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Summer in the City. 25 tips for beating heat (and toddler!) exhaustion.

Summer in the City

25 activities to beat the heat

by Lindsay Armstrong, Emily Frost, and Andrea Zimmerman

July 30, 2009

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Spending July and August in New York (or Chicago or LA) will give a person a whole new appreciation for the Lovin’ Spoonfuls hit “Summer in the City” – the heat radiates from the sky and the ground and there truly “doesn’t seem to be a shadow” in the whole city. If you’re trying to entertain a sweaty toddler during these months, you can find yourself with a serious case of heat-exhaustion. When you’ve seen every kid-friendly summer movie and trucked it to the mall too many times to count (ahh:sweet air-conditioned bliss), what other options do you have? Here, we offer twenty-five activities to help keep you and your little one nice and cool! – Lindsay Armstrong, Emily Frost and Andrea Zimmerman

1.jpg1. Make Ice Cream

In about the same amount of time it would take you to get the stroller outside and walk to the ice cream shop, you and your favorite kitchen helper can make your own. Even if you’re no Martha Stewart, we promise that this recipe is a breeze and uses materials you probably already have at home. Your kids will love taking turns shaking the bag and watching the ingredients magically change from liquid to ice cream!

2.jpg2. Make Popsicles

If it’s so hot outside that even shaking a bag of ice sounds like a monumental amount of effort, make popsicles instead. You can buy ice pop molds for under $5 at many drugstores. Then, just pour in your child’s favorite juice, pop them in the freezer, and your work is finished. If you feel like being healthy, you can use a mixture of (defrosted) frozen fruit and greek yogurt to make your own yogurt-pops. Yum!

3.jpg3. Invest in Great Bathtub Toys

When it is scorching outside, there is nothing better than playing in nice, cool water. Kids don’t need an Olympic-sized swimming pool; a cool bath will do just fine. To ensure longer-lasting baths, invest in some seriously fun new tub toys. We have some great ideas here, but just about anything plastic and unbreakable will do.

4.jpg4. Everybody in the Pool

Signing your child up for swimming lessons is a great way to keep them cool and safe. Sweeten the deal by joining a parent-child swim class so that you also get to take a dip. These classes are offered at many pools, including the YMCA, where they do lessons for children as young as 6 months (called The Shrimps!)

5.jpg5. Spend the day at a hotel pool

In a city, good public pools can be hard to come by and on the really hot days when you want to go, it seems like everyone else has had the same idea. Nice hotels, however, often have very nice pools and many of them offer day passes. They tend to be pricey ($50/day), but if nothing but a swim will do it could be a nice now-and-then treat. Another, possibly cheaper, way in is to find a few other friends with kids, book a room, and split the cost. Now you have pool access, a private dressing/napping area, and great company.

Summer in the City

25 activities to beat the heat

by Lindsay Armstrong, Emily Frost, and Andrea Zimmerman

July 30, 2009

400x236.jpg

12

6.jpg6. Botanical Gardens

Sometimes just getting away from all of that heat-magnifying concrete and into a shady, grassy, green space can help you cool off. Check out your city’s botanical gardens. They offer acres of walk-able nature, beautiful displays, and kid-friendly activities. Because they are often on the outer edges of the city, they are also usually cooler than your average city park.

7.jpg7. C’mon Ride the Train

If you live in a city, you have access to a great, cheap form of air-conditioned entertainment: the commuter rail. Commuter-rail tickets are inexpensive and if you go during off-hours, the train will be practically empty. Take a ride to a leafy, suburban town, get some ice cream, and hop back on the train. Pick a route with nice scenery and your kids will be entertained by watching the landscape change.

8.jpg8. Visit a Children’s Museum

A children’s museum is a great indoor destination on a sweltering day. Kids can still run around, explore, and burn energy, but can do it all in the comfort of air-conditioning. There are locations in just about every state in the country. This website can help you find one near you.

9.jpg9. Wash the car or (your dog)

Sure, when you hear this idea you envision a boring, messy chore, but washing the car is really just a great excuse to have a water fight! Get out the old clothes, buckets, and hose and go to town. Your child will have a great time helping you soap up and rinse off the car (or puppy) and if it’s hot enough, you’ll all welcome the accompanying splashes.

10.jpg10. Set Sail

You don’t have to own a yacht to get out and enjoy the water. In most major cities you will find great options for boat tours. Companies like Circle Line in NYC, Wendella in Chicago, and San Francisco Tours in San Fran offer inexpensive tours that last about two hours each. If your children are a little older, check out a speed boat tour like “The Beast” offered by Circle Line. It’s guaranteed to get you splashed and cool you off.

Summer in the City

25 activities to beat the heat

by Lindsay Armstrong, Emily Frost, and Andrea Zimmerman

July 30, 2009

400x236.jpg

12

11.jpg11. Water Table

Water tables are a classic part of any pre-school’s menu of playtime options. However, buying your own can set you back a few hundred dollars, plus, you have to find a space to store it. Little Tikes makes a great, more affordable option, or you can just make your own. All you need is a TV tray or two and a clear, plastic storage container. Fill it with a few inches of water and get out your sandbox toys for an afternoon of splashy fun. One tip: include a few large paintbrushes. Toddlers can entertain themselves for quite a while by “painting” the sidewalk.

12.jpg12. Go to the Beach

For those of you who live in spectacular, oceanfront cities, this may seem like a no-brainer. If you’re in the Northeast or Midwest, however, it can be easy to forget that you live only a short distance from the Atlantic or a Great Lake. Do a little research first to find out which beaches in your area are the most family friendly. Our must-have list includes lifeguards and restrooms!

13.jpg13. Water Park

If you’re willing to spend the extra bucks, water parks are a sure-fire way to beat the heat all day. Almost all water parks have kid-friendly attractions, like lazy rivers, water playgrounds, wading pools, and mini slides. Don’t want to journey too far from home? You can always make your own water park in your backyard with inflatable water slides and Slip-n-Slide. One warning: this can get expensive!

14.jpg14. Make your own Tent

We love the iconic summer image of kids pitching a tent in the backyard and sleeping outside on a hot summer night. But why wait until dark to camp out? For daytime adventurers, grab an old set of sheets, some clothespins and rope, and head out back or to the park to make your own tent-fort. Pick a large shady tree as an anchor and pitch away. A sheet tent is airier (and cheaper) than your standard model and playing in it will amuse little ones until the hot sun finally sets. If it is just unbearable outside, camp out in the living room. Have a lunch picnic on the floor, tell scary stories, and made shadow puppets, all in the comfort of the AC.

15.jpg15. Bridge to Nowhere

Scenic spans like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate aren’t just for tourists. Elevated and close to the water, these bridges get fantastic breezes year-round. Take a leisurely stroll across one to count boats, skyscrapers, and your kids’ smiles. Kids afraid of heights? In an effort to ‘go green,’ most cities are becoming more bike-friendly by expanding paths and lanes, and sponsoring free bike rentals. So, hitch up your trailer, hook on your child carrier, and wave to that bridge from the less-scary shore.

Summer in the City

25 activities to beat the heat

by Lindsay Armstrong, Emily Frost, and Andrea Zimmerman

July 30, 2009

400x236.jpg

12

16.jpg16. The Grocery Store

Stop in at your closest mega-store for a little field trip. Go in the middle of the weekday when it’s usually cleared out, and wander amongst chilly grapes and freezer boxes on a learning adventure. Bring nothing but a five dollar bill so you won’t get roped into buying stuff you don’t need, eat before you go, and then set little fun challenges for your child. Try to spell out the alphabet by picking a different letter from each cereal box, find the weirdest object in the store, or play I Spy. When their attention begins to wane, let everyone pick out a small treat for the way home.

17.jpg17. Hit the Books

Save outdoor time for early morning or dusk when the sun is less intense, and treat yourself to a mini-siesta at the library. Most public libraries offer free summer reading clubs for kids of all ages and reading levels, with incentives like stickers and stamps for every time your child finishes a book. For younger kids, attending story hour is a great option. Keep your eyes open for special events like guest storytellers or readings by beloved authors.

18.jpg18. Visit an Aquatic Playground

Many playgrounds have low-pressure fountains that spray all day long. Ask around in your neighborhood to find the most reliable and cleanest watering holes. Make sure to pack a towel, water-safe shoes like Crocs or boots, and waterproof sunscreen for a splish-splashy time.

19.jpg19. Ice-capades

Not all ice rinks close for the off-season. For example, Manhattan’s Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers is open year-round and costs only $7 for kids and $10 for adults with free skate rental on Sundays from 12:00-3:50pm in June, July and August. Find deals like this in your area and glide (or tumble) your way to icy bliss.

20.jpg20. Frosty Cowboys and Girls

Decorate bandanas with sequins, markers, and stickers, lightly wet them and then put them in the freezer for a few moments. Tie these damp rags on their heads and you’ll immediately lower your child’s body temperature. Bandanas come in all colors and are usually inexpensive.

21.jpg21. Water Day

You don’t need a pool to have a splash fight. Pack a small cooler of water balloons, some squirters (which now come in many non-gun shapes), or some spray bottles and head for a park with plenty of grassy areas. You can organize games like a water balloon toss or just hand the kids a few water slinging toys and let them go to it!

Summer in the City

25 activities to beat the heat

by Lindsay Armstrong, Emily Frost, and Andrea Zimmerman

July 30, 2009

400x236.jpg

12

22.jpg22. Working Out and Cooling Off

Gyms are hurting for members, so many have been passing out free trial passes like candy. Find a gym that offers free childcare while you exercise – just check with other parents to make sure it is reputable.

23.jpg23. Bounce Around

What has two thumbs and lots of energy? A kid on summer vacation! Let your child burn some of that energy without getting burned at an indoor, bouncy playground. Companies like Bounce-U and Bounce-A-Rama have locations just outside of most major cities and offer reasonably priced tickets for an afternoon of jumping fun. If you’re worried about safety, Bounce-U even offers time slots geared towards the pre-school set so that they are only bouncing around with other little kids. Brilliant!

24.jpg24. Schedule Appointments

Ok, ok, so this isn’t a “fun activity,” but taking your child to the doctor or dentist during the summer months has a lot to recommend it. First of all, many people are out of town for the summer so it may be easier to get an appointment. Second, you won’t have to worry about scheduling it later during the hectic school year. Most importantly, the doctor/dentist’s office has two things you don’t: central air and new toys!

25.jpg25. Think Cool Thoughts

It may be a blazing hot summer day outside, but you can use your imagination, and a few films, to help carry you away to icier climates. Try popping in Happy Feet, Ice Age, or Eight Below to inspire cool thoughts. Eat a shiver-inducing snack like freeze pops while you watch. If your body temperature is still set on high, here is a weird little trick: place your inner-wrist against a cold glass or a piece of ice. It will instantly cool you off so that you can enjoy the rest of your movie-marathon.

In an effort to ‘go green,’ most cities are becoming more bike-friendly by expanding paths and lanes, and sponsoring free bike rentals. So, hitch up your trailer, hook on your child carrier, or grab a tandem and create your own gentle breeze as you coast along.

Article Posted 6 years Ago
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