By Katie Moosbrugger

For lots of moms, summertime can be anything but relaxing. From endless sunscreen latherings (one of my biggest pet peeves) – to constant monitoring of your little toddler’s every last move near water – to your never-ending quest to find comfort for you child and yourself in the hot, salty sun…summer break can be downright exhausting. Yet these tasks are a rite of passage for every mom. They must be tackled, no matter how challenging or time-consuming. So today I’m featuring clever products and ideas (thanks to suggestions from the TMoM team) that can help moms reclaim their sanity while enjoying a safe, sun-filled summer

Clever Tips and Tricks
Lots of these suggestions come from products you already use around the house, or can easily add to your beach bag or your packing lists this summer!

~ Baby Pools and Bumbo Chairs. If you’re headed to the beach with an infant or crawler this summer, consider taking along a baby pool or Bumbo chair. A full baby pool on the beach keeps your little one happy, occupied, cool and safe (with you nearby of course). Additionally, you child can sit with the assistance of a Bumbo Chair to enjoy the sand or small waves over his feet (be sure to use the chair safely!).

~ Corn Starch. Thanks to TMoM’s Dani Luft for this tip: You know how frustrating it is to eat on the beach without having sandy or salty hands? Try sprinkling corn starch on your hands before you snack. It dries up the moisture and the sand falls away! Some people suggest baby powder for this trick too, but it’s not safe to inhale or consume baby powder which could easily happen as you sprinkle on little hands. This trick also works well on your feet after you leave the beach! Who would have thought?

~ Smart Phone Timers. Never forget to reapply sunscreen again! Chances are good you’ll have your phone with you at the beach and pool, so simply set the alarm or timer on your smart phone to help you remember. By doing so, you may avoid lots of pink skin this season.

~ Frozen Aloe. In case the sunburns do happen, try freezing aloe in ice cube trays before you head out in the sun. Frozen aloe cubes are perfect skin soothers!

~ Baking Soda. Another remedy for sunburns and bug bites! Just mix a little baking soda with water and apply the paste directly to the spots that burn or itch.

~ Paint the pool deck. Pool breaks may only be 10 minutes long, but to kids (and moms) it seems to last an eternity. To pass the time, consider bringing paint brushes along with your buckets and pails. Have your kids “paint” the pool deck with water from their pails. This activity has kept my kids occupied long after the whistle blows to open the pool again.

~ No Spill Monogrammed Cups. Rachel found these cute cups, and said that not only are they cute, but you can be assured your kids won’t be knocking over all of their drinks at the pool or beach. If you know of a store that carries similar cups here in the Triad, let us know!

~ Natural “Babysitter.” Ashleigh with TMoM suggested this idea: “Dig a deep hole in the sand under our umbrella and let the kids play in it. We would call it our ‘babysitter; when our kids were babies/toddlers because they loved it in there and  we didn’t have to chase them all over. They were also in the shade of the umbrella the whole time and they were not near the water.”

~ Cool Flip Flops. Another suggestion from Ashleigh: turn your flip flops over when you get to the beach so that they are not burning up when you put them back on to leave the beach. So simple, yet brilliant!

~ Don’t Forget to Bag Up. You know how your kids will always want to leave the beach with a million shells and trinkets they found yet you never have a good place to store them all? Well, Kristie with TMoM shared a great idea: stock your beach bag with plastic zip lock bags! You can even label them before you leave the house so your kids won’t have to fight over whose shell is whose!

~ Bring out the bright. This may seem like a no-brainer, but dressing your kids in the brightest neons of the season can help you keep a close eye on them as they run around the beach or swim among a sea of people in the pool. Likewise, you might want to do the same for yourself (and/or your beach chair and umbrella) so your child can quickly find you in the crowds.

Swim Safety
Lots of these products have been around for years, but it doesn’t hurt to remind parents how helpful they can be at the pool and the beach. Plus, some products have recently been enhanced for added safety.

~ Shaded baby floats. Both my kids loved the water from an early age, but when they’re too young to wear sunscreen, it can be a little nerve wracking to let them swim for too long. Once I discovered a shaded baby float, we were all able to stay in the pool much longer (and my arms didn’t ache from holding my baby the entire time!). You can find an entire assortment of these floats here.

~ Puddle Jumpers. Both my kids used arm floaties and they did just fine, however, Puddle Jumpers add in extra protection for new swimmers and avoid any possibility of them getting caught upside down in the water. Puddle Jumpers are U.S. Coast Guard- approved, and are perfect for building water confidence for kids. And they come in a variety of fun colors and designs.

~ Incremental foam pad swim trainers. I love this concept. These two-sided trainers each come with nine removable foam pads. So, as your child gets more confident in the water, you can slowly take out one foam sheet. Before you know it – and before your child realizes it – she will be swimming unassisted in the pool!

Sunscreens and Bugscreens
We all know there is a plethora of sunscreens and insect repellents on the market. Below we feature a few popular brands you can find at Babies ‘R Us, but always check with your pediatrician first regarding the best products for your particular family.

~ Popular Brands. BabyGanics was launched by two dads in 2006, and features a whole line of healthy and naturally safe products – from sunscreens and insect repellents to cleaning solutions, skin care, diaper products and bath products, laundry items and oral care. What’s great about their sunscreen and “bugscreen” products is that you can be assured none of them contain any PABA, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, nano-particles or fragrances. Other safe, natural and popular brands that can be found at Babies ‘R Us include California Baby, Mustela, Aveeno and Neutrogena.

~ Wristbands, stickies and belt clips. I had no idea these products existed but will be sure to stock up on them this summer. Items like the Sonic Mosquito Repeller, Twist-It Mosquito Repeller, Bug Band Insect Repellent Wristbands, andBugables Mosquito Repellent Stickers (also sold at Babies ‘R Us, just not on their web site) are the perfect solution to avoiding the harmful ingredients that tend to be found in typical bug repellent sprays and lotions.

~ SPF Swim Shirts and Rash Guards. These are not new to the market, but for those of you who despise lathering up your kids with sunscreen as much as I do, these are great options. Plus kids love them!

~ Beach Tents. Another item that has been around for years, but one that I could not have lived without the first summers for my babies (see picture above). Yes, tents can be a little bit of a nuisance to set up, but if you are planning on a full day in the sun, there really is no other option for the little ones. And you don’t have to get the typical beach tent – you can even bring a fun princess play castle. Whatever works!

~ Mosquito-free yards. There are two great companies in the Triad who will rid your yard of mosquitos all summer long with their child-and-pet-friendly products such as Mosquito Authority of the Triad (now offering first-time customers an initial spray for just $45) and Mosquito Squad of the Triad. Once you try these services, you’ll wonder how you lived without!

Other Safety Tips
Click here to see a post featuring other ways you can stay safe on the beach, including how to avoid jellyfish stings, riptides and surfboard injuries, among other “natural” disasters.

What other tips, tricks and product suggestions can you add to my list?