Okay, let’s just state the uncomfortably obvious – it’s hot!  As the temperature rises to seemingly unbearable levels, so do the anxiety levels of anxious toddlers, and their desperate parents, who are often housebound by the heat and humidity. I think my wife summed it up best when she said you have to think of it as an extended series of snow days . . . in August. Our mission (and we have no choice but to accept it) is to find creative ways to keep our little daughter occupied and happy in the Great Indoors when venturing outside into the sweltering inferno is out of the question. Here are a few activities that help us all beat the heat.

Game On! It may be a simple concept, but our daughter always loves the challenge of puzzles and board games. Clear a large area on the floor or the dining room table and you’re in business.  Puzzles with shapes or foam puzzles with large pieces are great for starters. Add puzzles with more pieces as your toddler grows. These are fun activities that can involve the whole family as well.

Indoor Olympics. If you have a basement or an obstacle-free room in your home, you have the setting for a competitive event. See how long your little ones can keep a balloon in the air before it touches the ground. Who can toss the most beanbags into a trashcan in one minute? You get the idea. You can even award medals, ribbons or other simple prizes to the pint-sized athletes.

Shape Scavenger Hunt. We learned this one from our daughter’s preschool. Have your little ones search for objects throughout your home that are in the shapes of circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles (sometimes a hard one but have them look for the last slice of pizza or pie in the refrigerator). Whoever finds all of the shapes the fastest wins!

Matinee Movie Time. Although our daughter has seen most of her DVDs a few hundred times (at least it seems this way!), creating a theatre-like setting can create a fresh atmosphere. Even if it’s the middle of the day, close the blinds, dim the lights and find the comfy pillows and sleeping bags.  To complete the setting serve Peachy Keen Yogurt or Oh-So-Fun Frozen Fruit Cups. (Plus, while your kids are watching the big show, take your own opportunity to catch your breath and relax as well!)

Buddy Bakeoff. Get out the aprons and mixing bowls and get ready to help your budding bakers to create some treats that are fun to eat. We found that the beauty of this activity is that the kids have as much fun creating the treats as eating them! Try making Crispy Cheese Crackers or Whole Wheat Graham Crackers. Since this one always gets a little messy, we spread a few trash bags on the kitchen floor – makes cleanup a whole lot faster and easier!

The weather has been so torrid this summer that even taking our daughter in the backyard to play in the water sprinklers has often been unbearable. But when the heat is on and you’re stuck in the house, make sure cooler heads prevail by trying some of the activities above. Remember, when you help your little ones have fun, you are (literally) the definition of cool – and, more importantly, they will be too!