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The challenges of summertime parenting - from brain freeze to sandy cars

The best time of year to be a parent, just don't forget sunscreen

The challenges of summertime parenting - from brain freeze to sandy cars

I love the sun more now than I ever did because parenting gets a bit easier in nice weather. But of course, the lighter nights and sunshine bring their own challenges too.

My four-year-old says the only thing he doesn't like about summer is brain freeze, which indicates how many ice lollies are consumed in this house. I made my own last summer from sugar-free cordial and may have to do the same again this year because they requested ice lollies for breakfast and haven't stopped asking.

When I said 'no' to morning lollies, he said, "We both want one, so that makes it two against one." I told him that the house doesn't work as a democracy, and he screamed – "I WANT DEMOCRACY."

He is fighting for his right to a rocket lolly before 8 am. We went to the beach this weekend as we are fortunate to live near the sea. I do love the beach, but sand gets everywhere, doesn't it?! And the boys were straight in the sea, which meant I had to follow, and the water was freezing.

I felt like a human ice lolly.

The boys loved jumping over the waves and crashing around; my toddler seemed to feel the cold like a normal human and was more hesitant. However, my four-year-old seemed impervious to the icy temperature and was straight in the sea like a nutter. (Quick aside – we should respect the sea and always swim within the flags. I am so grateful to the RNLI lifeguards on duty at my local beach).

I don't want to sound ungrateful for my proximity to the seaside, but the beach isn't perfect. Everything I own is now covered in sand, especially the car.

The boys got sand all over their snacks. There was a giant queue for extortionate ice cream and no shade anywhere. And putting sunblock on sandy skin isn't ideal.

Putting sunscreen on your children is necessary but can be as "challenging" as wrestling a crocodile. My four-year-old is now a dream child when it comes to sunblock application after I inadvertently traumatised him last year by showing him pictures of sunburnt children. My two-year-old, in classic toddler style, is more resistant.

But I did pick up a good tip from my sister-in-law that seems to work; give the child the option of spots or stripes of suncream and let them choose. He always chooses stripes "like a tiger." Then they can help rub it all in. Another tip – don't forget your own sunscreen, as I did this weekend.

I ended up a bit pink because after slathering sunblock on the kids, I forgot all about my own skin. It's wonderful that the evenings are lighter at this time of year, but alas – it's not ideal when you want your children to sleep at a decent hour.

You can understand their confusion and resistance when I say, "It's bedtime!" and they look out onto a glorious summer's day and say, "What?! It's not nighttime!"

Well, no – I guess it's not nighttime in the traditional, twinkle-twinkle-little-star, hello-moon kind of way, but it is nighttime because I'm ready for you to go to sleep, so I can have a bath, drink a beer in the waning sunshine, or watch Netflix.

Personally, we stick to our bedtime routine (for obvious reasons) and have invested in some decent black-out blinds. Surprisingly summer bedtime hasn't been a struggle so far this year.

I suspect this is because the boys seem knackered and ready for bed despite the light; there's something about being out in the sunshine that makes everyone extra sleepy.

I hope the weather stays nice, and we get to enjoy this brief period of sun-drenched time before the Autumn sneaks in.

The boy's favourite thing to do when it's sunny is run around in the sprinklers in the garden. I sit in a deck chair and watch the pure joy on their little faces. Sometimes I grab myself a cold beer too, and it might be my favourite time; the way the grass smells, the kids laughing, the sunshine. I wish I could bottle these moments and save them up for winter days.

When I look back in years to come of a time when the boys were "little," I think a lot of my favourite memories will be of this time of year; the paddling pool in my Mum's garden, splashing in the sea, barbeques, sandy toes, the smell of suncream. And that makes a sandy car worth it, doesn't it?

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Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
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This post was originally written and published on November 22 by Sima Bahous, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women.

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