The last time I was exposed to 37 degree heat was on a camping holiday in France. The cows were dying. I couldn’t keep hydrated enough and spent most of the time slumped in a folding chair. It was a national crisis. So when I realised that similar temperatures were forecast at home, I panicked a bit, then decided I need a survival plan – because this time I have kids to care for too. Kids who can get even more feral and even more grumpy (and potentially dehydrated/poorly) in this extreme heat. We need ice packs, we need cool snacks, we need a paddling pool. And at the end of the day, I’ll need a BIG G&T.
Here’s my plan:
1. Rig up some shade in the garden.
Maybe you have a fancy gazebo. I don’t, so I get out as early as possible and peg some big blankets and sheets on the washing line and drape them over the fence to create shady areas to play and sit out beneath. We have a shed/playroom in the garden so I get the doors open as soon as possible so it doesn’t overheat.
2. Nudism rules OK
Most of the time, I’m trying to keep clothes on the three year old, as she can spontaneously undress at any moment. Usually 60 seconds before the school run. Today, anything goes. Be naked, be free. Run around in a pair of pants or shorts only.
3. Cool snacks
I’ve got cucumber which can be cut into big wedges, like melon, plus carrot sticks, melon slices and houmous for chilled out snacks.
4. Fruit cocktail
My kids don’t have squash because it turns the eldest into a maniac and the youngest doesn’t like it. But they love the idea of having a fruit cocktail. It’s basically water, with ice, and a few slices of tangerine in it. They can drink as much of it as they like.
5. Paddling pool
Top tip for the paddling pool is to save your breath, and blow it up with a hairdryer on cool! Stick the paddling pool in the shade, fill with bath toys, stacking cups, watering cans, anything plastic that they want to take in. Yes. It will be filled with grass and bugs within 30 seconds but my naked feral beasts will be in and out all day keeping cool. Of course I’ll be keeping a close eye on them. If you live somewhere without a garden, or you don’t have a pool, run a tepid bath and have some fun in there instead!
6. Ice packs in socks
My kids love an ice pack to cool off with, pop it in a sock when you get it out of the freezer so they can hold it on their skin without getting ice burns.
7. Unlimited ice cream!
Sounds like a sugar nightmare but, it’s bloody hot. I stick some frubes in the freezer, buy tubs of frozen yoghurt or fro-yo lollies for a slightly healthier alternative. I also got some lolly moulds from IKEA which are amazing – I’ve made lollies with left over fruit puree pouches, fruit juice, yoghurt, even tinned custard.
8. Lots of water games
Our favourite is to fill up a load of balloons and tie them onto the washing line, like water balloon pinatas (see link here) The kids can squeeze them and slap them and splat them. It’s great fun and keeps them cool. Another good one if you don’t have a paddling pool is to find your biggest pan, fill it with cool water and let them splash and dip.
9. Keep out of the midday sun
I’m keeping the lounge blinds closed all morning, and the windows too, to keep the cool in. When it gets too hot outside, we’ll chill in the lounge for a bit with the fan on. Then we’ll repeat all of the above.
10. Before bathtime, get the sprinkler out
Give the kids one last chance to cool off and go crazy by sticking the sprinkler on! Let them run about in the cool water and get rid of any excess energy while you give the grass a bit of a drink. If there’s a hosepipe ban in your area, use some squeezy bottles (washing up liquid, or a sports bottle) and squirt them while they run about instead. Treat yourself to an ice-cold G&T while you’re at it – you’ve earned it!