Currently we live in a farm house originally built in 1882. It has had many additions and no proper insulation. Heating or cooling it is hard on our budget. This is our fifth home in our almost eight years of marriage. Over that time we have figured out some ways for the kids and I to stay cool and not increase our gas and electric bill too much.
By the way, we LOVE our house and the property that comes with it. We have been blessed to live in a great location, with amazing landlords and low rent. It has been a BLESSING. So I am in no way complaining.
1. Prepare your Home
Take advantage of the night time air.
Once it is cooler outside than inside open everything up! Suck all that cool air onto your home. If you have windows or doors on opposite sides of your home you can get a fantastic breezeway! (Our last home did not have any such design. Those were a hard 2 years – at least there the home wasn’t as expensive to cool down!)
We are blessed to have a home already equipped with a venting fan. It sucks in air from the open windows and pulls the hot air up put of the house. We have achieved the same effect by placing fans, one coming into the house and another out.
Check out the weather report and be aware yourself – close everything up just when the outside temperature has reached it’s lowest point. Now you have all that cool air trapped inside. It won’t last all day, but you won’t be hot for some time!
If you are needing to use the oven, try planning for one night a week. Or at least just using it in the evening. Cool or raw foods are going to be more refreshing for summer time anyway.
Get your home ready for the warm season.
If you don’t have a lot of trees shading your home’s outer walls chances are things heat up quickly. Invest in some shades or hang bamboo roll up shades outside the most exposed windows. Make sure your doors and windows have good weather stripping on them. Blackout curtains are also great for keeping the hot out.
My kid’s room is on a majorly exposed side of our home. The first year here it was almost unbearable to be in there during midday and pretty much any warm day. I finally figured out it was a full ten degrees warmer or cooler in there depending on the time of year. CRAZY huh?
We did the blackout curtains, then my dad hung a barrier on the outside wall. Next he had the great idea of buying some insulation and cutting it to fit into the windows. (Not that fluffy stuff, this is the stuff that looks kind of like foam board and is shiny on one side). All these things brought them temperature within two degrees of the rest of the house!
If you are using your A/C you can do some conserving too. Cover vents in the rooms you don’t inhabit during your days at home. Magnetic covers aren’t too expensive and will save you from loosing that cool air. I do use the A/C on hot, hot days (like the ones where it gets to be mid 80’s inside) but only during nap time or right before my husband gets home. It would be best if you do regular maintenance such as checking the refrigerant in air conditioner, cleaning the filters, etc, to avoid damages and costly repairs.
2. Prepare Yourself and Your Kids
Have some around the house clothes for everyone. My boy can run around in shorts and nothing else. But us women have it a little harder. Wear as little as you can and have a quick cover up ready to throw on for the unexpected visitor.
Getting everyone’s hair wet before the hottest part of the day is another way to keep your body from overheating. Remember your body heat escapes from your head and feet!
We can’t spend everyday at home. Neither can we spend everyday away from the home – can you imagine how little would get done? Plan your cleaning or food prep days for the coolest days that week. Then escape your home on the warmest – that leads me to the next point.
3. Get Out of Your House!
Indoor malls and stores have air conditioning! Before making your excursion decide what you are or aren’t going to spend money on, that way these days don’t become expensive.
Prepare you kids for what is to come. Bring snacks or lunch with you and some things for them to do. Coloring, books, a magnetic board for doodle on – something to keep them busy.
Malls often have an area for kids to play. The one near us has a mini playground right next to a pet store. There is also an amazing family rest area in the food court. It has comfy chairs, place for kids to run around and a kid sized toilet and sink. Check out what might be near you!
Recently there has been a cropping up of indoor play places in my area. Moms and dad can bring the kiddos for some air conditioned play for a day rate or can buy a monthly pass. My first introduction to this was through a Groupon pass. See what might be in your area, it is well worth it – even if you don’t mind running your home A/C.
If you are going to a store, set up shop in the cart. Get the kids busy with activities and go window shopping. Make a game out of it. Remember all those road trip games? Well make up some learning games . . .
Look for the ABC’s on store signage or items beginning with the letters of the alphabet. Have your kids be your navigators; let them tell you right, left or straight ahead. Take a walk around the store and count how many of the items you have at your home.
Make a wish list. Figure out what things your family can make at home. Do some food education. Talk about what foods are healthy; what you can make with them or where they come from.
Do you have a friend that ALWAYS has the air on? Take advantage, set up a play date with them! Offer to bring lunch for the kids and get in some mommy time!
Check what day your local library has their children’s story hour. These are often followed by some kind of craft for the kiddos too! If you make this a regular part of your summer you won’t have late books.
Maybe the recreation center or YMCA is hosting some summer activities?
Many movie theaters host free showings during the summer. These are usually older movies, but they are free and cool! They count on making money off the concessions – perhaps decide to buy ONE snack and bring the rest? It can sometimes be a bit of a mad house. So prepare your kids for what is expected of them and/or get another mom to go with you. This way bathroom trips or unexpected disasters won’t be so overwhelming.
Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Other than the obvious keeping your family’s skin safe from the harmful sun and potential cancer, not getting sunburned will keep you cool. I remember so many nights of trying to get comfortable enough to sleep while it was warm AND my body was radiating heat from too much sun.
Keep sunscreen in multiple locations – in the house, car and diaper bag. I also make sure I have some in stick form for their little faces. My daughter had taken to being the applier for my son. Though the first time she did this I thought she was using chalk on his face – gotta love their ingenuity!
(Note from Kate: If you choose to use sunscreen, check out the EWG’s list of safer choices.)
Water, the ultimate summertime cooler!
Kiddie pools – we have tried them all. I have finally come to the conclusion that the blow up ones are NOT the way to go. I can never get them fully cleaned out. And while I have had the best intentions of getting them put away after the summer is over I have already trashed 3 of them in my 6+ years of mommyhood.
But the hard plastic ones keep their shape, so I can scrub it out and make sure it is clear of harmful bacteria. You can also add a few drops of anti-bacterial essential oils to the pool to help keep the water a little longer. Tea Tree, Lavender, Oregano, Geranium and Lemon all have anti-bacterial properties.
Use a patio umbrella or the shade of your house to keep it nice and cool – and the kids free from sunburns. Try to avoid placing the pool under a tree, this way you should cut down on having to clear out leaves. Do get a net for a fish tank to clean out any bugs or plant life – the kids have a great time doing this!
Once it is time to change the water give the kids some buckets and let them give all your thirsty plants a good drink. You can also use your hose to siphon off the water to your tree and do some deep watering.
You can also enjoy water in other ways. Team up with a friend to go to a splash park or in-ground pool. Having 2 adults there are always better for having to attend to bathroom breaks.
Water your lawn or garden and let the kids run through the water stream. Just letting the kids run through flowing water during the summertime can be expensive. But if you multi-task your water outage it can make it well worth it.
And if it is just unbearably hot outside throw the kids in the bath. A few toys and they can entertain themselves for a good amount of time. This is also when I take advantage of cleaning the bathroom.
4. Refreshing Refreshments
Modern Alternative Mama’s Simply Summer has all sorts of refreshing summer meals as well as a bunch of Ice Cream recipes!
You and the kids can make popsicles out of juice or homemade smoothies. Be sure to sneak some veggies into too!
You can also pop some fruit in the freezer. Grapes and melons are good options! You’d also be surprised have content kids are with just sucking on some ice cubes!
What are your favorite summertime snacks?
5. Good Ole’ H2O – Hydrate!!!
This is probably the most important one on this list. Your body can easily overheat during the summer. And those little ones have a hard time stopping the play to come attend to their needs, right?
It is recommended to drink one ounce of water for every two pounds you weigh, plus another eight ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise/activity. This sounds like an enormous amount of water to me. The only way I have been able to accomplish this is by keeping water with me at all times.
There are many different vessels to accomplish this task. I have tried all the ones pictured above. But I am a bit of a water snob and would honestly prefer the bottled water. But the waste that comes with this is immense. So I have been using a glass alternative.