How to Survive a Hot Summer with Kids

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Starbucks through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Starbucks, all opinions are my own

If we were still at my parents house in Las Vegas, this would be a very short list and mainly say, “Swim in the backyard pool every single day.”
Sadly, now that we’re in Phoenix, our pool access has turned into a small above-ground hot tub (Ella calls it “the canoozi”) which is about 100 degrees even without being turned on, so it’s pretty toasty out there.
I’ve started pulling out all my old Texas tricks for keeping from going stir crazy with the girls when it’s super hot outside.

how to survive summer with kids

  • The Library. You know this is first on the list. We happily live really close to the library and it’s a pretty good one, so we’ve been at least once or twice a week since we got here (ALSO! This library has a 100 item limit which pretty much made my life and made Bart tremble in fear). Most libraries have a lot of fun summer programs too, and we’ve gone to storytime and crafts and sometimes just to do puzzles and play on the touch-screen computers.
  • A trip to IKEA. In Texas, we lived about 5 miles from IKEA, and I took Ella every single week for free lunch and then to play in the kids displays (while I read a book). Now we’re also pretty close to IKEA, so every Tuesday we head over for some free kids meals and Ella is finally tall enough to go to Smaland and thinks it’s the best thing on earth (she also thinks it’s called Legoland), so I drop her off for a little while there, and Ani and I have a little rare one-on-one time.
  • A Little Outing for Snacks. My girls are food-lovers through and through (it’s like they are my children or something. . . ). When it’s hot, I’m just so happy to sit down somewhere air-conditioned and let my children eat. Last week, after a delightful double meltdown at Barnes & Noble, we stopped in at Starbucks to try out the new Starbucks Teavana® Shaken Iced Teas. There are a bunch of flavors like Teavana® Shaken Iced Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade™, Teavana® Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade™, Teavana® Shaken Iced Black Tea Lemonade™, but we went with the non-caffeinated Passion Tango Lemonade. I don’t ever need caffeinated children, but I especially don’t need them 30 minutes before naptime. And obviously, we had to get a cookie and a chocolate croissant (which I shared with Ani until she started digging out the chocolate with her finger and then she was banned). 
  • Summer Movies. Most movie theaters have some sort of inexpensive kids summer movie program. Last week, on Ella’s birthday we saw Horton Hears a Who for the kingly sum of $4 for the three of us. And then because we hadn’t had time to stop and get a treat beforehand, I let Ella pick out one candy at the counter without looking closely at the price and then died a little when a single box of Junior Mints cost me $4.25. Never again. It was Ani’s first time in a movie theater and she did a remarkably good job.
  • Community Pools. Chandler has some amazing (and CHEAP!) community pools. A few weeks ago, we all went on a Saturday morning. Ani was free, Ella was $1, and Bart and I were each about $2. It had a pool, a huge water playscape, and a lazy river, and we all loved it. Especially the lazy river. I’m trying to figure out if I can swing both girls on the lazy river by myself some afternoon. I’m dubious.
  • The Pet Store. I swear, you’d think we were at Disneyland. My girls go CRAZY when we go in there and we could just do laps around the store all afternoon. If it’s one of the ones with a boarding area for dogs, my girls are especially thrilled and will stand in front of the window watching the dogs run around for at least 20 minutes. You’ll know if you’re in the same pet store as us by the piercing shrieks of excitement every ten seconds.
  • A Bookstore. I love a bookstore for different reasons than I love a library. The books are displayed differently and there are plenty of new, popular titles (whereas they’re generally checked out from the library). And there are often toys, a train table, and sometimes even a cafe attached. Plus, lots of them have special events or storytimes just like a library. When my mom was here, we visited Changing Hands, which is an amazing local bookstore in Arizona.
  • Bowling. It’s air-conditioned, and with bumpers, a super-light ball, and one of those little ramps, even a baby can do it. My girls love going (we first went this spring and Bart and I were both amazed by how much they enjoyed it) and it’s just not very expensive (usually a few bucks a game and the places we’ve gone don’t have shoes small enough for my girls, so I don’t even have to rent shoes). Plus, the AMF bowling centers have a free bowling program for kids all summer, so that makes it extra super cheap (or. . . free).
  • Target. When all else fails, the toy aisle at Target can buy me a good 45 minutes of happy children. I’ll admit to bringing my Kindle and reading while my girls test out every toy on the shelf. And if I need to pick up some urgent supplies like nail polish remover and wrapping paper, well, I can do that too.
I also put together a pinboard with a bunch of drinks and other summer treats to keep cool with, if you want to check it out:
And, of course, if YOU have great ideas of things to do when it’s approximately 183 degrees, you should probably share them with me.

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  1. Haha I love how we were on similar wave lengths with "surviving hot summer" posts this week! Also this might blow your mind, but wake county library has no limit on how many books you can take out! *gasp* right?!

  2. Baltimore libraries also have a 100 item limit and Bryan and I had the same reactions as you and Bart. I haven't lost anything yet so here's hoping. 🙂

  3. The library we used to go to had a 100 item limit, but at our current library you can only check out 50 items at a time. It is a weekly struggle to take back enough things so I can check out all of our items on hold.

    (Also, I love how they spelled your name. Your actual spelling is much, much prettier.)

  4. There was a pet store in a mall where I grew up where you could "check out" a dog to walk for an hour (it was an outdoor mall). Pretty genius idea if you ask me: the pet store gets people to exercise their animals for free and people get a sliver of owning a pet without actually having to own a pet.

    Do they have splash pads at parks in Arizona? There's a pretty nice one at the park near where I live. It looks so fun, I want to go there!

  5. When it's a bajillion degrees outside you can always go to a splash pad! There's tons of them in Phoenix. The closest one to us is Desert Ridge, but if you're near Ikea then there's probably a different one closer to you.

  6. The lame thing about AZ this time of year is they start closing the public pools even though it is still hot, but have you tried the Nozomi Aquatic Center on Kyrene right off the 202? We LOVE that one. Also, there are lots of great splashpads. One of our favorites is Tempe Beach Park splashpad, which is free (don't go on Fridays, too many school groups). There's a Pump It Up in Tempe, right off the I-10 near IKEA and there are groupons to make it really affordable (Ani would be free I believe). Culture passes for the Children's Museum or Zoo (splashpads) are great also. Before you leave AZ, you should get a Pizookie at Oregano's (and the Pablo Picasso salad, in my opinion). 🙂

  7. I love this post! You gave me a few new ideas for how to survive August in the desert. Thanks! One of our favorite summer drinks is a watermelon slushie: cube the watermelon, freeze it, then put it in a blender with a *very* small hint of lime, and voila! Happiness in a cup.

  8. How cute. I grew up in the Phoenix area. I have scar tissue in the bottom of my feet to prove it! So I know how challenging summers are. Pools were essential. Seriously, AZ summers stink royally. We only moved here because 25 years ago, real estate was super cheap compared to California. And then, the weather is fantastic 8 months out of the year. We didn't have to suffer five feet of snow like other parts of the country. Hang in there, England will be here before you know it. 🙂

  9. Does the pool have life jackets? If so, you can do it! Obviously you need to stay with them, but it's just enough extra help to make two at once possible.

  10. I am so jealous–all the Chandler pools closed before I could get there (we're going to Gilbert next week). Glad you got to enjoy! Make sure you hit up Bahama Bucks while you're in AZ! My parents own locations in Tempe and Mesa.

  11. The Mesa Southwest Museum is fantastic!! It's in Downtown Mesa and is really inexpensive. Three levels with dinosaurs and even a gold panning area. The Children's Museum in downtown Phoenix is a fun day trip with art projects and a freeing place for moms and kids to let their hair down and enjoy exhibits tailored to them. It's close to the Arizona Science Center. The Science Center is probably a little too old for your girls but it might be worth it on First Tuesdays, when it's free. The libraries here also have Culture passes to different museums and art galleries that are for two adults for free. It's worth it! Desert Oasis pool is small and would be perfect for you and just the girls but it is now closed on weekdays since we are all back in school and is now open on Saturdays and Sundays. It is attached to an Elementary school and Jr. High in a small neighborhood. Desert Breeze Park in Chandler has a fun little train, a duck pond and fun toys for early mornings and Freestone Park in Gilbert does too. Early morning picnics are a blast and then allow for earlier naps!!!
    That's how we desert rats roll!!

  12. If you are in Maricopa County, the library system has culture passes, which are two free admissions to local museums. You just check them out at the desk, I think they are normally located near the door. Some of the Museums would be tricky with kids (I wouldn't recommend the Phoenix Art Museum since I got yelped at for standing too close to a painting, oops) but the Heard has some kid friendly activities and so does the Mesa Museum of Natural history. You can also get them to the zoo and the botanical gardens, both of which are awesome, but they are outside, so hot. Although I believe the zoo opens at 7 am until September. Also, amen to the person who mentioned Bahama Bucks. Get the Bahama Mama Rama! The closest location from where I live is about 20 minutes away and it is seriously worth the drive! The Mesa temple also has a visitors center, which is always nice. And it'd about 5 minutes from Bahama Bucks ;).

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