Summer’s coming and you know what that means: days so hot that chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs and cows giving evaporated milk. Maybe the fire ants are actually on fire.
Whatever the case, looking for ways to stay cool is a way of life during the dog days of summer. Temperatures can get dangerously high and it’s important to take steps to fight the heat and stay cool. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated, but stay away from alcohol or caffeinated drinks, which actually cause dehydration. Stay out of the sun as much as possible, but when you do have to go out, wear light clothing and a hat, and always slather on some sunscreen. During a heat wave, be sure to check on elderly friends or family to make sure they’re staying cool during the sweltering heat.
Keeping cool in the summer can be fun too, and best of all, you don’t need to break the bank to beat the heat.
1. Pool time!
If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, you don’t have to look far to cool off. The problem with having your own pool is that it can get a little repetitive by the end of the summer, so look for games to play in the water. You don’t have to buy expensive games. Make up your own games using beach balls and pool noodles. Don’t forget to share in the fun. Invite friends and family over for a picnic or backyard barbecue. Picnic and barbecue foods are generally inexpensive and, if you’re offering up a refreshing dip in the pool, your guests will be happy to join in on a potluck meal.
2. Make a Backyard Water Park
You don’t need a pool to have fun with water. With a little imagination, you can turn your backyard into a fun water park for the kids. Kids love running through the sprinkler with their friends. Kiddie pools are inexpensive, and young kids can play in them for hours with nothing more than some cups and balls. At the big box stores, you can usually find cheap water toys such as packs of water guns or water balloons. Toddlers can have a blast with a few plastic bowls of water and paintbrushes in the driveway.
3. Hit the Beach
No matter where you live, you’re probably not too far from a day trip to the ocean or a lake. Pack a cooler full of snacks, drinks (don’t forget water!), and your favorite sandwiches and head for the beach for the day. Bring a beach umbrella for shade and don’t forget to bring lots of sunscreen and a beach ball!
4. Visit a Museum
Museums are usually cool in the summer months, and most communities have them so you don’t necessarily have to drive into the city to visit one. A good place to start is your local library. They often offer passes or discounted admission to area museums. Universities often have museums, so if you live near one, check them out. Make an afternoon of it by packing a picnic lunch to have at an area park.
5. Go to a Movie
Movies don’t have to be expensive, as matinees are cheaper than evening shows. Many movie theaters offer summer movie specials where they show not-first-run movies for kids, usually in the morning or early afternoon when they’re not showing new movies. These movies are usually free or cost a dollar or two, and they may have discounted snacks or let you bring in your own from home. Check with area theaters to see if they offer this kind of program.
If you check area restaurants, you may be able to find meal deals and make a nice outing for the entire family.
6. Visit the Library
Your local library is a treasure trove of entertainment that goes well beyond reading books (although that’s entertainment enough!). Many libraries offer summer reading programs for children where they can earn prizes for reading books so they can keep up their reading skills over the summer. They also offer family nights, movie nights, crafts, author events, Lego clubs, and some even have play areas for the younger kids.
How about a library scavenger hunt? Many search lists can be found online, or you can make up your own. All you need is paper and pencil, or if your kids have cell phones or iPods, they can take pictures of the objects when they find them. Clues can be things such as:
- Find a book by an author whose initials are C and B
- Find a picture of a cow
- Find a book about a car
- Locate the section on world history
- Find an author with the same first name as you
A library scavenger hunt is fun for everyone. Better yet, it’ll help your child learn more about the local library without realizing he or she is learning!
7. Take a Trip to the Mall
Going to the mall doesn’t have to be expensive. Walking around the mall window-shopping can be good exercise when it’s too hot to walk outside. By the time summer rolls around, stores are already stocking their fall fashions so you can get an idea of what’s going to be “in” when you start your back-to-school shopping.
Mall food can be on the expensive side for what you’re getting. Instead of a full meal, end your mall visit with some ice cream or frozen yogurt.
8. Find a Creek
Whether you call it a creek, a stream, or a brook, an area where there’s running water can provide lots of cooling entertainment for younger kids. They can splash around and use their imaginations. It’s a great place for finding little critters and learning more about their habitats. Show them how to make boats out of sticks, leaves, acorns, and pieces of bark, and have boat races down the stream. Water shoes or an old pair of sneakers will make splashing around in the water easier. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
Everyone looks forward to some summertime fun, and too-hot temperatures outside don’t mean you have to stay cooped up in your house to save money. With a little thought, you can find fun things to do this summer without cutting into your savings.