12 ways to beat the heat this summer

Leah Behrens is a stay at home mother of two children on the autism spectrum. She has a lifestyle blog where her parenting journey is often highlighted. Connect with her via her blog or Instagram.

It's almost summertime! The time to leave school in the dust, explore the great outdoors, and work on your summer tan! No wonder it's seemingly every kids' favorite season, right?! Unless, of course, sensory sensitives leaves them feeling personally victimized by the sun.

I have two children on the autism spectrum - each with their own unique sensory reactivity. One loves the heat, while the other finds the warmth to be torture. I too share my youngest's strong distaste for summer weather and I know we are not alone in this. In an effort help our family and yours ride out the heat waves - I've compiled a list of tip, tricks, and activities to keep us cool all summer long!

1. Summer-Friendly Fabrics

Beat the Heat

Dress for the weather! Thin and lightweight natural fabrics are the way to go! I've found the best fabrics to wear in the summertime are cotton and bamboo.

The fit and color matter too! You'll want to look for clothes with light dyes and prints. Dark tones attract the sun, so avoid black as much as possible. The fit should be roomy and breezy. An over-sized white t-shirt is ideal! Most pools will even let you wear them over your swimsuits.

2. Stay Hydrated

I know, "duh", right? We've all had the importance of drinking ample H2O drilled into our heads by every doctor that's ever lived! But how many of us are actually getting enough?

Make staying hydrated easy on yourself and your kids. If you don't have a fancy ice and water dispenser on your fridge door, keep a full pitcher of water in the fridge. Always have ice-cold water ready to go and easy to access. Another way to do this is to get each family member a reusable water bottle!

3. Meal Prep

If you're like me and are not blessed with a mansion of a house, using the oven can heat up the place very quickly. Limit your time slaving over a hot stove by meal prepping one day a week. Spend a couple of hours making a few different meals and then freeze them to reheat at meal time.

4. Frozen Snacks

Beat the Heat 2

It's no surprise that this tactic is my kids' favorite way to cool down. If I'm being honest, it's mine too! Some frozen snack ideas: Popsicles, frozen yogurt, flavored ice, ice cream and smoothies. There's also probably thousands of frozen snack ideas on Pinterest. Some of which can be made into a fun family activity - like making homemade ice pops for example.

5. Cool Baths and Showers

Who says baths and showers have to be warm? This is a great way to cool down yours or your children's body temperature. I highly recommend making bath time part of your nighttime routine. This way everyone is cooled down by the time they are ready to sleep. Studies show people sleep better when they are cool than when they are hot.

6. Freeze Your Sheets

Yes, you read that correctly. I am totally suggesting you put your bedding in the freezer. All you have to do is fold your sheets and pillow cases, put them in a plastic bag, find a place for them in your freezer, and then remake the beds right before bedtime! Crawling into ice-cold sheets feels like a dream after being out in the sun all day! Don't knock it until you try it!

7. Invest in Blackout or Energy Efficient Curtains

Beat the Heat 3

The science of this is simple. The less light you let into your home, the cooler it will be. I like to compromise though, because I very much like a bright home. Our family has blackout curtains in our bedrooms and/or heavy duty shades to block as much sunlight as possible. I will usually keep the curtains shut in the bedrooms all day, if I can manage to, so that at least those rooms stay cool. We spend most of our time in the yard or living room as a family most summer days anyway!

8. Fans

Turn on the fans in your house! Get the air flowing and circulating! If you don't have ceiling fans, get smaller ones to turn on - even if it's exclusively at night. Noticing a pattern yet? Can you tell we like to stay cool while we sleep?

Handheld fans also work wonders for when you're out and about! Keep one for each family member in your purse, beach bag, diaper bag, or even in the car so you don't ever forget them.

9. Water Activities

Pool days are perfect for staying cool while swimming off some energy! My kids both love the pool, but it's not an option for us everyday due to the fact that I need at least one other adult with me to feel like they are both being watched at all times. I know water safety is a huge priority in most families, but particularly autism families! So, I know I'm not alone in trying to find alternatives when you don't have extra help! Here are some ideas I've come up with that are maybe a little less stressful than a public pool…

First off, if you are still looking to get out of the house, splash pads could be the perfect substitute for the pool. Look up where some are around you! Many parks nowadays have had splash pads added on in the past few years.

Maybe venturing out into public isn't an option for you at all and you need some backyard activities. Turn on the sprinkler! Get a water-themed sensory table! Break out the squirt guns! Lay out the Slip and Slide! Have a water balloon fight(although I am not brave enough to help my kids with this one)! You can also look at Pinterest for activities with ice! I've found so many summer fun ideas on there!

10. Ice Packs and Washcloths

Beat the Heat 4

When you know you will be in the sun for a long period of time, put some ice packs or wash clothes in a cooler to bring with you. I remember learning this while watching the news YEARS ago. They were talking about what to do if you think someone or yourself may be on the verge of a heat stroke. Wrapping your feet and/or neck in a cold wash cloth or ice pack will help to quickly cool a person down.

11. Stay in the Shade

An easy trick to beat the heat would be to stay in heavily shaded areas while outside. I will usually stash our stuff in shaded areas at the pool or will camp out on a blanket under a tree when we go to parks. This way if anyone needs a break from the sun, we all have a designated area to recoup!

12. Public Indoor Activities

Try visiting indoor places around your city. There are plenty of fun things to do inside in the summer and still get a change in scenery. Some ideas of mine include museums, indoor bounce house arenas, arcades, play areas at the mall, or maybe you have some places around your area that are specific to your city! Go get your indoor adventure on!

Autism Speaks does not provide medical or legal advice or services. Rather, Autism Speaks provides general information about autism as a service to the community. The information provided on our website is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider and does not replace the advice of medical, legal or educational professionals. Autism Speaks has not validated and is not responsible for any information, events, or services provided by third parties. The views and opinions expressed in blogs on our website do not necessarily reflect the views of Autism Speaks.