The best time of year to be a parent, just don't forget sunscreen
Mum of two, bar manager, lover of tequila.
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?
How to make the most of your time while working from home.
If you're anything like me, you might have felt that working from home has its ebbs and flows.
For one, you can work from the comfort of your own home or now, since restrictions are somewhat lifted in the United States ( I'm in New York City), you could go to a coffee shop if you want to change your scenery.
On the other hand, working from home can have its pitfalls because it can be easy to be distracted by your phone, television, or outside noises.
Essentially, productivity can easily fly out of the window.
But how can it be easier to make the most out of the day while working from home?
For months, I asked myself this question, figuring out the most effective way to do it.
I tried various things, such as listening to lo-fi music courtesy of Chilled Cow's live streams on YouTube or moving myself to a different location in my home to "change" the vibe.
Some of those things would work for a short amount of time, but then I felt myself becoming distracted all over again.
However, on one miraculous day, I stumbled across a technique that prompted my curiosity. And once I tried it, I've never felt more productive.
The method in question is the "TomatoTimer."
What is the TomatoTimer?
Also known as the Pomodoro Technique(which is the Italian word for tomato) method, it is a method that uses a timer to help carve out more time in the day to keep up with all the daily to-dos.
Here are the steps:
1.Set a timer for 25 minutes and then focus on one single task for that duration of time until the timer beeps.
2.When the session comes to a close, mark off that completed task.
3. Next, take a five-minute break to scroll social media or make a coffee.
4. After completing four cycles of the Pomodoro, take a longer break of 10-30 minutes.
Who created the method?
The technique was created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, a university. He was having a difficult time focusing on his work and finishing assignments.
Because he was feeling overwhelmed, he decided to take 10 minutes to focus on studying actively.
Further encouraged by this challenge, he encountered a tomato-shaped kitchen timer that birthed the technique's name.
Why are the intervals not longer than 25 minutes?
Per the site, twenty-five minutes is short enough to work on a task and not feel the woes of burnout. It's also sufficient enough to take on tasks that might not be the most inspirational.
"Having each Pomodoro 25 minutes long helps to create a sense of urgency when working on the task. This time frame isn't super long, so once you begin, you know you need to work hard on the task because the 25 minutes is going to end soon," the site reads.
Ultimately, it's a fun and innovative way to get the most out of the day, all while feeling better about all of the things accomplished.
For more information, check out the website here.