Summer is here– are you excited for fun family time or afraid of the chaos? For most parents, it is both. Many summer activities are active and exciting, but it is important to keep safety in mind. We have put together some tips to help you have a fun-filled summer in a safe, less-chaotic way.
1) Set household expectations.
What are your rules for screen time? How about bedtime and wake-up time? You can set clear expectations while giving your kids plenty of rest and downtime.
Many kids will get more screen time during the summer, but they still have limits and don’t get screen time until chores and other obligations are complete. Monitoring children’s media used to be hard– but the website Common Sense Media can help. It’s the ultimate parental crib-notes on media. That way you don’t have to watch/read/play everything your kids consume before they do. Common Sense Media collaborates with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Sleeping in is part of summer, but too much sleep makes a household cranky and off-schedule. If they get too off-schedule, talk to your pediatricians about using melatonin to help regulate children’s sleep. Also, check out 10 tips for finding your child’s sleep routine. This is especially helpful when heading back to school.
Sibling squabbles and fighting flare in the summer as families spend more time together. Good news: no-yell, no-spank discipline is possible. Clearly defined house rules help families stay happier. They also teach children life skills that will help them in school, the workplace, and their adult lives. Here is an example of a list of house rules — what are yours?
2) Make sure you have properly fitted safety gear.
All summer long, children end up in the pediatric emergency room with preventable injuries. Avoid the ER and spend your co-pay on something more fun by following these 10 easy parenting tips to keep your kids out of the ER this summer. Then come to one of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Safety Stop locations to make sure your child has an appropriately fitted bicycle helmet and properly installed car seat.
3) Swim safely.
How much poop is in your pool water? Can you put sunscreen on a baby? What SPF is that t-shirt, anyway? What’s the best way to prevent drowning? Which natural mosquito repellents really work? Our docs have research-based answers to all these questions.
4) Pick your healthcare providers before the emergency happens.
What’s your pediatrician’s phone number, and is it saved in your cell phone contact list? Pick a preferred hospital for your children and add that to your contact list. Our Washington University Children’s After Hours locations provide convenient medical care for your child’s illnesses and injuries. And it’s a faster alternative to ERs when your pediatrician’s office is closed.
In case of a medical emergency with a child, determine where the nearest accredited Level I pediatric trauma center is located. St. Louis Children’s Hospital has six pediatric ER locations across the St. Louis and southern Illinois region. These include St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital Belleville, Memorial Hospital Shiloh, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Northwest HealthCare, and Progress West Hospital.
5) Update prescriptions before you head off for vacation or camp.
Every summer, the ER fills up with kids on vacation, often because they left home without their regular medications. Make sure to have all prescriptions – especially inhalers and EpiPens – up to date and ready to go before you go out of town or send a child to camp. Usually, this only takes a phone call to your pediatrician. Then check out our 5 tips to avoid the ER during your summer get-away, and don’t leave home without the essential parent first-aid kit.
6) Now is the time to schedule check-ups, elective procedures, and other medical appointments.
Are you overdue for an allergy appointment? Need to get immunizations up-to-date? Consider scheduling now while you don’t have to pull kids out of school and your schedule is more flexible.