I prep for our summer break every year.
And every single year, what I inevitably forget to factor in is the simple fact that summer, and all of its heat, bugs, smells and then, even hotter heat, overwhelms my children with sensory processing disorder in ways that make even the most exciting and fun activity a disaster.
But not this time.
This year, I came to play.
This year, I put together a list of my best tips and tricks to help my kiddo survive, and actually thrive a little, in the summer heat.
Summer Sensory Hacks For Kids
A sweet reader recommended this a few months ago and it has changed our lives. I now keep a supply of soft towels in the freezer. On really hot days, I grab a couple and give them to my boys as they get into the hot car. They can wrap up in them, put them over their heads, sit on them – anything they need to stay cool.
Seriously, never, ever leave home without one in the summer. The ice alone can be enough to calm down an overloaded child. Add water bottles and a few favorite drinks and my kids are good to go.
Nothing is as daunting in the summer (or even at playgrounds in the winter for that matter) as sand. Sand in the shoes, the feeling of sand on the feet, sand in all the wrong places under the swim trunks – sand is our summer nemesis. We used to just avoid the beach, but as my sons have gotten older, they have been better able to at least try. Here’s my secret to success with sand – I always, always, always take baby powder with me. Yes, baby powder. Wiping sand away with a towel can scratch sensitive skin and usually makes my sons even more agitated. But generously sprinkle baby powder on the sandy parts, and it falls away. Best summer hack ever.
The only thing worse than the feeling of sticky sunscreen for my sensory kiddos is the sensory torture of a sunburn. You may have to experiment a bit to find the sunscreen that works best for your children – and once you do, stock up. We have never been able to use spray sunscreen. But the creamy, sensitive sunscreen typically for faces, works well for both of my children all over their bodies.
When it’s just too hot to handle, we love to hang out at home for the day, in the air conditioning and then venture out to our friend’s pool at night. The kids sleep well, I call it a bath, and everyone’s happy.
Short, Sweet and Easy
Above all, I try to plan the activities that I think are going to bring us a certain level of success. I would never take my boys on a hike in the middle of the day, but a short trip to the park may work. I accept that we may need to cut our time short if it is just too warm and too much. Short, sweet and easy is my summer motto.
I know we still have a whole lotta summer to go.
But I have found that being intentional, and accepting the realities of sensory overload in the summer have made life so much easier (and our summer so much more fun).
What are your best sensory hacks for summer?
Please share. Hopefully, we can all figure this out together!