I love being outside with my little girls—going on walks, visiting parks and letting them roam on the grass. My toddler, especially, would happily spend hours and hours outdoors.
But over the summer, it's just gets too hot for outdoor play that last more than 50 seconds. Within minutes, we are all sporting rosy cheeks and sweaty heads.
Plus, there are only so many times you can hit the the pool or a splash pad before you're sick of getting changed into swimwear and then back into regular clothes, dealing with wet towels and hauling pool toys and sunscreen back and forth.
It can be tempting to spend the whole summer locked in the air conditioned house, but here are seven things we should all do instead to beat the heat.
It's a classic, and (for this former librarian) a no-brainer. The library offers story time, puppet shows, summer reading programs and a break from our own books and living room.
If you have an IKEA nearby, it's a fantastic place to spend an afternoon. Many of them have free kids meals on Tuesday, so that's even better!
3. A matinee
When it's 106 outside, going somewhere you need a sweater for seems like a complete luxury. Plenty of theaters do free or $1 movies during the summer for little ones. Spring for a bucket of popcorn and call it a morning.
4. A toy store
The local toy store is perfect for my toddler. She loves checking out the new toys, attending the activity times that they host, and it's good practice for not always getting something you want.
5. Play dates
One summer, a friend and I set up a standing play date once a week. We switched between our houses and it was a good chance for our little ones to practice sharing and play with some new toys. Plus, we got to chat for 90 minutes. Why didn't I do that this summer?!
6. A bookstore
Almost every Barnes & Noble I've been to has a train table, and since we don't have one at home, this provides endless entertainment. I can sit in a chair and read while she plays. Win-win!
7. The pet store
This is like a poor man's zoo. My child is fascinated by animals and it doesn't matter to her how big the store is. Bonus if there are dogs being groomed.
8. A sporting goods store
The first time my husband let my toddler tag along, I thought she'd be bored silly. A couple of hours later, she came back talking about the bikes she'd ridden, the helmets they'd tried on and the mini-golf they'd played at a display.
9. The fast food play place
We don't eat much fast food, so this is a special treat for my toddler. And playing on the indoor play equipment is even better than chocolate milk.
There is this play shopping cart at Target that my toddler loves. As soon as we arrive, she makes a bee-line for it and then pushes it around the whole time. She'd stay all afternoon if I let her (but it's not like I'm dying to leave Target either, let's be honest).