Hello. I'm Lauren, and I am not an outdoorsy person. I want to be. I want to look forward to hiking and tents and bright sunny days. I want to. But most of the time, I really don't.
In fact, when I was in college, my favorite kinds of days were the ones that were gray and gloomy and forced you to stay inside. Big, dark, cranky-looking clouds make a hot cup of tea at least 50% more enjoyable, and make the broody, handsome male protagonists of Victorian novels a full 85% more enjoyable.
And then I had kids.
Suddenly, those big, cranky clouds went from signaling a relaxing day of reading to signaling a day of kids fighting over which Pokemon they get to be, and whether or not an "electric type" beats a "water type." (I do not know which one wins, and to my horror, I have found myself legitimately wondering what the answer is.)
So, this means that I actually get excited about sunny days now. Sunny days mean my kids might talk about Pokemon outside where I can't hear the fighting quite so clearly. Sunny days mean I get to open the windows and not pay so much for utilities.
Sunny days also mean children want to play in water. Sometimes that means you have to actually go somewhere to play in water. This is okay, I promise. I have a few tips to help you through.
1. Pack snacks. FOR YOURSELF.
We all know we've got to pack snacks for our kids. We may not always pull it off, but we know they're going to get hungry and start making really loud whining noises if we don't. What do we usually forget? Snacks for ourselves. What happens when you get hungry and it's hot outside and one of your kids can't find a flip flop and the other one doesn't want to play in the water, they just want to sit next to you asking questions about A) Peppa Pig, B) death, or C) both?
We get hangry. And sometimes the answer that should be "Well, honey, I don't know how Peppa's great grandma died," turns into "Peppa's a cartoon and my guess is that the writers never thought ONCE about her great grandma, and I'm taking some of your goldfish crackers now."
Pack some protein, friends.
2. Apply Sunscreen Before Leaving the Seats
If you've ever put sunscreen on a kid before, you'll know that the process is similar to trying to rub peanut butter on a giant flopping fish that is screaming "I WON'T GET A SUNBURN I PROMISE."
Try putting the sunscreen on the kids while they're still sitting in their car seats. Flopping is reduced to a minimum, they can't turn their heads away from you like a grumpy owl, and you can keep all kids contained until it's ACTUALLY time to get out of the vehicle in a calm, orderly fashion.
3. Be Aware of the Bucket
Now, I'm not interested in bringing up a Great Parenting Debate, but I think it's important to talk about pool toys, specifically if we're talking about playing at a city splashground.
Some parents believe their kids need to share their toys, others believe that it's not their responsibility to provide other kids with entertainment. I'm telling you I don't care what your philosophy is, just pick a side and prepare your small people. I'm telling you this for your sanity.
If you bring toys, warn them that other kids will probably want to play with them, and give them a plan. If you don't bring toys, warn them that other kids don't have to share with them, and give them a plan. Chances are that if you talk about it first, you won't have to listen to quite as much screaming, and you might avoid the "I'm sorry my kid stabbed your kid with his own sand shovel" conversation.
4. Bring a Book, but Don't Expect to Read It
Much like stumbling upon a rare native animal in your backyard, finding a parent actually getting to read their book or flip through a magazine while their kids play is not as common as one might hope. Skinned knees, the horrifying surprise of a kid getting wet even though they're specifically there to get wet, and a million other things can get in the way of 7-10 minutes of uninterrupted reading.
That being said, the one time you think, "It's not like I ever get to actually read anyway," and leave your book at home, your kids will suddenly decide they don't want to fight about Pokemon and then actually play Pokemon for 2 hours.
Bring the book… just don't plan on actually reading it.