The reason is that the unbearable heat indoors sent us outdoors as much as possible. Eighty-five degrees in the shade of a tree is more bearable than 85 degrees in a heat-trapped room with no breeze. If you’re lucky, you go swimming. If not, you dump water on yourself, or on your sister. Play under a sprinkler. Ride your bike down a hill really fast. You might still be hot but it’s not any worse than being inside.
With the AC keeping our home at a pleasant 70 degrees, why head out in the heat to find something to do? We will dream about this sun and blue sky in winter, but right now my kids are content to watch it from the cool side of a closed window. I get it. I remember as a kid dragging myself between the living room floor, front porch and backyard looking for relief, muttering rude things about my parents’ intelligence levels for not having AC.
But my best summer memories are all about the outdoors: the smell of cut grass, a pulley I built in a crabapple tree, the feel of summer rain, popsicles in the backyard. Could an air conditioned room ever be so great?
I’ve tried shutting down the AC lately to chase my family outside. And it’s worked! I’m not saying they are happy about it – I’ve heard plenty of rude remarks about my intelligence level. But it does get them out. When the doors and windows are open, our yard and back deck become extensions of our living space. I think we all have greater tolerance for the heat as a result.
Sometimes it’s a bit of a thermostat battle. Our house is built for central cooling, not natural breezes, so it can get awfully hot. I’m reasonable. The AC can be stay on when it’s really truly uncomfortable. But let’s try keeping the indoor temp at 74 or 75 degrees. I know my family is onto me when I suddenly want a sweater because the thermostat has been knocked down to a chilly 68.
Of course, when the windows are open, everyone can hear what goes on in our home. And you can bet that one of us will let loose with a major tantrum. Younger Son realized on his own that he was broadcasting his meltdowns to the entire street. He has started closing his windows for privacy when he is sent to his room.
I can’t speak for my neighbors, but I’d rather hear the sounds of children whining, dogs barking and couples bickering than the constant whir of HVAC units. It’s a reminder that we all have bad days. We don't have to be alone in our cool, closed up Colonials. If you head out, you just might find a sweaty mother with questionable intelligence playing outside with her children, who are are happily squirting her with a hose as payback.