August 20, 2012

Staying Cool With Kids

Every time I go outside today, I can't help but sigh over how absolutely pleasant it feels - especially after the stretch of 100-plus days we had recently. Such a relief.

But summer isn't over yet, and all that heat had me thinking hard about what there is to do with kids when it feels too warm to do anything.

1. Go Bananas
We invited another family with very young kids to this Lathrop indoor play area a couple of weekends ago. It was our first time. To adult eyes, it doesn't look too fancy - basically, a collection of the kinds of inflatable slides and bounce houses you often see at children's birthday parties. But, I have to tell you, the kiddos thought it was the most exciting place they had ever seen. They happily spent a solid two hours running and jumping and would have stayed longer if it was up to them. I especially liked the separate toddler play area, which even included a Pack 'N Play and a bunch of infant toys. Snacks are available for purchase. Don't forget to bring socks. (Oh, P.S., all the kids fell asleep on the drive back home. An extra treat.)

2. Story Time
I've written before about how much I love public library story hours. They're free, they're fun, and they're just a great opportunity to get out of the house and into the community, especially, I think, in energy-sapping weather. Come early to browse books and play with puzzles and other quiet games in the children's section.

3. The Mud Mill
Have you ever been? We haven't yet, but it's been highly recommended to me, and I'm super tempted. At the Mud Mill (in Lodi), you choose a piece of pottery from a selection of more than 300 designs, then paint it. Once you're done, the shop will fire and glaze your piece for you to pick up a few days later. Sounds fun, right? Check out their calendar for discounts and special events.

4. Museums
Does the idea of taking young children to a museum make you nervous? Me too, sort of. But, I think at the right time, on the right day, with the right preparation, it could be a totally rewarding experience. And, we're lucky to have some very family-friendly museums in our area. The Haggin Museum, for example, is pretty accessible, and its history galleries are especially fascinating to kids. Meanwhile, the World of Wonders Science Museum in downtown Lodi was designed for young people and features hands-on exhibits. Or, there's one of my favorites, the Children's Museum of Stockton.

5. The Afternaps
When it's really hot outside, the idea I always seem to default to is, "Let's go get ice cream!" or some variation, like, "Let's go get smoothies! or frozen yogurt! or iced coffees!" And that's fine, I guess. It's fun. It's a treat. But it doesn't exactly burn off any energy. Unless you can combine your treat-run with a mini-concert and dance party. We love The Afternaps. They play weekly at Empresso Coffee House.

So do you have tips on hot-weather activities for kids? I would love to hear them.
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