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Sunning it with your kids… without tanning

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

5 Ways to get outdoors without the sun

When “pale is the new tan” is your mantra, how can you make sure your kids get enough sunshine and Vitamin D if you’re always the parent under the wide-brim hat and slathered in sunscreen?

If you’re the parent who fears your own child is being too exposed to the harsh sun, here are five fun ways to enjoy fresh air without worrying about UV rays.

You've read the research and know that the sun's harmful UV rays aren't good for your kid's skin (or yours!). But it's still important for kids to get a little extra sunshine for the important Vitamin D it provides (and the fresh air that comes with being outside too!). So how do you allow your kids to enjoy the fresh air and still avoid the sun?

Learn how to encourage outdoor play >>

These ideas for planning outdoor activities for your kids will help.

Play tag... at dusk

Your kids will think you're awesome when you suggest flashlight tag. "When the boys were younger, they spent many evenings playing flashlight tag outside," suggests Julie Rains, a writer/blogger for Wise Bread.

Since it's generally recommended that people avoid sunshine between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is directly overhead and UV rays are at their strongest, evening activities like this are a great idea.

Have a castle contest

Break out the giant beach umbrella and sand toys — it's time for a sand castle building contest. Bring along a good beach umbrella so everyone can build and create in the shade. The contest also has another benefit: it's great bonding time for the family too!

The Orange & Red Beach Umbrella at World Market sticks right into the sand to provide perfect sun protection for building castles. It comes with a matching carry bag and retails for about $15.

Hike through the woods

Hiking can be so exhilarating. But it can also be taxing when the hot sun is beating down on you. Instead, choose wooded trails with good shade canopies. You and your kids can enjoy nature without worrying about UV rays. But still, don't forget the sunscreen.

"Some walking and hiking trails have a natural forest canopy that naturally protects you from sun exposure. Also, you can find shade trees or shaded areas to sit and relax, or play a game," says Rains.

Choose protective clothing

That wide-brimmed hat is a smart choice. So is clothing with UV protection. Swimming rash guard shirts provide UV protection without making kids hot on warm summer days. They're good for the beach, pool, waterpark and the playground too.

Try the Tuga Girls' Off Short rash guard, which has 50 SPF protection fabric and blocks more than 97 percent of UV rays. It retails for about $31.

Play ball

Get all the neighborhood families together for a softball game. It's great exercise and the kids will love that everyone — moms, dads and kids — play together. To make sure it's sun-safe though, don't forget to take water breaks and wear hats. Also, sunscreen is still important. Lather on sunscreens with higher SPFs (at least SPF 30!) and remember to reapply if you're out playing for more than a few hours.

See a complete sunscreen guide for summer >>

More on outdoor activities for kids

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Outdoor safety tips for summer
7 Kid-friendly outdoor activities

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