Kids in the Capital City

5 kid-approved ways to stay cool on Austin's hot summer days

5 kid-approved ways to stay cool on Austin's hot summer days

Children playing
It's all fun and games — until someone gets heat stroke. Photo by Alicia Vega

There’s no denying it — summer is here and it's hot as can be. While I, like many, used to ignore the heat and spend basically all of June through August indoors, kids don’t exactly abide by that schedule. Add to the mix that I’m pregnant and already uncomfortable, and we’re in quite a pickle here.

So what can you do to keep your kiddo entertained during these sweltering summer months? I’m still figuring it out, but here are my current go-to activities to avoid the heat.

Inside, reimagined
If your living room isn’t cutting the mustard for your miniature, adjust. While Thinkery is, of course, the old standby, busy summer months make it pretty difficult to enjoy. So I’ve turned to a few alternatives. Little Land boasts several locations throughout Austin, with Montessori-based toys and slides and sensory activities for all ages. If you’re looking for a coffee break while your baby plays, Dripping Springs’ Almost Grown Play Café can’t be beat. With a wide variety of make-believe toys and a full coffee/snack bar, it’s a great place for a playdate. Finally, there’s Target. I’m kind of kidding, but you better believe my two-year-old knows we're at Target from the second we pull up. What better way to kill an hour than by browsing the aisles and spending money you didn’t intend to? Start ‘em young, I say.

Just add water
It sounds like a no-brainer that water activities are a must, but unless you’ve been six months pregnant in the middle of a Texas summer, you can’t fully appreciate just how important it is to be submerged in cold water as frequently as possible. My son doesn’t swim yet, but we strap on some floaties and head to the pool or splash pad as often as possible. Besides our local YMCA (we’re there three times a week), a favorite of ours is the Hill Country Galleria, wherein kids can splash until their hearts' content, browse the Bee Cave Public Library afterwards, and grab ice cream at nearby Whole Foods. Central Austin’s Bailey Park is another great option. And of course, if you’re looking for an old Austin staple, you can’t beat Deep Eddy Pool.

We all scream
Sugar avoidance, be damned. Sure, like most moms, I try to feed my child healthy foods. I wage war with his limited toddler palate on a daily basis (and often lose), but I put up a good fight. However, as far as summer is concerned, mama’s playing it a little fast and loose with the rules when it comes to cold, delicious treats. What’s more refreshing than enjoying a nice cold popsicle on a hot day? Nothing. Nothing is. What about a nice scoop (or bite, in his case) of ice cream? Not a thing. If mom has to suffer through this summer, she’s doing it with sugar, and little bud gets to reap the benefits.

No-shame screen time
On those days where it’s truly brutal beyond belief outside, I let Elmo take the wheel. I’m not proud, but I’m not ashamed, either. I’m creating another human, and if my child wants to watch Toy Story, I’m not going to fight it. As long as mom gets some air-conditioned rest, you go ahead and soar to infinity and beyond, buddy.

Get creative
I’ll admit, this isn’t my strong suit. Dad’s the one in our house who gets creative, while mom brings the snuggles and fun outings. So when I try to avoid screen time, I try to think outside the box (with the help of @busytoddler on Instagram). We make Play-Doh. We paint. We color. We “cook.” It’s not rocket science by any means, and please, if you have any suggestions, send them my way.

As my exhaustion increases with nearly every passing day, I’m genuinely unsure how we’ll make it through the summer. But I’ll sure as hell try. If not, Buzz, Woody, and the gang will be there to get me through.