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By NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health
You bring us festivals and beach days, gardening and bike rides, picnics and fireflies.
You also bring us insect bites, sunburn, poison ivy rashes and heat exhaustion.
For all its good, summer also has its pitfalls, some more serious than others.
Plan now to make this summer fun, safe and memorable for everyone in your family. Here are four tips to get started:
Longer, warmer days offer a great opportunity to tweak your usual routine. Kick off the season by penciling in time for outdoor fitness, have dinner outside or take a family walk in the evening.
One caveat: Make sure you maintain important parts of your kids’ routine, such as regular waking and bedtimes, consistent mealtimes and a balance between daily chores and downtime.
“Kids thrive on familiar routines. It helps them feel secure,” said Shilpa Shankar, MD, a pediatrician with NorthShore University HealthSystem. “Adding fun new activities to the day is a great idea but be sure to keep things like sleep and mealtimes on a predictable schedule.”
Make the most of warm summer days and plan to cut back screen time. Talk to your kids about how much time they spend online and craft a plan that builds in breaks. Set screen-free hours and device-free zones in the home (e.g., no cell phones at the dinner table).
Bring out the board games and have a family game night. Pick a book to read together as a family and discuss. Schedule time to exercise together.
Or try combining a show with a hands-on activity. For example, if your child enjoys watching cooking shows, watch a few together and plan a family cooking night based on what you saw.
Turn off all devices 30 minutes before bedtime, then leave devices in another room to charge when you go to bed.
Making dinner together can be fun — and educational! Pre-cookout prep and smart food handling can prevent a lot of problems (such as food poisoning).
Always wash your hands before/after cooking. Bring a cooler if you’re on a picnic, don’t leave food sitting out for more than an hour, and use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked properly. Also, children should be closely supervised around fires and hot barbecues.
There are countless ways to get active in the summer, from youth athletic camps to a family bike ride on local trails to exploring a new park every week. Head to the local pool and swim some laps. Better yet, bring the kids and try relay races or water volleyball. Have the kids join you for jump rope or a game of frisbee.
“Summer is the perfect time to start an exercise routine,” said Diala Alatassi, MD, an internal medicine physician with Edward-Elmhurst Medical Group. “If you form a fitness habit now, that routine will hopefully continue on in the fall and winter months and become a regular part of your day.”
Summer safety checklist
Before you head outside, run through this safety checklist:
With hundreds of board-certified physicians to choose from, you’re likely to find the perfect doctor for you close by. Find a doctor at NorthShore University HealthSystem.
Need care now? Our board-certified providers ready to treat your non-emergency urgencies. Find an immediate care location near you.