Summer seems like such a great time for outdoor fun. I had planned a summer of minimal time inside. My theory – less time inside, less time making messes. I was determined to not let some heat keep us inside. Hashem had other plans.
First, there is just so much contradictory information out there regarding the benefits of being outdoors. I have read articles about how the body produces less cortisol, a stress hormone, when outdoors. Exposure to the sun is known to help in cases of seasonal depression. Being outdoors usually leads to increased physical activity as well, which is hard to come by in our sedentary, screens-everywhere, times. Outdoor air is usually cleaner than indoor air as well, according to scientific studies. (It turns out all our “stuff” emits almost undetectable odors which is not great for us). Armed with all this information, my plan was in place.
DISCLAIMER: Though I jokingly pretended to be a doctor in my first column, I am not one. You can follow this information as you would from any layman/friend. It is not professional advice.
Then came the mosquitoes. I know of several cases where mosquitoes almost killed someone due to the resultant West Nile Virus or cellulitis. So we spray ourselves up. But the spray is sort of poisonous also. And it barely works. I have had mosquitoes land right on top of where I just sprayed a minute ago. They were really aggressive this year. Little Amelekim.
Beyond the mosquitoes, the heat wave hit. I’d like to think that “a little heat” wouldn’t keep us inside. But when it’s close to 100 degrees, it’s hard to fight three kids (my littlest one can’t say “no” yet) to go outside when they rightfully argue that it’s so hot and they get bitten.
The one activity when we somehow avoid mosquitoes and heat is swimming. My children love going in the pool. I love it too- but not with them. I have a little ritual that I do with them and it’s cute and I love it. Then I’d like to put them down somewhere and swim. But I can’t. I usually end up holding at least one child for my entire “swim.” I end up “standing” rather than “swimming.” Add to that the hassle of getting everyone sprayed up with sunscreen – another chemically harmful substance –into their bathing suits, and schlepping snacks outside- the minute we get outside, someone usually proclaims, “I’m hungry” – and sometimes I just want to give up and let them stay inside. I usually have a good routine going until the Nine Days but can’t get back that rhythm afterwards.
So we did spend a significant amount of time inside this summer, I hate to admit. We had some time in parks and such. I just love the sound of my children running around outside, laughing heartily, basking in the sun and the freedom. I wish there were more of those times but I just don’t see how we could have done it without it being actually grueling and almost punishing for them.
I am trying to make up for it now that the County has sprayed- although I still see those little buggers – and it seems a little cooler. But who am I kidding? I’m counting down like everyone else to the time when my children won’t have time to watch any television anymore and consider themselves lucky if they catch some time on the swings afterschool before homework. We’ll try to make up for it at Sukkos anyway, if we can avoid the bees this year.