What’s that strange glowing ball in the sky? Ireland has lately been graced by the sunshine, the heat, something that actually resembles a summer. While we’re being told by meteorologists (who may know a thing or two about weather) that we aren’t actually going through a heatwave (apparently that’s FIVE consecutive days of temperatures over 25 degrees), it’s undeniable that we are getting to enjoy some rather lovely sunshine. People are smiling, sales of ice creams are going through the roof. Snapchats are being sent left right and centre with temperature filters over them, and people are baring a whole lot more skin than they have in months. Aside from the glow in the sky, we’re also facing the glow of pale Irish skin in the sunlight. This means it’s time to ensure that skin is being looked after from the potentially harmful UV rays. Being sun safe is something often neglected by us here in Ireland – especially when we’re still at home, not off on holidays elsewhere.
You know it as well as I do, the first sign of an Irish summer is the sight of red baked skin wandering around – people getting caught unawares and getting a colour – lobster red – from sunburn. It seems to be a cultural thing of discarding the information we all know about the damage that the sun can do to our skin and our health overall when the heat happens. While it’s something all adults need to be conscious of – skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, with over 10,000 cases being seen by doctors each year – more so it is important to ensure that our kids are safe from the sun as we enjoy the summer days. Here are some tips to ensure that your kids (and you) are protected while enjoying the rare Irish Summer – it’s not just about being protected when off on holidays!
The very basic first step – ensure that you and your kids are wearing sunscreen that has a high enough SPF – yes, it’s important to make sure your kids do get Vitamin D, I’m not saying keep them in out of the sun, just ensure that they are protected WHILE absorbing it! I’ve tried a couple of different types, with my favourite at the moment being the travel sized bottles of NIVEA for Kids 50+ (for both me and him – it’s not just the kids who have sensitive skin) which are often on offer in places like Boots and Sam McCauleys, and some smaller pharmacies. For those with more sensitive skin who may have allergies that come out when the sun comes around, there are options available from companies like Eucerin , Soltan and Piz Buin. These are becoming much more plentiful as the years go by which is pushing the price down ensuring they become affordable for all!
Make sure to top up that sunscreen – and that you top it up on EVERYONE, not just on the kids. I have been that soldier, ensuring the child is coated in the stuff but winding up rocking my best lobster impersonation because I’ve forgotten to top up my own and gotten caught out. Reapply every few hours, especially if you’ve been swimming or in contact with water to ensure skin safety.
Yes, it’s roasting out. Yes, all you want to do is run around wearing as little as socially acceptable in order to deal with THE HEAT. However, in order to mind your skin and keep it sun safe, it’s important to ensure that you’re covered up in the right places! Wearing hats and t-shirts that cover the shoulders are easy ways to prevent damage to more sensitive parts of the body – the difficult part is getting small kids to leave on their hats in my experience! What I’ve found works a bit better is getting a hat which they pick out themselves – in our case it was aÂ Paw Patrol fisherman style hat which he is happy to wear, so it stays on a bit more of the time. For smaller kids, bonnet type hats may work best, ones that tie under the chin so they can’t get them off easily.
Keep an eye on the UV Index
The UV IndexÂ tells us the level of UV radiation that is expected at the earth’s surface. It is a scale that runs from zero upwards. UV rays differ in strength at different times of the day and in different weathers – even when the sun isn’t beaming out in a cloudless sky, there can still be quite high UV levels and therefore a risk to skin health present. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the UV Index – you can check it out here – or to use products like these beads reviewed by parenting blogger My Little Babog to keep aware of the high risk times to ensure you and your kids are sun safe.
Time is of the Essence
Yes, I know that this sunshine thing is a limited commodity in Ireland, however it’s a good idea to choose your timing of enjoying it a little bit more carefully. The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm, which means that the UV rays are much stronger at these times. Sun experts do say to avoid being outside during these hours, but since that’s not always practical, it’s important to try to stay in the shade as much as possible during these times, ensure the suncream is topped up regularly and the hat rule is enforced with the kids more than at other times. For sun safe fun, try to move playground trips to earlier in the morning or later in the evening, shoehorn some continental siesta naps in during the hotter hours if your kids are game (the sun and the heat may make them more tired or tetchy than normal!), and make the most of shady areas for lunch times and picnics – what’s that, a picnic under the trees in the park? Sounds like a plan to me!
A personal battle of mine when E was smaller was with the buggy in the sunshine. I thought a summer maternity leave was going to be the BEST THING EVER, but I spent much of the sunny weather battling a parasol, something which I have in my head renamed StupidestInventionInTheUniverse (trademark pending). Once I’d gotten the bloody thing in position and to finally stop moving, a hellish ordeal in itself, the sun had the audacity to move, prompting me at one point to have a minor meltdown at the side of the road announcing that I HATED the sunshine and was almost willing it to rain, as I never had such issues with the rain cover. The following year, I was far more prepared, having gotten some great advice from other parents who had similar issues with the bloody parasol. I picked up one of these amazing sun covers which made all the difference. They don’t move, the child can see out through them while being protected and not being blinded – sheer brilliance, and not breaking the bank. There are other brands which were recommended too, but this is the one that worked for me. It’s really important when you have very small babies to ensure they’re in the shade the vast majority of the time, so in the interests of staying sun safe and absolutely sane, these sun covers are brilliant.
As well as adding a sense of mystery to your look, sunglasses will ensure you are sun safe. They protect your eyes from the harmful rays, and ensure that you’re not wandering around in a permanent squint during the gorgeous sunny weather. There are a variety of fun styles which will appeal to kids, and may be easier to get them to keep on than the sun hat – especially if everyone else is wearing them too. Keep an eye out for the UV protection marks on them to ensure they are actually doing what they’re meant to do and not just “looking cool”. There is normally a sticker on one eye letting you know what level of protection they offer.
After all these things, it’s important to make one last point!
Enjoy the Sunshine
In our little country, it’s a rare sight – so do make the most of it. Take all of the precautions and be sun safe, but definitely head out on lovely days out, and enjoy getting your Vitamin D in – there are enough rainy overcast days ahead to be spent inside, cleaning the house and getting all the tedious chores done – enjoy the sun while it lasts! It’s good for the soul!
Got any other sun safe tips? Let me know in the comments below!
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