Tips for Staying Cool This Summer
After a long and tumultuous winter, it’s welcoming to have the fun, warm days of summer return. The summer season may start in late June, but the hot weather typically persists into the later summer months. It was in the late summer, usually right before the start of school, when I would try to pack my days with outdoor summer activities as a child. Some of my favourite memories are those of sunny days filled with exciting activities, like playing in the sandbox, swinging on the swings, or blowing billions of bubbles. However, after those fun-filled days, I not-so-fondly recall the long sting of sunburns—a painful result of my carefree summer play. As wonderful as it is to bask in the beauty of the sun, it’s also important to balance the warmth with shade and cooling activities.
HARNESS THE POWER OF WATER
Water is a necessity, especially during a hot day or after physical activity. The versatility of water is endless—you can drink it, swim in it, wade in it, or even use it as a medium for arts and crafts. Community splash pads or swimming pools are a great way to stay cool and connect with new friends. Access to a swimming pool may be difficult, so using a simple wading pool is a great alternative; it can be filled with water toys to play with, or even water beads as a cooling, sensory experience. Water blasters are also great for cooling down—use them to draw a “water mural” on the wall or sidewalk (it’ll dry up quickly, so you can make lots of them!). You can even make a water mural by using objects as “stamps,” dipping them (e.g., a shoe, leaf, or even your hand) in water and then stamping them on a blank sidewalk canvas.
EAT COOL FOODS
In addition to cold water, there are other food and drink options which are naturally cooling and refreshing. Foods such as apples, pears, grapefruit, bananas, celery, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and yogurt create a cooling effect when eaten. A smoothie with yogurt (or coconut yogurt), bananas, spinach, and berries is a great cool-down snack option. You can also create a smoothie bowl using fruits, granola, and nuts/seeds. Any leftovers can be frozen into a smoothie popsicle—just use an ice cube tray or silicon mould to make this an even cooler snack. Many herbs such as peppermint, chamomile, lemon balm, etc., are cooling in nature; they can be used on their own (e.g., iced peppermint tea) or added to smoothies, iced water, juice, or popsicles. A kid-friendly sangria can be made with green, chamomile, or hibiscus tea, along with frozen fruit and fresh herbs (e.g., basil or mint). Kids can be culinary wizards and whip up their own cool concoctions using fruits, veggies, and herbs—perhaps pick from the garden or choose a new fruit or herb from the grocery store. Another fun trick is making a colour-changing herbal lemonade (a “magic elixir”) using hibiscus or butterfly pea herbal tea. Add some drops of lemon juice, and it changes from purple/blue to pink!
WEAR COOL COLOURS
UV-protective clothing and long sleeves are a great way to shield skin from prolonged sun exposure. Colours like light blue and leaf green (or an ocean-inspired palette) are as pleasing to the eye as they are great for creating a cooling effect. The most physically cooling colour is white, as it reflects rays of light rather than absorbing them (as black does). Light and bright colours are also great alternatives.
ENJOY COOL & CALM SETTINGS
Summer nights are as beautiful as summer days and a great time for winding down. Go out at sunset and paint water murals using watercolour paper or cardstock. Paint the sunset background by blending hues of red, purple, orange, and blue. Then, use black to paint the objects in the foreground (e.g., trees or a swing set). You can even put together consecutive paintings in a frame or on a board—one painting each night over a week—to create a panoramic view of your outdoor landscape. Another idea is to spend an evening under the stars and use them as inspiration for crafts, such as star mobiles (made with popsicle stick stars or star-shaped almond cookies), or constellation paintings (use paints or crayons to create a galaxy background of swirled purples and blues, then draw dots on top with white or metallic paints). The night sky can also be used as a muse for creating a “moon catcher.” Just draw a moon or star and create cut-outs within it (like a snowflake) to let the moonlight shine through.
Outdoor crafting is a wonderful way to spend summer days, but it doesn’t mean you need to run the risk of sunburn or heat exhaustion. Have fun in the sun safely—if you want to stay outdoors during the hottest hours, then use shade, water, cool foods, and cool crafts. The summer season is short, so let’s celebrate it the best way we can with fun, friends, family, and “craftivities.”