The UK is in the grip of a ‘heatwave’ at the moment (I use the inverted commas, because the rest of the world would scoff at us calling it a heatwave – the temperatures are just about pushing 30C – but for a country where anything above 10C is t-shirt weather, and when it reaches 20C it gives all men the right to take their t-shirts off and walk around flaunting their – usually unattractive – bodies, this really is a heatwave), and something I never really appreciated is just how much difficulty the weather can add to the already-difficult task of parenting.
Things they don’t warn you about parenting in hot weather
- There is so much conflicting advice about the right temperature and what to dress your babies in. The general advice is one more layer than you’d be comfortable in, but when I’d gladly peel my own skin off if it’d make the heat go away, that’d mean having SB in just her nappy, and I’m not sure that’d go down too well in the supermarket.
- You constantly compare what your baby is wearing to what other babies are wearing. When SB was quite happy in her vest, t-shirt and shorts, I felt like I’d cracked it – she was an alright temperature and seemed happy enough. And then we walked past a baby of about the same age as SB, all wrapped up in a fluffy pramsuit and blanket. That sows the seeds of doubt, making you wonder if everyone walking past is gasping at your poor, freezing baby.
- Night times only get more stressful. All the parenting books go on and on about how the ideal temperature for baby’s room is 18-20C, and you should do your best to get it to that temperature. That’s fine and dandy if you have air conditioning, but when having the windows open and a fan blowing all day still only gets it to 30C, you can’t help but feel a little nervous. And then there’s the issue of what you dress them in at night.
- Hot times are never a good time to implement a change for your baby. We picked this week to try her in her cot. Because it’s too hot for her to wear her 1-tog GroBag sleeping bag, and far too hot to tuck her in with blankets, we’ve found her in a number of ‘interesting’ sleeping positions, including at a 90 degree angle to where she began, and with her legs hanging out through the bars. Needless to say she’s back in the Moses basket.
- Normal parenting tasks are so much harder in the heat. This heatwave has coincided with D getting extra hours at work, so a lot of the feeding, changing and general baby tasks fall to me – which is fine, I love doing them. But in the heat, sitting there and feeding when all you want to do is move about to cool down is so bloody uncomfortable. Plus you sweat everywhere, so public feeding becomes all in all a very embarrassing situation.
- If it’s too hot to focus in general, it’s too hot to focus on tasks like making bottles. The potential for mistakes opens up, so you need to be careful that you’re not putting more powder in than you should, or putting the nappy on backwards.