I hate summer.
I know, I know, the horror. How dare I speak such words! I know everyone is always so excited about summer – the weather, the sun, the beach trips, the vacations, the later sunsets. I get it, I really do. Mentally, I agree, all those things are great. I thoroughly enjoy daily hikes, paddleboarding and kayaking, and just generally being in nature. But physically, that’s a big, fat nope from me. And my poor son is the same way.
Not Built for Heat
I can remember one day at recess in the second grade. It was the end of the school year, a nice sunny day, and I was in the nurse’s office. Why? Because it was too hot and humid for me, and I was throwing up on the playground. I even remember when I came back out, three of my friends were waiting for me outside, excited and bouncing when they saw me nearing the exit. This was not a rare occurrence.
Another time when I was young, I went to Buffumville Lake with my family, and while everyone else was running around and playing, I was laying on the blanket and trying to sleep. My father asked me what was wrong and why I wasn’t up with everyone else. I tried to groggily explain that I didn’t feel good, I was exhausted, and I had a bellyache (aka, I wanted to vomit). Most times he made me get up, but I guess I looked extra crappy because he let me sleep that time.
I know many people love to just sit in the sun on the beach and maybe even nap. I was like that in my early 20s – I’d set an alarm so I could turn, and I would promptly fall asleep without even trying. I’d turn once, jump in the water, drink some ice water, and go back to sleep. I would do this for hours until it was time to drive home. Looking back now, I have no idea why I did this to myself (my skin OR my body), but I always felt like crap and I have zero intentions of ever doing this ritual again.
So here we are now, in my 30s, with children. For the last 10 years, I have spent less time at the beach and more time in the mountains. But I still suffer the same, and so does my poor son. We overheat the second we move. It doesn’t matter how much water we drink, and it doesn’t matter how light our clothing is. We are just not built for temps over 73 degrees.
I love hiking. I have been hiking for years and I started hiking with my children when they both reached 3 months old. My son will be 4 at the end of August and my daughter is 18 months. They’ve been doing this with me for a while. But this is the first year my son isn’t being carried in the carrier and is doing everything all on his own. We tried here and there last year, but 85% of the time we ended up carrying him. (I say “we” but it was really my boyfriend who carried him while I carried the baby and the CamelBak.)
Making it Work
So how does a person in this situation handle anything? I can’t say this is the right answer for everyone, but this is what works for us (or at least seems to right now).
Aside from appointments, we plan our days by the weather. Sometimes a wrench may get thrown into our plans, and we adjust. We always bring plenty of extra water and “cooler” snacks like fruit and applesauce. I make sure my son has his flipflops just in case he heats up too quickly but can’t be barefoot.
We plan most things for the morning, like hikes, walks, or any outdoor activities that do not involve playing in the water. If we have a long hike, we leave early to start early. Even though we will NOT be able to escape the heat/ humidity, at least we won’t suffer for the entire duration of our hike. We find shaded areas to go for smaller walks. We save errands for the afternoons, usually after naptime. That way, we are in the A/C in the truck and store. If we stay inside for longer than intended, we read, we build, and we generally do things that do not involve the TV being on. Let’s be honest though, sometimes the TV saves ALL of our sanity.
Some afternoons we go play outside in the little plastic pool I got for them. I put the pool half in the shade, half in the sun, fill it, and let them go to town. Meanwhile, I hide in the shade with water and the hose, spraying them randomly when they get out to play on their playsets. We are lucky to have friends who live on Webster Lake (Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, and yes I can say it!), so sometimes I will take them there to float around until we turn into prunes. Playing in water, even if it’s just the hose, can save almost any hot afternoon!
So for those of you who love this weather, enjoy every minute of it! For those of you like my son and I, we see you, we feel you, and we are here melting with you.