By Tara Benwell on July 10th, 2008
Though we normally drag our air conditioner out at this point in July, this year it is still packed in the storage room below our shelf of ice skates. Neither my husband, nor I have made a move to roll it out, despite the temperatures hitting the usual Okanagan highs of 35+. Maybe I’m putting it off because our children are no longer babies and I know they can tell us when they feel too hot to get to sleep (which they haven’t yet). Or perhaps I’m just feeling a little nostalgic. Seeing them asleep on top of the covers with their hair stuck to their foreheads reminds me of my own childhood in Southern Ontario.
We were the only family I knew that didn’t have central air. Our common rooms had noisy ceiling fans, but if my brothers and I wanted a cooling system for our own rooms we’d have to buy a fan with our own money. I remember how Dad used to come down from his evening shower wrapped in his summer robe and smelling like Irish Spring. He’d tell us how refreshing a cold shower was, and we’d all groan and feel sorry for ourselves for not being invited to an air conditioned sleepover.
Bedtime was the hardest part about not having air conditioning. My mom used to give us wet washcloths to take to bed, but some nights I’d steal the squirt bottle that she used to spray the houseplants. I’d mist myself by my screened window, falling asleep to the sound of the bug zapper next door. During unbearable heat waves we’d drag our pillows down to the basement floor and wake up later than all of our friends.
Though I remember feeling jealous of our cooler neighbours, I’ll never forget how my father defended his decision, each time a visitor complained. It’s summer. It’s supposed to be hot. Give it three months and you’ll be complaining about how much snow there is to shovel. This leads me to think that perhaps, if we start early enough, we can condition our own kids to enjoy the breeze of the oscillating fan.
Today I found some good tips on beating the heat on the blog at the Eco Box website. This post inspired me to share some of my own ideas.
Tips for keeping your kids cool at bedtime without AC:
- Give kids a spray bottle (or water gun) to take to bed. (Bring one with you when you’re out of the house as well. Spritz your kids down in the car or when you’re out for a walk with your stroller.)
- On really hot nights throw damp sheets in the freezer for a short time before bed.
- Give young kids a quick sponge bath in cold water right before bedtime.
- Get one of those tacky old-fashioned outdoor shades for the front of your house. We rolled ours out for the first time this year and can’t believe the difference.
- Teach young kids to flip their pillow over to the cold side when they get hot.