Whether the air conditioning is on the fritz or you find yourself a victim of a brownout, there inevitably comes a time during the summer that you have to come up with some sharp, keep-cool ideas to help your kids feel comfortable and entertained.
- Leave all windows open approximately one or two inches. Close all shades and blinds, making the rooms as dark as possible but still allowing for circulation via the slightly open windows. Doing this early in the day helps cool the rooms.
- Stay on the ground floor or, even better, in a finished basement.
- Keep all your room doors open so the heat rises to the higher levels, away from you.
- Don't forget the old fan method. Spread a sheet out on the floor, preferably away from foot traffic. Place the fan a few feet away from the sheet and set it on low. A steady, close flow of air is better than a heavy flow of air from across the room. Tell the kids to get some dolls or stuffed animals to play with, their pillows, coloring stuff, Gameboys, whatever. Give them no-spill bottles of water or juice and you're all set! If your kids are very young, remind them not to go near the fan, or place it where it can't be reached by little fingers (and where you can keep a close watch at all times).
- Try a bathtub picnic! Have your kids put on their bathing suits and draw a bath of tepid water, not too cool, not too warm. Once they're in the tub, let them snack on their favorite popsicles or freeze pops. The kids cool down, and the mess is greatly minimized! (Always remember: Never leave children unattended in the water.)
- Celebrate the winter holidays in July! My mother told me that, to keep the family feeling cool during the summer, my grandparents used to show home movies from winters past. My grandmother also would play Christmas music. It gave them the feeling that it was chilly outside. Mind over matter!
- Go to the movies. Hop from movie to movie for a day full of fun and fantasy. Matinee movies are much cheaper than evening movies, so they won't take a huge bite out of your wallet.
- Visit the local library. Check out what children's programs your public library has planned for summer. The library is fun, educational, and air-conditioned.
- There's always the mall. Have fun window shopping or stop in for a snack.
- The children's museum, aquarium, or children's theater can be great places for kids and get you out of the heat.