With the looooong winter we've endured to varying degrees across the country, many of us are chomping at the bit to participate in the joys of warmer weather. This weekend, we're going to prepare ourselves to pounce when that first warm weekend weather visits us.
Even if we can't quite put our coats away because of too many false alarms, we're going to ready our summer bags so they're grab-and-go (and we don't have to waste one minute of that summer sunshine).
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This Weekend's Assignment:
Pack a summer bag.
Pick a bag
Chances are, you have plenty of canvas or beach-y bags somewhere around the house. Find one, or treat yourself to something fresh. I'm on a no-shopping year, but if I were in the market for a new beach bag, I'd go for this can't-go-wrong, goes-with-everything budget mesh beach bag (in black), this classic straw tote, or this beautiful waterproof bag.
The idea is that all your must-have summer gear will live here so that it's all together and you always know where it is. Make sure it's big enough for the family.
Gather your supplies
Beach days or summer hikes may require particular gear, but for our summer bags, we're going to pack the stuff you'll need for most any summer picnic, pool party, or outing.
- Sunscreen: Sunscreen these days isn't as straightforward as it used to be. Wirecutter chose this Coppertone lotion as their top pick, but if you prefer a spray or stick application, the Environmental Working Group has excellent reviews on safe sunscreen products. Keep in mind that you may want separate sunscreens for your face or your children. For instance, I find that a sunscreen stick — this one is top-rated by EWG — is much easier to apply to my kids' faces than my lotion. Take stock of what you have from last year, making sure that it hasn't expired, and fill in where you need to.
- Bug spray: Again, each of us will have different priorities when it comes to bug spray, but especially in certain parts of the country, bug spray is a summer necessity. Make sure you're stocked up on your favorite kind — Skin So Soft is a classic — and that it's in your bag so you aren't stuck somewhere, defense-less, being swarmed by blood-suckers.
- Hats: Sunhats offer exceptional protection from the sun's harmful rays and you should make sure to have one for each member of the family. Wide-brim options offer the most protection, and keep in mind that, often, the nicer quality hat, the more comfortable it is — and the more likely it is to get used without being taken off. I invested in a packable straw hat last year. It has an adjustable internal drawstring, I can pack it up without it getting ruined, and I love how it looks.
Having your summer bag packed this weekend will allow you to take full advantage of warm temperatures without the mental hurdle of getting ready to safely enjoy the finally sunny great outdoors.
Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we've sent you, or tackle another project you've been meaning to get to. It's also completely okay to skip a weekend if you're busy or not feeling the assignment.