However, a newbie school mom, roughly translated, also means that I have NO idea about:
1) Parking lot etiquette. Do I smile at the other parents? A polite nod hello? Or do I rush up and introduce myself, apologizing in advance if Ryder pinches their darling little girl?
2) Teacher etiquette. K, some of these ladies look like gals I’d like to hang with. Do I tell them, “Call me Lena, please” – and ask the French teacher where she got her highlights? Or do I solemnly nod and keep it totally professional?
3) Snack etiquette. Ryder likes to nosh on strips of raw green pepper, sliced pickles and radishes. Would I be messing with his social life if I sent along his favourite snack foods? Perhaps I should stick to grapes and Goldfish Crackers?
(It’s plain to see that I have a lot of questions around etiquette. Yes, I tend to be overly concerned about what others think. Hopefully as Ryder settles in, so will his Mommy.)
One of the things this newbie school mom is incredibly thankful for: the school’s “Backpack Essentials” list. It allows me to ensure I’ve sent Ryder to school prepared and ready to
get to work sit in the circle and play with pom poms. The list was fairly straight forward – a snack, outdoor shoes, etc – but I was quite surprised to see this:
“A bottle of sunscreen and a hat for outdoors.”
I mean, WOW – it never would’ve occurred to me in a million years to send (or apply) sunscreen before and during school. I equate sunscreen with summertime, not school days! And besides, don’t children spend most of their time indoors?
Turns out, yes, they do spend a lot of time indoors, but when they are outside – especially during lunch/recess breaks – they happen to be outdoors at the time when UV rays are at their strongest. With the temperature still hovering around 30°C with the humidity in Toronto, I don’t have to tell you that an unprotected child can burn in less than 15 minutes. In fact, children are exposed to UV rays all year round (even in winter when it’s freezing cold outside). Hence, even though the kids have traded swimming trunks for school threads, sun protection must be at the forefront of safe outdoor play – which includes school yard fun, too.
And here’s a scary little bit of information: It’s no secret that the skin of babies and young children is sensitive and vulnerable to the sun’s rays. The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends keeping young children out of direct sunlight between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are most intense.
REALITY: Almost all of the time spent outdoors for children attending school is between these peak UV hours.
So what can you do? Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen designed specially for babies or young children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 60, and make sure it’s waterproof, hypo-allergic and non-irritating. Many sunscreens come in a variety of formats to choose from: whipped mousse, continuous spray or lotion.
To get the most out of your sunscreen, apply it 30 minutes before going outside so it is fully absorbed by the skin. Make it part of your morning ritual with the kids – before the shoes go on, protect their skin from the sun. Apply liberally, and don’t forget to apply to the ears, nose, and all other areas that are vulnerable to UV rays.
Finally, send along another bottle of sunscreen for reapplication before lunch/final recess if your child’s school permits it. Show your child how to apply the product (I suggest using the lotion – unless you want them to make mousse cakes or trigger the spray until it’s over) – or, if they’re younger, ask if their teacher will help apply it before sun exposure.
Ryder is only in school half days this year, so I’ve decided to give him a generous coat of sunscreen before we leave for school, and leave it at that. I’m really, really glad it was on the “what to pack” list – had I not seen it, it likely would have never crossed my mind.
Tell me: Do you protect your child with sunscreen before/during school?