Here are some tips we've picked up through the years that will help make houseboating easier and more fun for the kids onboard!
1. Nothing’s better than a popsicle on a hot summer day. But it can create quite the sticky mess on the deck. Before handing out the cold treats to the kids, gently push the stick through a cupcake liner so that it creates a bowl around the bottom to catch the drippings that don’t make it into the mouth. Kids happy, top deck clean. It’s a win-win.
2. Sunburns and boating can go hand in hand. While sunscreen, especially for young ones, is always recommended, there is a home treatment that can save your little ones some pain from that accidental sunburn. Gather a pitcher, a rag that you don’t mind getting stained, water and three bags of black tea (Earl Grey works great). Fill the pitcher with warm water and soak the tea bags in it until the water is almost black. Once the water has cooled to a warm/lukewarm temperature, have your child stand in the bathtub/shower so that you can contain the mess. Make sure the water is cooled as pouring hot water onto sunburned skin WILL make it worse. Dunk the rag into the tea, and dab it onto the sunburn. Don’t wipe the tea off, instead leave it on and let it be absorbed into the skin. Once the first coat is dry, re-apply as necessary. Try this right before bedtime, so your child can sleep with the tea absorbing into his skin. In the morning, your child can wash it off in the bath and will hopefully be feeling better. Apply the tea the day the burn occurs in order for this method to be most effective.
3. Souvenirs can be a fun way for the kids to remember your boating excursion. Some will be planned on, like the brand new swimsuit from the marina shop, others not so much, like the seaweed that got trapped in the swimsuit and then was thrown into the washing machine. But a fun, easy way to remember every trip is to pick up a pack of clear glass bulb ornaments (www.hobbylobby.com/ 4 packs for $7.99) and fill them about halfway up with sand, small shells and pebbles from each of the beaches and lakes you visit. Use your excellent handwriting skills and a marker to write the origins of contents of the bulb and viola! A brand new Christmas ornament that makes a perfect addition to the tree and a lasting memory that can be passed down to the next generation.
4. Let your kids roll around in the sand even if you don’t have access to a shower. Just bring the baby powder. When everyone is done playing, dry off as much as possible and shake the excess sand from everywhere sand tends to gather. Place a small amount of baby powder in your hand and rub into you child’s skin. Baby powder will quickly absorb the moisture and sand will simply fall away. You can even apply a sprinkle of the powder to shoes or sandals to remove the sand from those items as well.
5. Next time you visit a rocky beach, pick up 26 quarter-size pebbles, preferably flat on at least one side. Have the kids paint them which can be a fun way to spend a rainy day inside the houseboat. Once they have dried, use a marker to write the letters of the alphabet on each one. You’ve just created an easily stored puzzle that the kids can pull out and put in order anytime they want. If a piece is lost, send junior out to grab another rock instead of having to throw the whole thing away. Heck, throw in 10 more rocks and add numbers so the kiddos can master both while you are cruising through the open water.