Keeping kids healthy and hydrated can be a challenge during summer break. Warm weather and freedom from school can lull us into a false sense of security.
Summer is full of all sorts of fun and adventures. Swimming, sprinklers, hiking and camping, fun camps and playgroups. The options are limitless! And of course it’s not cold and flu season yet! Well almost! Warm weather and not being cooped up in a school can lull us into a false sense of security.
Deceptive daylight bedtimes, bright early mornings, your local pool, and fantastic library reading programs can also have a side effect. Germs and sleep deprivation! Unfortunately, an extra dose of vitamin D is no match for the viruses your preschooler picked up by licking the pool noodle during swim lessons. Being sick during summer is the worst. Everything is outside and awesome but you’re stuck indoors not feeling so awesome.
Tips to help prevent and shorten common summer fun killers
This epidemic can run rampant when bath towels and clothes are in close quarters at pools, camps, and even the library. Lice are truly the most feared and hated of all bugs. The best preventive I’ve found is tea tree oil in your kid’s shampoo and conditioner. There are a few good shampoos for kids that deter the pests from jumping aboard too.
Checking kids often and keeping hair short or pulled back can help. And if the dreaded does occur, try a day long hair treatment of mayo with tea tree oil. A good friend that did foster care for years said it’s hands down the most effective treatment.
Bacteria and Viruses
Some bugs are just tricky, they sneak up on you, by the time you know it’s there you’ve already spread it around. Using antibacterial and antiviral herbs in teas and as a gargle can help. Essential oils like tea tree, thyme, oregano, and lavender properly diluted can help when used in a gargle or applied to feet. Using teas and oils regularly can help prevent illnesses from taking root. Mostly just try to keep their mouths off of things. And figures out of their noses and mouths.
Using teas and oils regularly can help prevent illnesses from taking root. Mostly, just try to keep your kids mouth off of unusual things, and their fingers out of their noses and mouths.
Ear Infections and Swimmers Ear
Ear infections are a total kill joy and quite painful. One of the best preventive methods I’ve found is to use a Q-tip with rubbing alcohol or vinegar to do a quick swipe of the ear after swimming to prevent water getting stuck and is also antibacterial. Keeping ears dry is the best prevention.
For ear infections, my go to is a drop of tea tree oil, some olive oil, and a small amount of minced garlic, wrapped in a cotton ball and worn just on the outer part of ear opening overnight. This treatment works wonders, especially if it’s applied as soon as the ear become uncomfortable or painful. My kids actually ask for this when their ears hurt, it works that well.
We often forget that kids are more susceptible to the heat. They are affected by it faster and require water more frequently than we do. Kids are also much more likely to wait until thirsty to drink and get dehydrated pretty quickly. It’s hard to break away from the fun to do something boring like drink a glass of water.
The best way to prevent heat stroke is to keep kids hydrated. Monitor how much water they are drinking and how frequently. Limit sodas that prevent water absorption and juices that are full of sugar. Keep kids indoors, in the shade, or in cooler water during the hottest times of the day. Remember being in a pool or running through sprinklers is getting wet, not getting hydrated, so make sure they are still drinking lots of water. Know the signs of heat stroke and check frequently for precursors like redness, no sweat and being warm to the touch. Act
Heat exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke and is a direct result of the body overheating. Know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion and check frequently for precursors. Act quickly to cool them down at a steady pace.
According to Mayo Clinic, heat exhaustion is identifiable by heavy sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness, fatigue, cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat, muscle cramps, nausea, and headache.
These symptoms may develop over time or come on suddenly, especially during or following periods of prolonged exercise
Obviously, sunblock is the key here. Apply every hour to two for continuous protection. Wearing hats and long sleeves that are moisture wicking and are light colors will help prevent heat stroke and keep UV rays from reaching the skin. If you’re like me and you forget sunscreen all too regularly then keep Aloe Vera handy. My daughter got her first burn of the summer last week and we found aloe with peppermint, and lavender essential oils to be quite soothing. Peppermint, lavender, frankincense, and geranium oils diluted with argon oil was her personal favorite though.
Growing up in Texas my favorite sunburn soother was Noxema and cold cream. Sounds like a facial, but man it cooled your skin off all day, and marked every girl at camp that had forgotten sunblock. That camp nurse was an angel!
‘Tis the season for Deet! Again growing up in Texas where the bugs are determined to eat you alive, I have a healthy fear of creepy crawlers and I’m all for Deet! I try to avoid aerosol that sprays it where ever the wind takes it. If you are opposed to chemicals, most major essential oil distributors have a signatory blend for bug repellents.
But nothing beats bug repellent soap made from those essential oils! It lasts longer than most sprays and is just as effective. I keep some in my camping shower bucket. If you know you’ll be hiking, take a shower. Like I said earlier though, I don’t mess around in this department so I still use DEET too. Even with repellent be diligent in checking for ticks after hiking and during and after camping. Lavender oil, hydrocortisone cream, and Benadryl creme will help calm itchy bites, as will ice.
Hopefully, you haven’t encountered too many of these summer fun busters so far this year and are living it up in the sun. For those of us who have been caught off guard by one of these culprits here’s an added treat. Literally!
Hydration and Electrolyte
The recipes below are immune boosters, promote optimal hydration and electrolyte balance, while tasting super yummy! Props to Simply Nourish at my local farmers market for the taste testing and recipes, I swear she halted our case of hand foot and mouth (dang grocery carts) with these. These are also fantastic alternatives to sports drinks.
Ancient Greek and Roman punch that was made from spoiled wine and given to the soldiers and actually made them healthier.
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey
Mix in saucepan and heat until dissolved and add
- 2 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar with the “mother”
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seed
Refrigerate and serve cold.
Switchel or Haymakers Punch
Originally from the Caribbean
- 2 cups hot water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with the mother
- 1/4 cup raw honey or molasses
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
Mix and stir until honey/molasses is dissolved. Refrigerate and serve cold
- A few sprigs of fresh cut rosemary
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup sliced lemon
Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to infuse into the water. My kids made this themselves and have been drinking this all week with enthusiasm! Added bonus, rosemary is antibacterial and antiviral while lemon is great for congestion. Other combinations could be raspberries and rosemary, cucumber and mint (soothing and cooling for fevers), blueberries and lavender (calming, antibacterial and antiviral).
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and hydrated summer. CHEERS!