I’ve been camping all of once in my life. Yep. Once. When I was in high school, there was a retreat for the seniors called “Senior Survival.” We were taken to an outdoor location a summer camp facility, given some basic supplies to build a shelter in the woods, and stayed in our self-created shelters for three days and two nights. We cooked over a fire in a cast iron skillet, hiked during the mornings, and did all sorts of team building activities in the afternoons.
It was awful. Sleeping on the ground on top of all sorts of lumps and bumps, waking up to a sleeping bag covered in dew, no showers and being covered in dirt. I’m sure that some of you are cheering, “YEAH!” to each one of those items, but I think it’s pretty clear: I am not an outdoorsy kind of person.
Are You the Outdoorsy Type?
Even though I’m not the outdoorsy type, it’s impossible to stay inside all the time – even if I have avoided camping again all these years! All three of my kids love to be outside. Whether its going on hikes, playing in a creek, attending baseball games at the local park, or playing out in our yard, the outdoors is definitely part of our lives. And honestly, shouldn’t the outdoors be a part of any happy, healthy childhood? I have learned to suck it up and enjoy being outside in small doses.
Unfortunately, bugs are a part of the outside life. No matter where you go or what activity you are doing, it seems as if bugs are just part of being outdoors.
Mostly, bugs are just a nuisance and can be ignored. However, in recent years bugs have become a bigger concern due to disease transmission. These diseases may not only cause immediate health issues, but can have negative long-term effects (and in extreme cases, they can result in death). Some personal examples of these concerning issues are:
Last summer I was pregnant and was terrified of being bitten by a Zika-carrying mosquito. Every time I was outside, I was on the lookout for mosquitoes. Every time I got a bug bite, I had a minor freak-out. Luckily, Zika hadn’t reach Ohio by the time my daughter was born, so my baby and myself were safe from any of the scary Zika symptoms.
Lyme-carrying ticks are also another concern – especially in the Eastern states. My mom was bitten by a Lyme-carrying tick nearly 10 years ago in Maryland, and has battled chronic Lyme since that time. Achy joints, extreme fatigue, and even periodic vertigo continue to plague her each time she has a flair up.
How to Enjoy the Outdoors Pest Free—Bug off!
Protect yourself from these unwanted pests (and the problems they can cause), many people turn to some sort of insect repellent; there are many different kinds to choose from. Some you wear, some you spray, some are little fans you can clip to your clothes, some are in candle-form. There’s one thing that many of them have in common, though: they are comprised of toxins and chemicals that are not only bad for bugs, but they are bad for you, too!
However, there is a healthy, natural alternative to all of these scary bug-repelling products – Bug Off! You can easily make this in a spray bottle at home and apply as frequently as necessary without exposing yourself to all of the chemicals in store-bought bug spray.
Bug Off! Recipe
- 3 oz witch hazel
- 4 oz distilled water
- ½ tsp vegetable glycerin
- 20 drops Purification Essential Oil Blend
- 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
Combine ingredients in a measuring cup. Stir and pour into spray bottle of choice. Recipe yields approximately 7 ounces. Spray generously on body while outside for an annoyance free experience!
Non-Toxic Outdoor Solutions
One of the best things about this spray is that it is safe for both children and pets. No longer do you have to be concerned about compromising your health through toxin exposure in order to protect your kids or animals from insects.
There are also other ways to protect yourself from insects while outdoors:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks.
- Keep in mind that bugs are attracted to patterns and contrasts, so light colors are your best option.
- Loose clothes (with some room between your clothes and skin) provide additional protection as it makes it harder for bugs to find your skin.
- To avoid ticks, tuck long pants into your socks and avoid tall grass and brush (always do a full body check for ticks once coming indoors). Here’s the ONLY way you should remove a tick!
- Keep your window screens in good repair to avoid bugs from entering your home. If mosquitoes are able to get into your house, be sure to use mosquito netting over beds.
- Encourage natural predators in your yard: ladybugs, spiders, bats, spiders, birds, and even fish will help eliminate unwanted insects.
- Fragrances attract bugs, so use unscented products before going outside.
- Avoid standing water. Mosquitoes can use any kind of standing water as a breeding ground – including puddles, swampy areas, and even dishes left to soak while camping.
- Don’t sit on the ground. This is especially true when avoiding ticks, as they can’t fly. If you stick to sitting on benches or camping chairs, you will have a better chance of avoiding these pests.
- For more ideas on how to avoid insects, read this and this!
I guess now that I have this great recipe, there are no more excuses for not going outside. I’m not saying that I’m ready to go camping yet, but this summer I see much more outdoor play in my family’s future.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity? Please share in the comments below!
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Allison Sauceda is a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer and blogger at thehouseplantmomma.com. She has a life-long love for Jesus and is active in her local church. You can generally find her reading children’s books, folding mountains of laundry or changing diapers. Search “Allison” in the sidebar to read other posts she’s written here on the blog!
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