Holy hotness! It comes so quick every year. Those 100 degree days can seem BRUTAL. Going outside at all seems so unappealing but here is the alternative if you stay inside... that house you just cleaned? It will get messy again. Enough incentive? Let's get the kids outside while staying SAFE in the heat!
A go-to spot for this is going to be one of the valley's many, MANY splash pads! A haven in the desert for kids this time of year as sitting in their living rooms get them stir crazy. You can take them somewhere with vitamin D, social interaction, entertainment and an effective way to cool them off all at the same time.
I love that they are typically located within parks too. You end up with access to a full day of fun if they don't pass out for a nap after a couple hours. (Really my little one can only last about 30 minutes at a splash pad so far!) Park, to picnic, to splash pad! A summer day full of memories.
That being said, there are SO many ways a trip to a splash pad can be unsuccessful. Nothing like spending an hour preparing for something to get 20 minutes of time out of it. While kids always have something that can come up, there are still some "smart mom" moves you can do to give yourself a fighting chance on an easy day of play!
1. Be "playtime ready" on arrival.
Playtime ready? I mean they should be able to bust out of the car and hit the pad- or whatever activity you have prepared. Sunscreen at home! This is important for a couple reasons. 1, you're less likely to be coerced by your child to skip if you aren't keeping them from the fun they can lay their eyes on. 2, it needs to soak in really well before getting wet.
In addition to sunscreen, make sure they have swimmies on! Swim diapers on, bathing suits under some easy-to-shed coverups, hats in hand ready to put on! (Ya know, if you can get them to wear that sort of thing.) Hat habits are VERY beneficial in Arizona and it's never too early to teach them to protect their skin.
2. Clothing should be UPF.
Don't just throw a t-shirt on them if you know they are going to be in direct sunlight for a while. Put them in some UPF clothing made to guard them from the sun's rays! In fact, you should probably have some too... Great for hikers.
3. Appropriate shoes for kiddo running on wet surface.
As tempting as it is to throw on their favorite sandals for the pad, do a watercheck first! Will the fabric withstand being stretched in water? What are the soles made of? Will their feet stay instead while running or move around and create blisters?
A trip to the splash pad ends quick when a kid slips in their own shoes and busts their face on the concrete.
4. Shoes that assume you'll get wet.
Hello, world star parent. You're going to get wet too. Create memories with your kids and don't stand so far back you can't interact or aren't willing to show them how something works.
*This is especially true for those new walkers.*
5. Bring your own (labeled) toys.
Yes the splash pad has towers and water shooters but they don't have little knick knacks to throw into the water! Bring their favorite pool or bathtime toys to the splash pad so they are tempted to enjoy the water longer and use their imagination a bit... just make sure they are labeled. Kids love to grab the toys ( and sharing is important) but it's nice to have a leg to stand on when trying to get back a toy back from a stranger,
6. Bring a bucket.
Amongst your toys, you must have a bucket! Kids LOVE buckets. They just do. A million uses and hours of entertainment. Water dumping games, mud making, rock collecting, a basket for toys, a silly hat and more! Always have a bucket for all varieties of play.
*tip, they have collapsible ones on Amazon so you can just keep one in your trunk at all times.*
7. Be prepared for detours.
Detours? These are the unforeseen things that happen once you're already there. The random aversion to water. The temperatures not right. Too many kids not their age. etc. Have a back up plan!
Maybe a snack break? A small water game they can do on the side with a *bucket* of water. Some separate sensory play you can do just off of the pad in some grass. Or even just explore a different part of the park and offer to go back later. Don't force the trip if you want them to have a positive association with the pad!
8. Bring snacks that won't get soggy.
For your snack break, and just assume they will want one. Number one reason we leave somewhere is to get someone food- whether that be my little one or ME!
Bring snacks that will survive being near water. Fruit is GREAT for this. A small lunch cooler is the way the go for packing. Keep the packaging down to a minimum and bring cloth napkins for hands, NOT PAPER!
9. Extra water- here's why!
Did you know being around water actually dehydrates you?? Water will leach more water out from your skin. Plus at a splash pad all that sweat mixes in with the playtime water and it can be hard to keep track of just how hot you are!
Stop your kids. Asking them to take a 30 second water break if they don't stop naturally every so often. You can even make it a game. To switch out a toy, one drink of water. Before you towel off, water. Etc!
Bring their water bottle but also expect to fill it up with that extra water.
10. Dry clothes for the car and an extra towel.
It seems like a no brainer but it's funny how that is often what is forgotten. Don't forget a towel to dry off with but also I urge you to bring a towel to sit on or a blanket. It's nice to have something to throw over a hot concrete bench or on the grass.
Of course you'll also need that change of clothes for the car ride home or any other adventures you may have planned for that park too! Think about easy when packing clothes to change into. Wet clothes are hard to peel off of kids and putting clothes on a child with any wetness still left on them seems impossible.
One pieces like dresses or rompers for little boys are great for the "after." Other easy alternatives are loose t shirts and skirts or sports shorts.
Summer is quickly arriving and in Arizona you have to beat the heat! Stay safe but also, stay active this summer. Memories aren't made in dark air conditioned caves (a typically summer AZ home) they are made in the sunshine.
What are some of your favorite spots in the summer? DM me on Instagram and I'll check it out!