Summertime and the livin' is easy . . . unless you happen to live in a sweltering climate that induces you to snap at everyone and consider crawling into a freezer. The kids get cranky and look like lobsters from running around. Your patience can run mighty thin.
Overheating can also be physically dangerous. We have to take care to watch that the kids (and us) are getting enough water to drink.
We have rarely lived near a municipal pool and could hardly afford a summer pass when we did. So we had to find creative ways to keep cool without breaking the bank.
Here are some great tips for chilling out this summer on the cheap.
Know the thermostats on your body and how to use them
Your body has pulse spots which, when treated to cool water or a body cooler, almost immediately lower your temperature. Where to find these spots: the main spots are the back of the neck and the wrists, but also include the spot between your forehead and your temples, the inside of your ankles and thighs and the back of your knees and elbows. You can run cool water on these spots or create a cool neck wrap out of a bandana and some water absorbing crystals which are available at most craft stores and are reusable. Instructions here. These little easily-made devices are wonderful for when you are doing a hot chore like mowing or working in the garden. They are also something the kids can make for themselves, giving them another project to beat the summer of "I'm so bored!"
Never underestimate the power of the bathtub
Don't have a pool or it's too hot to have the little ones outside? Let them put on their swimsuits and sit in a tub of cool water. This is a great solution for irritable toddlers. Bring a comfy chair into the bathroom and watch them splash around with their toys while you read, make a shopping list or chore chart, or create Instagram masterpieces. Encourage older kids to have a nice cool afternoon shower.
Get into a cool spot
In the heat of summer, frequent visits to the nicely air-conditioned library were a lifesaver for my gang. Let them sit around and read books, play puzzles, or surf the web. Malls are another option, but they usually result in impulse shopping. Check your local area for free museum days or cheap movie mornings. Find a grove of shade trees and pack a picnic, some quiet things like puzzles and books and a lot of water.
Start an epic battle
Go to the dollar store, buy a few bags of water balloons, fill and load them into clothes baskets. Invite neighbors and friends and divide into teams. Then push the red button. Launch an epic water balloon fight, but watch out for the little ones. Sometimes older kids get a little crazy! When you're finished, tell the kiddos that if they pick up all the balloon remnants, there will be another battle. Don't want water all over the house? Buy a water balloon nozzle and let the kids fill their own baskets from the outside spigot. They'll cool off even before the battle begins.
Slip and slide your way to cool
Create a homemade slip and slide with a $5-ish roll of plastic sheeting from the paint section of your hardware store. Follow these simple instructions and the kids will have hours of fun slipping and sliding their way to chill. The side benefit is that they are doing a lot of physical exercise with this one and keeping cool at the same time. This is also a great activity to turn over to your older child engineers. They will love building it as much as they do using it.
A few other tips:
— Although ice cream is the dessert of choice in the heat, the milk fat actually creates body heat. Enjoy this treat after the sun goes down.
— Make water the beverage of choice and keep lots of it in the fridge. Watch out for sugary, caffeinated drinks which can actually dehydrate. Put one child in charge of an egg timer for water breaks.
— Have mandatory cool-down periods every couple of hours where they sit for 15-20 minutes and read or do some other quiet activity.
— Keep eating during the daylight by filling the fridge with salads, veggies, coleslaw, cottage cheese and lots of fruits.
— At the hottest point of the day, put a movie in and make popcorn.
— Watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. If you suspect your child is suffering, act immediately.
Summer break is a great time to enjoy our kids and have fun as a family. Don't let the heat make everyone miserable. You don't have to spend a lot to 'chill out.' Just think creatively and make it a cool summer to remember.
Becky Lyn is an author and a 35-plus-year (most of the time) single mom. Visit Becky Lyn's website or write her at firstname.lastname@example.org