Fourth of July, a time to celebrate our country, all it represents, and the freedom we have! There are a plethora of activities one can partake to celebrate this wonderful holiday…usually surrounding a grill, alcohol, and the lighting small explosives. But once kids enter the picture, things change. In order to both survive AND enjoy the night…here are a few tips I’ve gleaned over the past few years as a parent.
– bring sunscreen and apply liberally. This ensures the days after The Fourth are not spent in misery. Although you should also bring a large set of tongs or a leash…as once the sunscreen is on them, they become more slippery than a sea slug out of water.
– bring lots of water. I don’t care if it’s cloudy, breezy, whatever. Keep yourself and especially your kids hydrated. We like to add squirts of a flavor to get our kids to drink more (like Milo, or kool aid or something like that) not a lot, just enough to entice them.
– Don’t pay a lot for the fun events. Why? Because, the overstimulation of crowds, loud music, overdose on sugar and hot dogs, and gun fire sounding fireworks for some reason can cause a meltdown. Got me as to why, but we’ve had years where I’ll lead a screaming kid out of the park…freaked out and panicking. It’s never who you think either. The risk taker, the oldest, they all have done it. So don’t be that parent grumbling and angry because they just spent 40 dollars to go see fireworks and the bounce toys and didn’t get to enjoy it. It’s at least a little easier to be the understanding parent if you didn’t drop a bunch of money to get there. Free is best. It could look like a fairy was spitting in the sky and little kids will be impressed so don’t pay for the big stuff until they’re older.
– Connected with the previous point…plan on mishaps and go with the flow. Do NOT have your heart set on any specific event. Plan a smattering of things, have back up plans available. For example, pick a fun place to go for fireworks, but also have a plan for if kids start freaking out. Like sitting in your car on the side of the road watching them from afar while eating pints of Ben and Jerry’s you bought at the gas station on the corner.
– Bring ear plugs for the fireworks. Who doesn’t love fireworks on The Fourth? Our oldest loves to watch the fireworks. But for the first few years she would start screaming and would be inconsolable until we left. I may or may not have been that parent grumbling as we left the park, with my oldest shrieking and my toddler giggling. We figured out it was the noise. It freaked her out. Ear plugs did the trick. Now that she’s older it’s not a problem but it saved us a lot of hassle the past few years.
– Have a DD (Designated Driver) Sir Smiley and I aren’t big drinkers. But some people are. Whatever, not here to judge. But I will totally get all Judgey McJudgerson on you if I find out you were drinking and driving. Big key thing to remember, you won’t know your impaired. The first things to be affected by alcohol are your reaction time and judgement. These are two things that are hard to see or notice unless put in a stressful situation. So even if you’ve only had a few, don’t drive. Drag along that preggers friend and make her drive…or take a cab…or a bus…or walk…or sleep it off at a park (which might get you busted for other things…but at least you won’t run the risk of killing anyone). So I hope I made a point. Don’t drink and drive or I’ll hunt you down…and do something to you. Not sure what but I can be fairly creative, so consider yourself warned.
– Do something with your kids to teach them about what we’re actually celebrating. It’s not about hot dogs, burgers, ice cream, parades, or fireworks. So do something to talk about the history of our country, what our rights are, or what the Declaration of Independence meant.
I wish you all a Happy Fourth of July!