Kids health

23 awesome summer hacks

From taking the itch out of mosquito bites to making the most awesome sprinkler, these are the summer hacks you need in your life.

By Today's Parent

23 awesome summer hacks

Photo: Stocksy United

Summer Hacks

How to save money of swim diapers

After an afternoon of splashing at the beach or floating around the pool, take that swim diaper off and…throw it in the laundry? Yep, it turns out that most disposable swim diapers can actually be washed and reused, as long as they aren’t soiled by poop. Just turn it inside out and toss it in the wash. Let it air-dry, and you’re good to go. It should hold together for a few washes. Look at you, saving money and the planet! (Of course, if you’re willing to wash swim diapers, you could always opt for the non-disposable kind.)

Mom holding up her baby while standing in a poolPhoto: Stocksy United

How to make applying sunscreen to your kid’s face suck less

First there were lotions, and then sprays. Now sunscreen is available in stick form, which kids tend to prefer when it comes to their faces, since it’s less goopy and cold. Apply the stick liberally, since it’s hard to know how much you’ve used (unlike lotion, which you squirt into your hand first).

Sunscreen face stick sitting on yellow orbsPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Keep valuables safe

Don’t want to leave your phone and wallet alone while you swim? Wrap your items in a clean diaper and leave it hidden at your beach site. Thieves won’t touch what appears to be a dirty diaper.

 

illustration of diaper that says 'ring ring'Illustration: Sarah Rafter

Make a wading pool

Keep the littlest ones (and their toys) close and safe by digging a small rectangular trench and lining it with a dollar-store plastic shower curtain liner. Secure it with sand you’ve dug up, and fill it with water. 

illustration of a pool at the beachIllustration: Sarah Rafter

Remove sand

When it’s time to head home, there’s that problem of sand being stuck to every inch of your kid’s still-damp body. Sprinkle baby powder on your kid’s skin—the sand will dry up and brush off easy-peasy. 

 

illustration of baby powder with words Illustration: Sarah Rafter

Avoid a bubble spill

All toddlers love bubbles—but many will insist on holding the bottle and wand themselves, leading to a catastrophic spill pretty much 100 percent of the time. Avoid this by using duct tape or a long zip tie to secure the bubbles container to a fence post, deck beam or tree at toddler level. 

 

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: iStockphoto

Garden with a toddler around

Want to do some work in the garden but your toddler needs a new job to keep her busy? Grab a bucket of water and a paintbrush, and let her “paint” something dry, like a wooden fence or the deck.

 

little girl watering bush with hosePhoto: Stocksy United

Make a sparkler hand protector

If your kids can’t stay up late enough to see Canada Day fireworks, they can at least try out a sparkler before bed. But those dancing sparks can be scary. Reduce the anxiety of holding a sparkler by making a hand protector. Just poke a hole through the base of a small foil pie pan. Hold the pan bottom-side up, and slide the sparkler through. Your little one’s paw will fit nicely below the pan, protected from any stray sparks.

 

tinfoil trays and sparklersPhoto: iStockphoto

Make an easy DIY sandbox

With just a bag or two of fine sand, a long and shallow lidded storage bin easily transforms into a sandbox—perfect with small backyards or to store at Grandma’s house. When not in use, snap the lid on to keep the sand cool and the pests out. 

23 awesome summer hacksPhotos: iStock and Canadian Tire

Schlep your stuff to the beach

Beach days are meant to be relaxing and fun, but when you’ve got kids and all their necessities, just getting there can make you feel like a pack mule. Instead of making repeated treks to the car, load all of your snacks, towels, swim gear, sunscreen, inflatable toys, sand buckets, swim diapers and so on onto a trusty toboggan and pull everything across the sandy banks. 

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: Stocksy United

How to use a pool noodle (on dry land)

Prepare for battle: For epic Sith versus Jedi duels, grab blue and red noodles. Cover one end of each noodle with duct tape. For buttons, add pieces of electrical tape. 

Get ready to race: With a serrated knife, carefully slice a pool noodle in half lengthwise. Prop each halved noodle on an angle and race marbles down. 

Saddle up: Bend one end down and secure with an elastic. Hot-glue on googly eyes, felt circles for nostrils, felt mane and ribbon reins. 

23 awesome summer hacksIllustration: Sarah Rafter

How to make a homemade sprinkler

1. Remove the label from a 2-L pop bottle. Push the sharp end of the knife into the side of the bottle until it makes a tiny hole. Continue poking holes across one half of one side of the area where the label was. Ensure the bottle is still inflated.

2. Secure a garden hose to the opening of the bottle with duct tape. Wrap the tape tightly around the hose to make sure it doesn’t leak.

3. Turn the water on. The greater the water pressure, the higher the spray!

23 awesome summer hacksIllustrations by Grace Cho

How to relieve an itchy mosquito bug bite

1. Press an X into the centre of the bite with a clean fingernail.

2. Place a spoon in hot water for a minute. Remove and let cool for 10 seconds, then lay the warm spoon on the bump.

3. Dab on a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil.

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: Stocksy United

Keep sand out at the beach

Grit can put a damper on your beach fun when it gets all over your towel or picnic area. Here’s a solution: Pack a fitted sheet, and lay it upside-down on the sand, and then place your bags, coolers and shoes in each corner to keep the space taut and sand-free.

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: iStockphoto

How to remove bandage residue

To get rid of that dirty, sticky bandage evidence that seems to stay on all summer long, gently massage a small amount of baby oil onto the skin. The residue should wipe right off.

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: iStockphoto

How to hold up sundress straps

Here’s a quick way to keep slouchy straps of a too-big dress in place. Pull them together in the centre of the back and secure with a small hair clip. Presto, no more falling straps.

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: iStockphoto

How to apply sunscreen on uncooperative kids

“We play ‘freeze!’ to see who can stay still the longest. Or I let them cover my face with sunscreen while I do theirs to keep them preoccupied.” —Linda McCool Limini, Waterloo, Ont.

“I put lotion dots all over one of his arms or legs and let him rub it in.” —Sherry Van Der Hayden, Windsor, NS

“I apply the sunscreen while my son is strapped into his high chair.” —Christi Dunn Wyers, Victoria, BC

“I squeeze some sunscreen into a bowl and get a cute paintbrush and paint it on their faces. It tickles them.” —Rebecca Howat, Frankford, Ont.

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: Getty Images

Soothe a sunburn

1. Squeeze aloe vera gel (choose a product as close to pure as you can) evenly into an ice cube tray (use a tray with fun shapes, if you can find one, as they’re easier for little hands to grip).

2. Place filled tray on a flat surface in the freezer and let set for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for best results.

3. Pop out a cube and grip with a face cloth. Apply to sun-chapped skin. The face cloth will absorb the extra aloe as it melts, making for easy cleanup.

23 awesome summer hacksIllustrations: Alex Mathers

How to prevent chlorine-damaged hair

1. Hair acts as a sponge, so be sure to wet it before jumping into the pool so it can’t absorb as much chlorinated water. Better yet, wear a swim cap.

2. Rinse hair with water immediately after your swim to get rid of any lingering chemicals.

3. Already notice chlorine damage such as hair with a straw-like texture or a green tint? Use clarifying shampoo and conditioner to restore its moisture.

Tip: Shampoos with high alcohol content dry out hair.

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: iStockphoto

How to make giant homemade bubbles

1. Create your own bubble solution by gently combining 1 cup dish soap, 1 tbsp glycerine and 4 cups water in a large bucket.

2. To make a big wand, get two drinking straws and a piece of yarn that is six to eight times longer than one straw. Thread the yarn through the straws and tie in a knot.

3. Using the straws as handles, dip the wand into the bubble solution, then wave it through the air in a large sweeping motion. tip: Holding your arms high while walking backwards results in the strongest, biggest bubbles!

23 awesome summer hacksIllustration: Grace Cho

How to treat a blister

1. If a blister is large or painful you can drain it with a straight pin that has been sterilized with rubbing alcohol. Once you’ve pierced it, gently press down on the blister so the liquid drains out of the puncture.

2. Once the blister is drained, wash the affected area gently with soap and water. Don’t remove the skin flap on the blister, as the skin helps healing and prevents infection.

3. Apply a layer of antiseptic ointment and cover with a clean bandage. Change the bandage once a day or when it gets dirty.

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: iStock

How to catch kids’ melting ice cream

Ice cream and frozen pops are perfect summer treats, but they’re messy ones, too. To corral all those spills, use a couple of paper cupcake liners. Just cut a hole in the centres and insert the base of the cone or stick to catch drips and keep little hands and clothes clean.

Tip: Avoid using coffee filters to catch ice cream drips. Filters are designed to let liquid pass through, so they’re just not up to the task!

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: Tony Lanz

How to create a car caddy

Keep things organized (and your kids entertained) on summer road trips with this simple solution. Purchase an over-the-door shoe organizer and tie it with ribbon to the back of the front seat. Fill the pockets with games, books, toys, coloured pencils and snacks so your child can access them all by herself. This may just mark the end of, “Are we there yet?”

Hanging shoe organizer with 16 pockets, $6, ikea.ca

23 awesome summer hacksPhoto: iStockphoto

Read more:
10 hydrating recipes to beat the heat
Summer first aid guide: How to treat minor injuries 10 old-school summer activities kids should try

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