The British are famous for many things, one of which is an almost unhealthy obsession with the weather. Various stereotypes around the world depict us as a nation of corn chewing yokels leaning on five-bar gates waxing lyrical about how the rain is playing havoc with the cattle (or is that just me?), but the UK Summer of 2018 has been as hot as many of us can remember.
As an adult it’s been hard enough to cope with the heat and humidity for long periods of time, but our children can struggle massively without assitance from their parents. I asked some of my Dad friends for their tips to share with you those tricks and dodges we’ve come to perfect when the mercury rises!
Get them in the shade
Many Dads I spoke to say their first challenge is to find somewhere in the shade. Andrew, who sent me the photo above, says that he invested in a big parasol for his garden that can move about when the son does. It means he can keep his boys out in the garden for eating and playing without overheating, which is a big plus!
No, not a quote from a well known Irish-based comedy, but a vital tip from a lot of our Dads. Keeping your child hydrated when the temperatures rise is very important. Babies can take small amounts of cooled boiled water alongside their milk (take advice from a medical professional on very young babies first!), but drinks aplenty are well recommended. I personally found that my children’s love of sneaking the ice out of my glass came in useful when they quite happily suck on ice cubes as well.
As a lover of hot curries, I’ve found it very handy over the years to use our freezer to keep certain useful items at a soothing temperature shall we say! But it can be very helpful to get the temperature of bedding and clothes down too. Of course be very careful with extreme temperatures when dealing with young children, but a short blast of a bedsheet or mattress protector in your freezer can be as good as a cold water bottle. Mind you, I did find myself filling my hot water bottle with ice over the summer to keep the bed cool; it sort of worked, but a localised cold spot is not the same as a nice cold bed!
Fans, fans everywhere!
I have two large fans, one for each of my children’s bedrooms, but they always seem to move the problem rather than help to solve it. A Dad (who wishes to remain anonymous) said to point the fan out of the window, so it blows the heat out rather than just moving the hot air; I tried it, and it does work so thank you for that!
Another Dad, Simon, has rigged up reusuable plastic ice cubes in front of fan, to blow cool air around bedrooms at nice; the reusable ones stop the mess that melting ice would ordinarily bring. In addition, fellow Dad Gareth has filled a 500ml (about 18 fl oz for our American cousins) bottle with water and frozen that for the fan to blow over with similar success.
Ready, set, get wet…
Adam sent me the above picture with the caption “this helps!” and he’s spot on. Swimming is a fantastic activity to take part in with your children anyway, and it’s brilliant for keeping the little ones cool during the hottest times of the year. You don’t need to have a pool in your back garden, but a trip to your local pool, beach or even (clean!) lake/river is well worth the effort.
Of course it doesn’t have to be swimming, as I know my two like nothing more than throwing buckets of water over each other (and me!) as well as getting hold of the hose when there isn’t a ban in place. I never complain about having a good old soaking in hot weather and funnily enough neither did they.
Much, much more besides
Of course if I was to list out absolutely every bit of advice I had about surviving the summer heat with young children you’d have stopped reading by now. But there are many, many ways in which you can help your children cope when the thermometer creeps up to uncomfortable levels. If you have a super tip that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below or start a thread in our new forums to share your wisdom far and wide.