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Hello, all! I just got back home a few days ago from a 3-week trip to the States to visit family and friends. We had a great time, which is why- despite my best intentions- I didn’t do ANY of the blogging or pattern or shop work that I’d planned on. Whoops! But I really needed a break, and I had a wonderful one complete with visits with loved ones that I hadn’t seen in years, an abundance of delicious food (that I’m currently in withdrawal from), and lots of swimming in lakes and the ocean, frequently having to make sure to stay away from seals to avoid getting eaten up by sharks. Such good times! If you’re interested in poking into my private vacation life a little, I did post a few pictures on Instagram (some belatedly, after my return to Italy), and now I’m getting back to work on everything that I’d taken a break on!
And so today I’m betting back into my Beating the Heat summer series, with ideas on how to stay cool when you’re forced to stay home in the worst of the worst summer heat. Last time I wrote about making homemade iced tea, which is my absolute favorite hot-weather drink (although this trip to the States reminded me how ridiculously good green tea Starbucks Frappucinos are….) and is light years better than industrial-made iced tea. But seeing as a lot of my readers have young children, like I do, and they’re all on summer vacation right now and probably bored out of their minds, today I want to share a few of the many ways to cool down inside the house with refreshing summer activities for kids! These are all things to do IN the house, without having to take a step outside into the broiling heat. This is by no means a definite list, so I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
First of all, start the day out right. First thing in the morning is generally the coolest time of day that you’ll be awake, so take advantage of it! If you have a balcony or terrace, have breakfast outside before it gets too hot. You can probably manage this even if you have just a little space. Our balconies are not very wide (this photo makes this one look bigger than it really is), and will just barely fit a small table and two chairs. Just have space for a chair or two? Buy one of those little foldable tables that hook onto the railing and close up when you don’t need them.
It will feel refreshing to eat outside and the whole family will appreciate it, especially if you have something interesting to look at (we have Mount Vesuvius outside our balcony). Just be sure not to leave children unsupervised on a balcony with anything they could potentially climb on and fall over the railing. To avoid this, we bring table and chairs outside and back in every morning that we eat outside, never leaving them outside beyond mealtimes.
I generally try to avoid turning on the stove or oven when it’s hot, so I eat a lot of salad and freselle (as you can see in my iced tea post). So I often put my little helpers to work preparing salads! They love to pull the lettuce leaves off the head, swish them around in the water in the sink, and then spin them dry. And if they’re lucky (and they always are), they’ll get nice and wet in the process!
But the fun doesn’t stop there, because ripping lettuce up into smaller pieces is a wonderful sensorial activity. And if you have a child who enjoys destroying things, like my little guy, he’ll love being allowed to rip something!
Use your own discretion as to which other salad ingredients your child is able to handle. Older children can cut or shred carrots, celery, beets or other veggies. Children of any age can rip other greens (such as rocket, pea tendrils) into smaller pieces or dump in seeds, nuts and nutritional yeast. They can also add corn or other veggies from a can (opened by an adult), then help add salt (or garlic salt), oil, vinegar or other salad dressing and mix it all up. It will take at least twice as long as if you just did it yourself and will be twice as messy, but it’s a great way to get kids cooking and using their hands, as well as getting them excited about eating something healthy!
Kids get hot and sticky all the time, but it can get out of control in the summer. So what better way to get your kids clean in a fun way than turning the bathtub into a swimming pool?! You can put them in bathing suits (or keep them naked, as mine prefer), give them toys, soap and other various objects to make it different from a normal bath, and they can easily spend a couple of hours in there!
I like to take advantage of the bathtub-swimming pool to clean the bathroom, leaving the tub itself and mopping the floor until after the kids get out. That way I can kill three birds with one stone: happy and cool kids, clean kids, and clean bathroom!
The important thing is to get the children into the swimming spirit, not the same old taking-a-bath spirit. That means: anything goes! If you’re cleaning the bathroom at the same time, it doesn’t matter if water gets everywhere because you’ll be mopping afterwards anyway. So let your kids go wild with the shower hose!
And let them take non-breakable kitchen containers in the tub, as well as any non-bath toy that won’t get ruined by the water! If they want to fill the tub up with so many toys they can’t move, so be it!
Are any of their stuffed toys getting a little dirty? Then give the kids some soap and let them give their animals a shower! Who knows, they may decide to wash themselves a little bit as part of their game! (Sheepy was my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal for a couple of years, which is why you can see her in the first picture of this post as well as in the stuffed animal bandaids tutorial.)
All kids love painting, though all mothers hate cleaning up after their kids’ painting. So make your own bubble bath paint from bath wash so that the mess is actually kind of clean and can washed away in the bathtub without getting anywhere else! I did this a few years ago after seeing this pin.
Bath toys tend to get pretty scummy and disgusting over time, but who in the world wants to bother cleaning them? Believe it or not, your kids probably will if you give them old toothbrushes and toothpicks for cleaning! If you get easily grossed out by your kids picking gunk out from toys (I don’t, but I realize that I’m not a typical mom), just remember that your kids most likely will love it and you will be cleaning off your kids at the end of their mini-swim anyway.
There are gazillions of other ways to keep kids entertained and cool at home during steamy summer vacation (including another that I’ll get more into in the next post), so I’d love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment below to share your favorite ideas!
These ideas for summer activities for kids is part of the Beating the Summer Heat series! Stay tuned for more ideas on how to stay cool at home on hot summer days!