Keeping Cool: 2013 365 Challenge #198

The tools need to keep preschoolers cool

The tools needed to keep preschoolers cool

We  have enjoyed yet another day of 30+ degrees today. In England! It’s unheard of. British weather is meant to be wellies in June and jumpers in July. My kind of weather. But, no. Two weeks of sun, blue skies and hot, hot, hot.

I’d say the standard British line, “Not that I’m complaining” but I am, of course!

I make no secret of the fact that I am Scandinavian in my soul, if not in my genes. I like it fairly cool. Something between 15C and 20C is just fine. If I don’t have to do anything, you can raise it to 22C, as long as there’s a pool for me to cool off in, and plenty of ice-cold fizzy drinks.

And that was before having children! Now? How do you keep energetic preschoolers cool and covered in sun cream? It’s a mystery. Well, I thought I’d compile my top ten favourite ways of keeping the kids safe and happy, and me out the sun (as the children will tell you, “The hot makes Mummy grumpy”.)

1. Paddling pool. It’s a must. With a slide is even better, for prolonged fun, although that increases the need for plasters, cuddles and something to stop the decking being quite so slippery. We have two paddling pools, a big one (with a leak, that needs re-inflating often) and a little one for every day.

2. Non-muddy puddles. We have a dip in our patio (by design, of course! cough cough) where water gathers. Fill it with a bucket of water and instant puddle jumping.

3. Hose-pipe fight. No explanation required.

This is me: hot cross bunny

This is me: hot cross bunny

4. Sand-pit. Our sandpit is in the shade most of the day (or can be made shady with a brolly and pegged-up towels). It is messy: a blind eye needs to be turned to the spreading of sand outside the sandpit for this activity to last more than five minutes without my intervention.

5. Picnic in the playhouse (much-needed shade and quiet time although it can get a bit hot and stuffy)

6. Ice cream. It doesn’t have to be unhealthy – I have frozen blended strawberries and bananas, although I’m not a parent that worries about a bit of sugar, so the shop bought ones are fine. Two or three mini milks throughout the day cools them down and minimises the whining when the ice cream man rings his bell at 6pm

7. TV. Sorry, this is a must. Our lounge is the only vaguely cool room after 11am and regular stops for TV or iPad time keeps us all from going crazy

8. Craft at the kitchen table. Something simple. Today we made crowns and masks (the latter a really easy kit thing that didn’t need much help)

9. Puzzles in the lounge. See number 7.

10. Trip to the supermarket. That might seem odd but a) the car has air con (although probably more effective for me than the kids) and b) the supermarket has air con. I wouldn’t make a special trip, unless they were really driving me nuts, but calling in on the way home from a play date this afternoon, it was genius.

What other tips can you suggest for keeping cool? I think I still have a few days left of the heatwave to survive before British Autumn arrives!


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


Claire climbed out of the Skoda and stretched, cricking her neck left and right to release the tension. Driving north on a Monday had been a crazy thing to do, but she’d followed the impulse without questioning it too closely. That might be a mistake. She shrugged. It didn’t feel wrong.

Reaching in to the passenger seat, Claire grabbed her bag, then – checking she had the keys in her hand – she locked the car door from the inside and shut it with a slam. Time to get to work.


Two hours later, Claire left the salon and shook her head, feeling her tamed bob skimming her shoulders. It seemed frivolous to pay someone to wash and straighten her hair, but it hadn’t been done since she’d had it cut. Pushing away an unwelcome memory, she brushed her hands down her new dress, admiring the way it clung to curves she hadn’t realised had developed with her travelling regime of climbing hills and forgetting meals.

There was one stop left. Claire entered the department store and headed for the beauty department.

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” The face beaming at her looked ready for a stage performance rather than a day behind a cosmetics counter. Claire hoped she wasn’t the woman she was after.

“Yes please. I’m trying to choose a new foundation, I wonder if you can assist me?”

“Of course. Would you like our make-up specialist to give you a demonstration?”

Forbearing to suggest she wasn’t the only one who needed some hints and tips, Claire nodded. Mission accomplished.


Claire pushed through the glass doors, ignoring the pinch of her new heels and the stab of guilt when she thought of the thirty pairs locked in storage not too far away.

Oh well. This is important. And you can never have too many shoes. The thought was automatic, but felt alien in Claire’s mind. It had been months since she’d worn anything other than hiking boots or pumps. Her calves ached with the unaccustomed stretch of four-inch heels. No pain, no gain. The additional height was important.

Claire approached the steel structure of the reception desk. Designed to intimidate, Claire refused to let it do so.

Smiling down at the seated receptionist, she forced her face to relax. “Hello, I would like to see Mr Thurman, please?”

“Do you have an appointment?” The woman wore her expression like a steel mask.

Claire swallowed. “Can you tell him that Claire Carleton is here to see him?”

Without unbending her features, the receptionist reached for the phone, while Claire tried not to fidget. She watched the receptionist’s face, but her inscrutable expression defied interpretation.

Receptionists must make good poker players.

Claire’s stomach churned and she wished she’d had lunch. Gurgling was not going to add to her presence.

After a short wait and a terse conversation, the receptionist replaced her handset and looked up at Claire. A faint hint of surprise registered in her lifted brows. “Mr Thurman has asked you to go straight up.”

Heart hammering like a night club beat, Claire walked to the lift and resisted the urge to check her hair or makeup in the reflective surface to her left. The lift doors opened with a hiss and she walked in, back straight, head high. As the doors closed behind her, she slumped against the glass and inhaled deeply.

Come on, you can do this.

All too soon, the lift deposited her at her destination. Squaring her shoulders once more, Claire strode from the metal box and walked across the office floor. She felt eyes tracking her progress, and heard the susurration that followed her, as heads bent together and speculation ran rife.

Outside the office, Claire paused, before lifting her hand to knock at the door. Damn. Forgot the manicure. Bugger.

Dropping her hands, she curled her fingers in to hide the plain, short nails that jarred with her otherwise immaculate image.

“Come in.”

The terse voice called from behind the door. It sent shudders through Claire, emotions fizzing along her nerve endings.

Claire pulled the door open and walked unhurriedly inwards to take a chair. When she had positioned herself, knees together, hands clasped in her lap, back rigid, she looked up. Pouring three months of hard life lessons into her glittering smile, Claire met the eyes staring at her from behind the desk.

“Hello, Carl.”


2 thoughts on “Keeping Cool: 2013 365 Challenge #198

  1. We usually resort to the air con reasonably early, as otherwise everyone is just grumpy! Yup, going outside between about 10 and 3 (unless it’s for swimming) is impossible, sometimes even longer right in the middle of summer.

    Not that I wouldn’t love some of that warm weather right now. It’s cold here! (And you’d probably be as disbelieving of my idea of cold as I am of your idea of hot. 🙂 )

    • We might have to get some kind of air con unit as the weather doesn’t look like breaking any time soon. Kids’ bedrooms are around 28C at night and I’ve found daughter on the landing asleep a couple of times. I think the problem in this country is that we don’t get extremes of weather very often, so are no more prepared for 30C heat than -10C in the winter (not that long ago it didn’t get above 10 in the daytime!) I went to buy more shorts for my son today, as I’m struggling to keep enough clean pairs, and the shops have moved to autumn stock already – all trousers and jeans!

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