But whilst considering the welfare of the children, let the mother also take full advantage of her holiday by the sea. Household responsibilities should be considerably reduced; and freed from social duties, if she is wise, the domesticated woman has the opportunity to relax and obtain the restful holiday she requires. If women would only determine to throw off, during their holiday time at least, the little cares and responsibilities which are apt to weigh so heavily, they would get at least twice the advantage out of the summer holiday.
Let her make definite arrangements for the well-being of the children, plan out their meals, and their day's doings, and then try to eliminate further worry from her consciousness. If she has to be with the children, let her teach them to play happily by themselves, and let them understand that they must not be constantly calling upon their mother to do for them what they are quite able to do themselves.
As for the busy people, the strenuous workers, the men and women and girls who are more or less on the strain all the year round, they must absorb every moment the health and beauty and pleasure of life by the sea. There is the delight of the early morning on the beach, when the air is fresh and cool, and the noisy racket of the sands has not begun. There are the long, delicious mornings, with a swim at eleven o'clock, and a round of golf or a game of tennis to prevent the self-reproach of laziness.
Those who are wise rest in the afternoon, and reserve themselves for more energetic pastimes in the evening, thus avoiding the pitfalls of overstrain and fatigue, which go far to make many holidays a failure. And if, toward the end of the time, one gets a little bored with rest and loafing, remember that that is the best sign that the holiday has been a good one from the health point of view. It is when resting that new energy is built up, energy that is so precious to the worker who has heavy work to meet.
During the last week one ought to be able to do far more than at first, and enjoy it, too; and the right thing is to reserve sight-seeing and excursions for the latter half of the holiday. It is then that one can enjoy rowing exercise, which would only have over-fatigued and depressed a week or two ago. Walking exercise also can be planned out for the latter part of the holiday, for there is no exercise better than walking for getting rid of waste substances from the blood.
Avoid over-taxing the digestion. People are too apt to think that they will improve their health if they try to eat as much as they can. But this idea is responsible for a great deal of discomfort, ill-health, and disappointment on holidays. Vegetarianism has much to recommend it, and whether one is resting by the sea or taking exercise, walking, hill climbing, cycling, or playing games, light diet should invariably be chosen and simple meals indulged in.
The saline particles in the atmosphere, which are tonic to the respiratory passages, make sea air particularly suitable for children subject to adenoids, catarrhs, and frequent colds in the head. On the other hand, the child subject to bronchitis or asthma will do far better in a high inland place where the air is dry. The very nervy child, also, often does better in a bracing country place than by the sea; and many eye conditions, such as blepharitis, are apt to be irritated by the sand particles.
A few practical hints as to the avoidance of seaside dangers, and the treatment of various accidents when they arise, will prove useful to mothers who do not realise the risks their children run whilst playing on the beach.
1. Inflammation of the Eyes. The danger of sand throwing must be recognised, as the particles of sand have a very irritating effect upon the eyes, and may cause the commencement of severe inflammation. The friction of sand particles against the eyes on a windy morning may also have the same effect. The glare of the hot sun will in itself produce irritation if children have weak sight. When this occurs, the eyes should be bathed twice or three times daily with warm boracic lotion. A teaspoonful of boracic powder is added to the breakfastcupful of water. Clean cotton-wool should be used to bathe the eyes and afterwards burnt. The child should wear a broad-brimmed, shady hat, and even dark glasses.
2. Sand in the Mouth. It is important, too, that very young children, from eighteen months onwards, should be carefully watched, so that they get no sand in their mouths. A shawl should be spread for a child to crawl on, or he is likely to put into his mouth anything he sees, especially if glittering and wet. If a child has anything given him to eat while on the beach, watch that he does not lay it on sand, and then eat it, with a liberal sprinkling of the grit. Dangerous internal inflammation may be set up.
Children sometimes put stones in their mouths and ears. They need careful watching, and it is quite erroneous to think they can come to no harm while playing on a nice flat sandy beach.
3. Jelly-fish stings are apt to occur if the children are wading or bathing in the sea. They should be attended to at once. They may be bathed in hot water to which some liquid ammonia has been added, perhaps a dessertspoonful to a pint; whilst another very useful and soothing remedy is made by mixing bicarbonate of soda and spirit of sal volatile into a paste, and applying this to the place. Sometimes a young child surfers a good deal from shock after being stung by a jelly-fish, in which case it is necessary to keep the child warm by means of hot bottles, and give him hot milk to drink.
4. Insect stings and bites may occur in the country as at the sea, and have even caused severe symptoms, if the child has a sensitive skin and the bite is not attended to. Any sting should be relieved by first squeezing it out with a watch-key, and then applying liquid ammonia, or even a little whisky or eau-de-cologne, if ammonia is not at hand. The blue-bag is another useful domestic remedy.
Midge bites are often extremely annoying to young children, and a very good preventive is to rub a little eucalyptus oil on the skin of the neck, where bites cause a good deal of irritation.
5. Sunburn can hardly be termed a danger, but the child's skin may be burned to an uncomfortable degree unless one or two precautions are taken. When coming in from the hot sun, a little boracic ointment or vaseline should be rubbed into the skin; but vaseline should never be applied before going out of doors. Simple buttermilk rubbed into the skin is an excellent precaution, and soothing also in the case both of children and adults.
6. Heat Fag. The subject of heat fag has been considered under "Holiday Dangers " (page 2297), but a few special points with regard to children may be mentioned here. Frequent sponging with lukewarm water is an excellent measure for children when the weather is very hot. It helps to regulate the heat mechanism of the body, and prevents excessive depression and fag. It is important to keep the head as cool as possible, and if a child shows any signs of exhaustion and heat fag, he should be made to lie down quietly in a dark room, and have wet cloths applied to the head. It is wiser also to put him upon liquid milk diet, as the digestive organs very easily get out of order under these circumstances. Hot milk also counteracts shock.