Good-bye July, you melting, sweaty month you. Hello -humid as a crowded sauna- August. I love summer, but a lot of days are too hot to be outdoors. Even the swimming pools in August have lukewarm water that hold no appeal to kids hoping to cool off in the sunshine. My household has had to get a bit creative when it comes to tolerating the high temps and to not completely admit defeat with unlimited screen time. Keep reading to see how my kids and I manage to beat the heat on occasion.
Non-Traditional Field Trips
Museums, libraries, and art centers are great destinations when we want to get out of the house, but cannot enjoy a bike ride or game of kickball due to high heat indexes. This summer has been so extreme in terms of warm weather that I have had to think outside the box when trying to find fun places to visit. So far these air-conditioned stops have been great for 30 minutes to two hours of extended play that requires no sunscreen or elevated body temps.
- Pet Stores: I am talking about the huge pet stores like Pet Co. and Pet Smart. My kids love looking at the lizards, fish, and kitty cats that are on display at these types of stores. I avoid the Humane Society and smaller pet shops because I love dogs and fear I will come home with a puppy or two if I even step foot into one of these establishments. The larger pet stores are big, and aside from the animals, my kids even get a kick out of looking at unique shaped fish tanks, squeaking all of the pet toys on display, and testing out the softness of doggie beds. I draw the line when my daughters attempt to stuff my three-year-old son into a kennel, but everything else is fair game for looking and touching.
- Garden Centers: These businesses have beautiful plants and flowers on display, plus the occasional comical garden gnome. The greenhouse areas are a bit warm, but nothing compared to the outdoor heat of summer. My girls love smelling all of the floral horticulture, while my son gets a kick out of the different gardening tools and water hoses. My crew does not need an outdoor sculpture garden to appreciate pretty landscaping decor, they are perfectly happy with retail nurseries and garden centers.
- Home Improvement Stores: Home Depot, Menards, and Lowes are great places for little ones. Especially ones who love to “fix things” and ride on tractors. My preschooler and I spent an hour in the lawn mower section of Lowes one day. We were there to buy paint, and while it was getting mixed I discovered how much fun it is to watch a three-year-old test out the seats of the display mowers. I kept a good eye on him at all times and never once did we get approached for being disruptive by store personnel or other customers.
The heat is awful, but I still try to get outdoors whenever we can. It just feels good to be uncaged from the confines of our house and mini-van. When temperatures are in the nineties, it is more difficult to be outside, but cold, messy, treats can help. I have written before about making homemade lemonade and popsicles, which are both delicious on hot days and can help make kids forget about the humidity. Another idea is to make homemade soda pop floats or homemade snow cones, and just mandate that they be eaten outside on the porch or in the shade. My kids complain less about the heat whenever they get a sweet, cold, snack.
We have made Dr. Pepper Floats and Diet Coke Floats this summer in an effort to be cooler and edgier than a regular Root Beer Float. All a person needs is vanilla ice cream and their favorite soda pop drink. We typically do three large scoops of ice cream and add 1-cup of fizzy carbonated cola. Serve with a spoon and straw, and keep handy wipes readily available because these treats will create a sticky mess.
Making snow cones just requires a lot of crushed ice and some syrup flavoring. We typically skip the syrups, and mix our blended ice with juicy berries (like overly ripe strawberries or squishy raspberries) for our own version of fruity snow cones. Our kids just love ice and sometimes I think they do not even need flavoring in order to enjoy their cup of ice chips.
Seize the Night
Another way to beat the heat is to change up your routine a bit to maximize when it is cooler outside for little ones. The days are longer, and the evenings around dusk and nighttime can be monumentally cooler than late mornings and afternoon times. Star gazing or searching for the international space station at night are a common tradition at our house. There are also some cool phone apps that can help kids and parents spot constellations or an ISS fly-over. Click here to read about these neat (and free) apps.
Summer is fun, but it can also be a lot of work when a person is sweating to death in hopes of bringing outdoor joy to a child. Take breaks, drink water, do one of the recommended activities above, and ultimately do not get too bent out of shape if it is just too hot to do anything except watch television. Netflix and cable channels were created for a reason. (My kids currently love Lego Star Wars Legos: The Freemaker Adventures on Disney Channel XD.)
What games or adventures do you do when it is hot enough to cook bacon on the cement? Family Footnote wants to know, so leave a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.