Beat the Heat: Keeping a toddler entertained and mommy sane in a Florida Summer.

It’s that time of year again, the long end of a Florida summer.  It’s hot, sticky, and sweaty.  Except for the portion of the day it’s torrentially downpouring.  Before kids, I could just hide out on my couch binge watching shows.  But toddlers don’t like that.  Something I’ve learned as a mom of littles is that I cannot just sit all day in the house with them.  I get stir crazy by the late afternoon.  I like a plan, an outing, an adventure.  That’s not always possible.  But we’re making it work.  Here’s what we’re up to right now to keep us entertained and out of the heat.

At Home

Painting

I have found that I can keep little V at the table painting for up to an hour.  Here’s how I make it work:

  • I purchased a few colors of washable tempera paints as well as a cheap set of watercolors.  She likes both but you have a better shot at ‘pretty’ with the tempera paints.  The watercolors are a more difficult medium.
  • I have a giant roll of Kraft Paper  in my guest room.  I cut off a big piece and cover the table.  I could give my Kraft Paper roll its own blog post – the uses are endless. Buy one for $20 and elevate your life.  And I always have a pack of baby wipes on hand to catch messes that can’t wait until the end.  
  • I’ve learned along the way that you can waste a lot of paper during paint time.  I bought a multi-media paper sketchbook and explained that we have to stay on the same page until it dries.  This has helped to cut down on her needing a new paper after painting just three lines.  
  • If you want to make art projects that you can hang up, you’ll need to be ready to guide your kiddo through it.  Here are a few ideas from Pinterest that I like:
  • Now before you get started, repeat these words in your head:  This will be messy.  My child is not Van Gogh.  We are going to have lots of fun.

Making necklaces

This is another fun one that’s relatively cheap.  Here’s how I make it work:

  • I bought a few bags of big pony beads and put them in a giant ziploc bag.  You can buy whatever kinds of beads you want.  But the younger your child is the bigger you want the hole to be in the beads.  
  • For string I brought bright neon elastic cord. Obviously the string needs to be thinner than the width of the holes in the beads.  But stick to big string and big beads for little hands.  
  • Pour the beads into a big plastic chip and dip.  I had a bunch on hand from a previous craft workshop.  You probably have one in your kitchen!  I also think a big gladware that you can reseal at the end would be good.  Anything that allows them to search and pick through the beads without things spilling out and over is what you’re going for.
  • Have at it, make necklaces.  And bracelets! And anklets!  
  • After we make the necklaces if my daughter isn’t in love and wearing it around the house for days, I’ll unstring what we made and put back with the supplies.  Keeps us from running through things too quickly.

Forts

I give all credit to Dadlando on this one.  But they’ve spent tons of time this summer turning the playroom trampoline and slide into a fort.  Grab some extra sheets and blankets and you’re all set!

Baking

I found this very easy banana bread recipe that we’ve been making all summer.  It doesn’t require electric mixing so we mash it all by hand.  Baking with kiddos requires extra patience that things will be messier but it’s so worth it.  She is so excited to help and to eat the things she made.

 

Out and About

Here’s where we’ve been venturing out that keeps us entertained and in the cool a/c.

  • Crayola Experience Orlando:  Built in the Florida Mall, we’ve had a great time there.  It can be very busy but there is always enough room for everyone.  There are lots of activities for toddlers and young kids.  It’s also right next to Buca di Beppo which has great lunch specials.  If you get to Crayola in the morning and then head to Buca for lunch you’ve really made a day of it!
  • Orlando Science Center:  Located in Loch Haven Park, the Science Center has activities and exhibits for all ages.  They’ve recently expanded their KidsTown (geared towards kids seven and under) and it has been a huge upgrade!  My kiddos love playing in the orange grove and digging for dinosaurs.  
  • Mall Indoor Playgrounds: A few of the malls have indoor playgrounds and that has been a godsend for our toddler to run around and get her energy out.  That said, depending on when you go they will be incredibly crowded.  So venture at your own risk.  A few we’ve been to:
    • Altamonte Mall Playground (451 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701 by Shoe Carnival & Sears)
      • Be careful this is right next to those ride-on animals.  So your kid will probably beg to do that too.
    • Oviedo Marketplace Playground (1700 Oviedo Mall Boulevard, Oviedo, FL 32765 in the food court)
      • This is for really little ones, like 2 and under. Don’t bother if you only have bigger kids.
    • Florida Mall at Crayola Experience (8001 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32809)
      • Another stop  in the Crayola adventure, they’ve got an indoor play space in the mall.  It’s just outside the Crayola Store.

Tell me what you’re doing to keep things fun and cool this summer!