Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer Routines & Staying Comfortable in the Heat

Oh, the lazy days of summer!  The days are warming up and with that, our warm weather routine has begun.  We don't use fans or air conditioning.  Our little solar panel system is just not large enough for that.  We have found that we manage well without them though.  It just takes planning.  Here is an overview for those who are curious as to how we deal with the summer heat without electricity.

I plan out the week's tasks thoroughly.  This allows me to get everything done, but in smaller increments.  My days begin early.  By 7am, I am awake and beginning my day.  The kids sleep in until closer to 8:30am.  By the time that they are awake, I have a batch of laundry on the clothesline.  I don't have a set "laundry day", but will do smaller loads almost daily.  This allows me to stay ahead on it while not having a large amount to do at one time.  The only exception is that I will plan a laundry day if there is large items, such as bedding, to be done at the laundromat. 

When the kids wake up, breakfast is often ready or staged to be a quick fix.  Some favorite summer breakfasts are muffins or some other pastries.  Pookie loves breakfast bars that have fruit in them.  I found a recipe for a very healthy breakfast bar that is much like an oatmeal cookie.  Instead of making it into the drop cookies the recipe directed, I make my own breakfast bars.  This is very easy!!!  As you place a generous spoonful of the cookie dough onto the baking sheet, pat it into a thin rectangle about 3"x 4" in size.  Thinly spread your favorite flavor of preserves along the cookie.  Fold over the cookie dough to make a 1.5"x 4" cookie.  Bake as recipe directs.  I recommend using fruit preserves in these instead of jam or jelly.  Preserves have more fruit to them and you can find low sugar varieties. 

After breakfast is squared away, we homeschool.  First up is the lessons that both kids are doing together.  I love the My Father's World curricula for the ease that it allows for me to adapt Little Miss' lessons into something that Pookie can participate in.  We do the Bible study portion together, along with our morning calendar.  When it is time for worksheets and other desk work, Little Miss goes to her workboxes and gets started.  As she is busy doing her independent work, I have one on one time to guide Pookie through his homeschooling.  I am adapting the worksheets that Little Miss is doing into a simplified version that Pookie is able to do, yet is challenged by.  After the independent work is done, we do artwork and I read books to both kids.  That rounds out their school day.

Afternoons are a lazy time for us all.  Being the hottest part of the day, we slow way down.  I have a cold lunch ready for when schooling is done.  Then the kids play in the water to get cooled off.  A hour long rest period comes next.  Naps are not required, but they are learning to take that rest time.  They listen to music, look at books, or watch videos quietly.  The important part is that they are learning to have that rest period during the warmest time of the day.  I have found that days in which the rest period is not utilized, the kids get more cranky.  Simply taking that break really makes a difference! 

Once their rest period is over, they have free time to play.  We have a shady yard and water toys for them to enjoy.  There is a lake about 13 miles from home that we can go to for swimming.  City parks, museums, and other locations are enjoyed in the afternoons.  I am planning those trips for the hottest days especially.  It is a perfect time for field trips! 

We are very careful with the heat.  At the store, we found the little scarves that you soak in cool water before wearing.  I have 2 for each person.  This allows us to be wearing one while the second is cooling in the water.  We have little battery operated fans.  The kids love the ones that include a spray bottle.  Pookie has a little fan that has a cover over it to prevent little fingers from touching the moving blades.  Little Miss and I both have the spray bottle types.  As soon as Pookie sees those in use, he is right there enjoying it also.  LOL

The key factor that is important is to be smart.  NEVER do heavier work in the afternoons, for example.  Save that work for early mornings.  Be alert to the heat index levels.  If there is an excessive heat warning, play it smart and have a back-up plan for staying comfortable and safe.  We never had air conditioning when I was a kid.  We learned to work in the mornings and take things easier in the afternoons.  Our family has been living off-grid 4 years now. Some summer days are pretty hot, but we manage it well. 

If your family were to have a power outage in the summer and unable to use electrical fans or air conditioning, how would you manage the heat?  Do you have a back-up plan in place?  What if the heat index was in the triple digits?  Do you and your family know how to safely manage?  

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