Summer is a lot of fun, but it can also bring a lot of heat. Adding heat can mean adding worry and frustration for you, as a parent, because it ends up being your job to keep everyone cool. By the end of the summer, it's easy to run out of good ideas that will both make your kids happy and help them cool down. Fortunately, there are a few things you may not have thought of yet that can help during summer's hottest days.
1. Make Your Own Water Park
Nothing cools off better than water, and most kids love it. While taking a trip to a water park is difficult to do on short notice and can be expensive, it's easy to make up some games in your backyard. If you want to generate the whole "amusement park" feel, invite all the kids you know in your neighborhood to come join in the cooling-off fun.
There are a million things you can do. Set up the sprinkler. For added fun, let the kids take turns adjusting it so no one knows who is going to get wet next. Build your own Slip 'n Slide, play jump rope with the stream of water coming from the hose, and let kids bob for apples in your kiddie pool. Just make sure everyone has a towel and there's a designated dry spot, in case someone gets hurt or cold or just needs to rest for a minute.
2. Have a Party… Inside
The desire to take everything outside is common in the summer. After all, there's no better time to take advantage of the wonderful weather. But when it's too hot, that's no fun at all. Instead, set up an indoor party with a fun summer theme and let your kids invite their friends. Crank up the air conditioning (it's just for one afternoon) so everyone enjoy the luxury of being cool.
If your kids have always wanted to go to the tropics, try out a Hawaiian theme for your party. You can find cheap decorations at a party store, or the kids can make their own as part of the fun. Or have a California Cool party, and let everyone wear their sunglasses in the house. On the other hand, Christmas in July parties are fun, too, and may help people feel cooler, even if they aren't.
3. Go to the Library
If you don't have air conditioning, it doesn't work, or you'd rather take advantage of someone else's rather than use your own, plan an afternoon trip to the local library. In most locales, these buildings will be well cooled, so you'll not only get to enjoy the books but a nice change in temperature, too.
If your kids aren't too keen on the library as a normal course of habit, try to schedule your visit for a special day. Libraries host everything from movies to Pokemon tournaments, so find something that will hold your kids' interest and plan your trip around that. Who knows? They might find some interesting books to pick up while they're there.
4. Host a Movie in the Afternoon
Most people think of having movie nights, but movie afternoons are great for kids, especially when it's hot. Let your kids pick a movie (or take turns, if they can't agree), invite a few friends, and you're ready to go.
A movie afternoon can be as big of a deal as you want to make it. If you don't have much time and energy, just pop some popcorn and make sure each of the kids has a drink before the movie starts. If you want to put more into it, you can get either paper or plastic popcorn boxes, and you can let the kids "earn" tokens for candy and drinks before you start the movie, through games or other activities.
5. Have a Water Balloon Toss
This is a great spur-of-the-moment way to cool down. All you need are a few balloons and access to some water. This idea also works well if you have a limited amount of space, since you can toss balloons in a small area of grass or even in an alley behind your home or apartment. And older kids will like the challenge as well as younger ones, especially if you add challenge to the toss.
There are a zillion ways to play this game. For little kids, just throwing the balloon back and forth over a short distance will probably be challenge enough. As the kids get older, add in difficulty. Make them step back each time they catch the balloon, or have a group of them stand in the circle and throw the balloons randomly, calling out the name of their intended catcher before they toss.
How do you like to cool off in the summer? Let us (and other parents!) know in the comments.