Last week marked the “official’ start of summer on the calendar, but at our house, we’ve been in full summer mode for about 6 weeks now!  We are loving lots of time outdoors, in the pool, meeting up with friends and having less of a schedule!

So today I’m sharing five tried and true summer essentials we use almost daily at our house….and a few non-essentials, just for fun!

The BEST Pool Bag


For years I bought a cute, inexpensive pool bag from Target, Old Navy or TJ Maxx that would serve it’s purpose for a few months and inevitably break by the time September rolled around.

So last year I decided to spend a little more and get a quality bag!  My friend Jennifer suggested this Henri Bendal bag, and it did not disappoint!  It is very spacious (15.5″H x 26″W x14.5″D) and sturdy enough to hold all our pool stuff….and let me just say, I have packed less for a weekend getaway than I do for my two boys’ weekly swim lessons!  Swimming with littles requires SO much stuff!  This bag is going strong on summer #2 and still no complaints!  It has a water-resistant coating which makes it perfect for the pool or beach!

Right now Henri Bendel is having their semi-annual sale and this bag is half off, free shipping!  Bonus!

If you want a slightly smaller bag (12″H x 18.5″W x 10″D) with the same great features (sturdy, water resistant coating, etc.) this tote is also a great option and comes in pink or blue….also half price, free shipping.

Our Favorite Sunscreen

We love Sun Bum!  It is waterproof, long lasting, easy to apply and just smells like summer!  Because I apply sunscreen to my boys every day, I wanted to be sure to find a healthy, safe option.  Sun Bum doesn’t have the harmful chemicals that many other sunscreens contain, is hypoallergenic and paraben, PABA, gluten and cruelty free!

I picked up the spray on a Target run, cause you KNOW you’re going there anyway! You can also purchase it here.

And the face stick makes application easy.  Available at Target and here.

Homemade Natural Bug Spray

Last summer we figured out that this guy is VERY allergic to mosquito bites, and unfortunately they LOVE him!

Logan and I…not a bite, but this kid will have bites from head to toe that swell up like crazy!

Like sunscreen, I have to apply bug spray almost daily, so I wanted to find a healthy, safe option.  I’m by no means an essential oils expert, but I found there are lots of super easy home remedies that are effective and safer than most of the store bought sprays!  Plus, the supplies I bought last year were enough to get me through last year, this year and probably next before I have to buy more!



Here is the simple recipe that has worked well for us:

In a 4 oz. spray bottle…I bought mine here…mix:

Roughly 2 oz of witch hazel (fill about half the bottle) here

Roughly 2 oz. distilled water (fill the other half, but leave room for drops and top)

15 drops lemon eucalyptus here

15 drops lavender here

Be sure to shake well before each use.  I have ordered oils from friends, as well as purchased at Sprouts, Whole Foods, Market Street or Amazon.

Favorite Hair Product

Between chlorine and the sun, summer is rough on my hair and Mama does not have time for a million different products, so this has been my go-to!

It’s a 10 does 10 things…get it? You can read them on the back of the bottle.


I have seen a big difference since I started using this a few months ago.  You just spray it on your hair when it’s damp after a shower.  I purchase here or here.

Favorite Beach Towels

Like my beach bag, I used to buy inexpensive towels each year that would fade easily, get torn up and only last a summer or two.

These towels are my favorite!  They are large (40″ x 68″), light weight so they dry quickly, and made to last!  You can snag a few here!

A few fun non-essentials…

This pom pom floppy beach hat just makes me smile! After already having skin cancers removed, (thanks tanning beds!) I am now careful to protect my skin, especially my face!

 This one and this one are cute too!

We like bug cups and we cannot lie!  We snagged these giant cups with a snack container on top last year at Five Below.  My boys thought they were hilarious!

This year Michael’s is carrying them in store only.  They are not the most durable…will probably just last you the summer….but the price reflects that!  My boys loved toting these around and filling them with water and their favorite snacks.

This is funny, but my friend Tina gave me this little fan that you plug into your phone, and y’all…it is AWESOME!  Unlike the little dollar store ones that require new batteries all the time, this just runs off the battery of your phone.  It uses very little charge, but is pretty powerful and is perfect when you are sitting outside at the park or a ballgame.  She found it here.

I bought this round fringe blanket at the beginning of the summer, and we have used it at the beach, the pool and the park!  It comes in several color options…pretty and functional!

I hope you’ll find some of these suggestions useful, but more importantly, I hope you’ll take time to soak in the sweet, carefree days of summer!  They’ll be gone before we know it!