Thursday, June 26, 2008

Family Fun Friday: Free Places to Cool Off

While I don't want old people to die in their apartments like they did during the Lewinsky Summer, I have never really understood the concept of "cooling centers," where you are supposed to go and sit around in air conditioning. Public libraries have air conditioning and are full of entertainment, so why would I go to an empty government office to sit around doing nothing? I suppose they probably have TV there, but still -- the library has a ton of DVDs and viewing stations.

Being a stay-at-home parent does have its hidden expenses, and one of them is increased home utilities use during the day. So far in the summer of 2008 we have been lucky enough not to need our air conditioning once. In the spirit of extending that streak when the mild weather of past weeks inevitably comes to an end, here's a list of free and inexpensive places to take the kids in order to avoid running your own air:

-- The library. Duh!
-- The gym or YMCA, if you have a membership already. My inexpensive gym membership comes with childcare and has a computer room, so you better believe I'm there almost every day.
-- The park, especially if your park has a water feature.
-- The beach, if you have any. Here in the Chicago area, "cooler by the lake" is dogma. And it's true.
-- The grocery store. Remember when the "Married With Children" family set up their lawn chairs at the local supermarket? If your kids aren't big whiners and beggers, a leisurely shopping trip can be a refreshing break. And if you've already grocery shopped, there's always CVS.
-- The public pool. Ours is not cheap -- I think it's $9 per person per visit. But I bought season passes for my daughter and I (the baby gets in free) so at least I don't have to think about the cost every time we go. In Chicago, "tot" swim times are usually free at the public pools.
-- Museums. Using a pass from the library, free day, hitting a free museum, or visiting one where you already hold a membersip will get you out of the heat.
-- Um, the doctor's office? Schedule those annual check-ups for mid or late-July so at least when you're stuck waiting for two hours, you'll likely be avoiding some of the hottest weather.

Any other ideas out there?


Anonymous said...

I think the children's science museum in chicago having free admission for kids under 11 with paid adult thru 9/1? This would be a place to take the kids & their water play area for the little ones is awesome