Does your island have different types of weather on different areas of the island? My rock in Fiji definitely does.
One side is known for its wet weather and the other side of the island is known for being hot and dry. I’ve lived on this rock for practically all of my life. I was born and bred on the dry / hot side, but now I live and work on the wetter side of the rock. Even though the area I now reside in is generally wet throughout the year, we still get our share of hot, humid days.
We islanders all have our own tried and true strategies for keeping cool in the tropics. Having a big family has forced me to get creative to keep everyone comfortable, especially on the hottest of the hot days.
Here are my three favorite things to do to help escape the heat with my five children in Fiji:
ISLAND BEACH DAY
If you live near a beach, lucky you. For us here in Fiji, in most places on the rock, there’s always a beach nearby. You can either drive, hire a cab, truck, bus, or simply walk down to the beach. Most beaches here have been privatized, so you may have to pay a small fee for the shower and toilet facilities. One nice feature on some of these private beaches are sheds with fireplaces, making a BBQ possible, if you wish. There are also swimming beach spots which are free, but they don’t have toilets and taps, which can be a challenge with children. If you have kids and you’re planning to stay at the beach for quite a while, then I recommend the private beaches.
Nothing beats diving into the ocean and feeling the coolness of the sea envelope your hot body (temperature hot, not model hot!) as you let the water soothe you. The satisfaction is priceless, for mom and kids alike. The smiles and sounds of laughter that you get from the children make the hassles of getting to the beach completely worth it. Just be sure that whatever you do, you do not forget to pack food. It can be leftovers from breakfast, plain bread with some butter and jam, boiled cassava, or sweet potato. It doesn’t matter much – so long as it’s edible, my children love it. All the hunger they work up in the sea, sand, and sun makes them much less picky. I usually take tins of meat, whip up a green salad, and we eat it with bread. It’s like gold on a beach day.
I usually bring my biggest mat with us to the beach, as my smaller ones like to take a nap after the first round of swimming and feeding. Once they’re dried up, changed, and fed, they will lie down and enjoy the sea breeze for a short bit before they up again – recharged and ready for the second round of swimming. Our beach days usually start after breakfast and last through late in the evening. When I can tell that my children are completely exhausted, I load them all up and back home we go. It’s always a noisy affair with five children in tow, but they love their time on the beach and I love watching them play and laugh and knowing that they’re keeping cool and comfortable in the sea. So whenever it gets hot out and there’s not much to do, off to the beach we go!
ISLAND POOL DAY
Our main alternative to the sea is soaking in a public pool. This works best if your children already know how to swim and if you have a pool in your area. Despite the heat, the pool water at the pools we frequent is always nice and cool. Though the public pool may get crowded at times, I like to look at it as an opportune time to make new friends and mingle with fellow island mummies and daddies. The rock I live on is tiny, so one way or another, you will likely have a mutual friend with everyone else you meet on island. Whether it’s through school, church, or a place you’ve worked, there will always be some kind of connection.
My dad is great at connecting the dots of familiarity. As soon as he introduces himself to someone, he will straight away start asking, Who are your parents? Where did you live? Do you know Mr. X? and before you know it, my father and this person he just met will be chatting just like long time buddies. I love this social aspect of the island pool day – making connections while soaking in the refreshing water. The other great thing about the pool in our town is that it’s close to home – only about a 20 minute walk / 5 minute drive. So as soon as the children start wanting to eat, this usually signals the end of our pool time and off to the nearest pizza place we go. And yes, it has to be pizza, otherwise it’s almost impossible to convince them to leave the pool.
ISLAND MOVIE DAY
When you can’t be in the water on a hot day, being inside with A/C is the next best option. This is when we like to escape to the cinemas. Granted, this only works for the islands that actually have cinemas. On our rock, the two cities and the one town have cinemas. The rest of the towns have yet to experience them, so I consider us lucky to have easy access to three.
The cinemas are fully air-conditioned, so it can actually get chilly when watching a movie. One of my sons insists on taking his blanket with him. It’ll be raging hot outside while we’re lining up for the movie tickets, but my 7 year old son will be oblivious to the heat, hugging his blanket. His two elder brothers will try to get him to hide it, but that just makes him even more adamant about having it out in the open. It’s good that the movie patrons know us well enough to let him in with his blanket into the movie theater!
Once we get the movie tickets and we’re inside the waiting area, the popcorn drama begins. Eldest son will want his own popcorn, and so will the smaller brothers. So my diplomacy skills kick in and by the end of negotiations, we’re all paired up and ready to share popcorn and drinks. It’s only when we’re all settled in our seats and the children are enjoying their movie with their munchies when I can finally take a breath and enjoy the cool air enough to be able to doze off during the movie. One time, this island mama enjoyed it a bit too much – my son had to wake me during the movie with a loud whisper, “Mum, you’re snoring loudly!”
Now that’s what I call beating the heat.
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Are you a fellow island mama? How do you keep your kids happy in the tropical heat?