Sunday, July 24, 2011

weekly Column: Summertime's Doldrums

If the gray, frozen days of February are the usual host to cabin fever, July is giving us a second taste this year. 
With temperatures hovering near ‘absurdly hot’ for weeks on end, we’ve tried to play it safe weather-wise; if it’s not early morning or we’re not splashing in a mildly-cool swimming pool, we limit our outdoor hours.   We’ve stretched the bounds of how long we can stay outside, breaking down when our cheeks are feverishly pink and even the shade is miserable.  For the most part, that means we’ve been spending a record number of hours inside.
That’s fine for a few days, but just as with February’s doldrums, we’re getting bored.  And what is there to do inside on a hot, otherwise gorgeous summer day?
Apparently, there’s much arguing to be had.  There is plenty of whining, a fair dose of grumpiness, and a smattering of irritation. 
And that’s not even counting the kids’ moods. 
So how can we beat the dog days of summer (and their accompanying boredom)?  Here’s what I’ll be trying:
Find other venues
There are cool buildings scattered all over town just waiting to alleviate my family’s malaise.  And some of them will do it for free.  The library is the easiest answer, not only because they have thousands of books with which we can entertain ourselves; they also have plenty of activities and exhibits planned for the summer months.  We’ll also find time to cozy up to the mall, the pet store, a local conservation museum and maybe even a few bouncy-houses.  Consider them field trips, if you will – whatever it takes to convince you that you’re not merely loafing in their cool air.

Ask for ideas
The kids, while also bored and antsy to stretch their legs, may be our best source of inspiration.  I’ll be sure to ask them what they’d like to do, and I’ll do my level best to allow it.  Crafts for an entire day?  Why not?!  Transform the living room into a giant fort?  Sure!  Help mom clean out the closets to make way for new fall additions?  Absolutely!  (And if waiting to hear that last idea takes forever, I’ll move on to the next suggestion, which is…)

Include the kids in necessary work
While I have yet to try this out on older kids (and I assume they might be less receptive), my preschoolers are usually up for a good game of ‘sweep the floor’ or ‘wipe the mirrors.’  As long as it’s accompanied with some upbeat music or even a bit of friendly competition, they’re willing partners.

Make a temporary routine
I might sit down alone or with help from the kids, and create a plan.  I’ll pencil-in mandatory time each day for creativity (cooking, crafting, etc.), indoor physical activity, and relaxation.  Knowing that our days won’t just be spent waiting for something to happen next might carry us through the heat without noticing that we’re stuck inside.  For example, if there’s a movie to look forward to later, I can see that making our day feel less mundane.  Maybe a week planned in advance would be best, because then we can…

Hope for a reprieve
The heat has to end sometime, right?  And when it does, we’ll ditch the indoor plan, run outside, and get back to the glory days of summer.  Comfortably.


  1. You are a genius - I never even thought about the pet store. I think we may need to make a schedule as well. Too often I think we wither away the day with "play time" that is really just the kiddo playing cars on the floor while momma cleans, makes food, or reads a book. Not nearly as much fun as it could be!

  2. also, check your local town. There are some museums that are free or inexpensive, some cities have splash parks, sprinklers are always fun. I buy the party packs of bubbles and send mine outside in the sprinkler with a bottle to play. They love it!! If it is really too hot outside, try a cool bath in swimsuits. For the littles, this works every time. The novelty makes it more fun than normal!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?