the stakes for. You can also just use plastic Wallyworld bags that you have hanging around. I keep several in the car for wet clothes, carsick accidents and when I make the kids clean the myriad of summer snacking remnants from the back of the car. When your kids ask for one of the million treats that you will invariably give them in order to “reinforce” good behavior you’ll be able to encourage them to pick up their mess before you add to the chaos that is your summer decorating scheme for your car. You can even fold them and put them in a tissue box if you want to be fancy, but most of the time I just shove them in a resusable shopping bag.
    3. Reusable Shopping Bags: Make you kids carry their own crap. I give them each a reusable shopping bag and they can take what they can carry. Roadtrips include blankets and stuffies, beach days include snacks and towels.IMG_2551
    4. Compile a BEACH BOX: We have a plastic storage bin with beach towels, sunblock, kites, deflated floaties and other fun beach toys and we choose from the box each time we head out to the beach and the kids need to carry whatever they’d like to bring. This also keeps your linen closet from being ransacked each time they’re looking for a beach towel.
    5. Frisbees: Frisbees: These double as a quick plate if you wash them or have contained food; fruits and bagged snacks.
    6. Mesh Laundry Bag: This is how to have sand toys that don’t hold all the sand in the Sahara until it get to your car. Pop these in a mesh laundry bag and once you’re ready to leave gather them up and rinse the entire bag in the water. It’s usually dry by the time we get to the car.
    7. Mesh Baby Wrap: This is a winner for moms who have someone who’s not quite ready to be floating around unattended. The material is the same as the basketball practice jerseys, and dries as quickly but lets wash it more than once a year unlike the ones in junior high gym class.IMG_8805
    8. Baby pool: This is awesome if you have a little one, which keeps sand off and even doubles as a place to sleep. If you’re not using it at the beach, it also makes a great ball pit in a room, or comfy place to lay down in a truck bed for fireworks viewing.Baby Pool Naps
    9. Frozen two liters of water or frozen gallon jug of water. This is smart to have in the cooler vs a bag of ice because it thaws much more slowly and you can drink the water that thaws. We also carry water bottles and flavor mixes to add to make individual lemonades. You can keep a couple in your purse so kids aren’t drinking soda all summer whenever you’re out. We like the True Lemon types because they are made with Stevia and natural flavors. Waterbottle Drinking
    10. First Aid Kit: Here’s what we have on hand, and you can use a repurposed metal lunchbox, fishing tackle container, wipes box or whatever is clever.
      1. Band Aids: I prefer something embarrassing for adults to use, like My Little Pony or emojis, and you can find them at the Dollar Store.
      2. Peppermint essential oil. Helps with bug bites and makes you smell like Christmas.
      3. Benadryl: Just in case anyone gets stung by a hornet or wasp, this helps with the swelling reaction. I have a terrible sensitivity to wasp stings and they’re all over.
      4. Meat Tenderizer: If you’re headed to the ocean, jellyfish are sometimes washed ashore or floating around minding their own business but will still cause you to feel like you’d rather cut off your own limb than deal with the pain. Meat Tenderizer helps neutralize the sting while you decide if it warrants an actual trip to the Urgent Care.
      5. Black Tea Bags: These are double-duty. Use them dry to absorb terrible odors, or steep a strong batch of tea to chill and use as a way to recover from a sunburn. The tannins in the tea help take the redness and pain out of a burn. We’ve only had a couple sunburns in our family but I know it can happen that you get a bad batch of sunblock or just miss an area when you’re applying it.
      6. Alcohol wipes: Smell them to stave off nausea, and use them to clean scrapes.
      7. Motrin: This is taken for when you have to ride with someone with terrible musical taste.
      8. Honey packets: These can be used in place of antibacterial gel and also delicious!
      9. Tweezers: Splinters stink and also what if you get someplace and you realize that your brows are jacked?
      10. Diaper or pullup. These are great if someone has legit bleeding but I’ve only used them to soak up entire Slurpees that have been spilled in the backseat.
      11. Instant ice pack: If you don’t have one, you’re almost guaranteed to have someone bump their head once all the ice has melted.
    11. Books: We always have books when we leave the house all summer long. Sometimes the kids will have to come with me for some event or have to go to the post office, but for sure a road trip should require several books. We also visit Tiny Neighborhood Libraries and drop books and it may be fun once you’re at your destination to see what tiny library you might be able to drop a book in and grab a new one. IMG_5915.JPG
    12. Composition notebook: This is great for making lists, paper airplanes, drawing and cataloging the summer fun. We also use them to provide a place to put down all the ideas about things to make and do all summer. When your kids are asking for things, tell them to put it on the list so you don’t forget once you’re home and they can add it to the gift list they’d like for bithdays or holiday giving.
    13. Small toys: I have blind bags or dollar tree toys for road trips and when we get to a new state, the kids get a surprise from the toy bags. It’s a reinforcement for good behavior between stretches of road. These can be anything, from a mini slinky, comic or glowsticks. I try to make sure they have something to look forward to besides getting out of the car.
    14. Food: When traveling or popping over to the beach, it’s best to keep it simple. Lunchmeat and crackers with cheese is simple and you can make tons of mini “sandwiches”. Let’s be honest, we’re really just trying to make sure the main course isn’t sand, so also include items like fruits and veggies that you can rinse off with a splash of water and it won’t ruin them. Include frozen juice packs and wine slushies for grown ups and you have a winning combination.
    15. Dranks for the beach: Sometimes adults go to the beach without kids!! My life hack for beaching without kids, and having a cocktail is to bring your own sippy cup and mix whatever you’d like, also works great for camping. Being that I don’t like to try to bring glass bottles around, and flasks typically get hot, I have found an answer! Please make sure you keep your grown up dranks away from kidlets and be a responsible human who doesn’t get behind the wheel when you’ve been enjoying your boozy juice boxes in the sun. Some great options are to add liquor to carbonated flavored water, and enjoy a vodka + soda or add a little spike to your own frozen drinks from a drive-thru. I love my Tervis cup for mixing on the beach, but you can use whatever insulated options you prefer. IMG_1943
    16. Beach Umbrella anchor: It may seem like you don’t really need to spend the money to buy a screw to put your umbrella in, but chasing your giant rainbow umbrella into the surf is less entertaining than you’d think.
    17. Balloon inflating pump: We have one of these from a balloon-twisting pack and we use it to pump up our floaties. It keeps me from passing out. You can also use it in the water to shoot water jets at each other.
    18. Sock filled with baby powder: You get a clean sock and put a generous amount of baby powder in it so you have a ball of powder inside. When you rub the sock on your sandy self, the powder releases the sand and you don’t look like you got in an altercation with a furious baker.
    19. Clamps: Utility clamps found in the hardware section is what we use, but if you’re not handy you can snap off the clamps on plastic pants hangars. You can use these to hold things together to keep them from blowing away, close snack bags and hang up towels on your umbrella to dry or give more shade. Seriously, they’re invaluable.
    20. Pocketknife: Every proper lady should be able to cut open a container and not break a nail, so keep a knife in your purse at all times. I have used mine for tons of things when road-tripping and beaching. I carry one at all times, but if you haven’t started it’s smart to keep a multi-tool in the glove compartment or a knife in your handbag. IMG_2532
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