By MICHELLE SCHMIDT
Whether you’re counting down the days until school starts with dread or delight might depend on how much time you and the kids have spent confined together within the walls of your home.
If September can’t come too soon and you need some ideas to get through the next few weeks that don’t involve Netflix or a bottle of sunscreen, consider these options to beat the heat:
1. Go get a treat — by foot. Ask the kids if they want to go for a walk and the response will likely be less than enthusiastic. Offer ice cream, however, and the tune changes. Sneaky grown-ups combine the two, leading with the treat. Find someplace within walking distance that offers something refreshing the kids will enjoy, whether it’s ice cream, a soda or even a midafternoon appetizer or dessert at a sit-down restaurant. Then head out from your home and explore the neighborhood on your way. Truly removed from civilization? Bring a backpack with a snack.
2. Camp inside. Sure you can set a tent up outside, but your yard doesn’t have air conditioning or any sound barrier for the birds serenading you at 4 a.m. Besides, kids will have fun using sheets, blankets, tables and chairs to create a tent of their own. If you’re lucky, they might even clean it up when they’re done.
3. Throw a movie party. Watching movies may seem like the lazy way out, but add a few friends and a good snack and you’ve instantly transformed it into legitimate summer fun. Whether planned or impromptu, this is a sure (and easy and cool) summer hit.
4. Visit a museum. One thing museums have going for themselves in the summer is air conditioning. The other thing is old, sometimes weird artifacts that might catch your kids’ imagination. Sure, some of it may be lost on them, but if you have fun on the visit, there’s a good chance they will too.
5. Take a short hike in the trees. On hot days outside, you’ll want to head either to the river or the mountains. Field Springs State Park, Kamiak Butte and Elk Creek Falls are just a few of the places to find family-friendly trails that hold the possibility of shade and cooler temps. Bring water and, of course, a snack to keep everyone moving.
6. Make popsicles. Homemade popsicles are classic, whether you use a recipe with a few ingredients and steps or keep it simple with plain old fruit juice. Lack popsicle forms and patience? Pull out the blender and throw in frozen fruit, milk and/or yogurt. You almost can’t go wrong and you could have a bit of fun trying.
7. Go bowling. Many local lanes participate in the national Kids Bowl Free program that allows kids to — you guessed it — bowl free. Shoe rental and adult fees aren’t included, but on the plus side, if you take the kids, you get to use bumpers without looking like a fool. Check at your local bowling lanes to see if they are a program participant.
8. Write a book. Most kids aren’t eager to pen the great American novel while on vacation, but they might be willing to tell and illustrate silly “just for fun” stories or create a written scrapbook about their summer adventures, real and imaginary.
9. Do a treasure hunt. There are about as many takes on this classic as there are days left in the summer. Your hunt can be inside or outside, involve a series of prizes or buried treasure, you can come up with an elaborate plan or you can have one of your kids make it happen. If there’s “treasure” and a hunt, it’s a success.
10. Go roller skating. Sure, you can do this outside if you’ve got roller skates or leftover rollerblades from the 1990s, but if you head to the skating rink, you’ll be out of the sun and heat. Plus, there’s a disco ball. Kids don’t know how to skate? Even better — now it’s your turn for some entertainment.