“No more than ten minutes!” I yelled after my eleven-year-old daughter as she darted out the back door. It was late on an August evening, and the temperature in Houston continued to hover over 100 degrees, refusing to offer even a brief reprieve. Last summer was less of a breaking point and more of a languishing, as persistent triple digits kept our family of four increasingly confined to our home. The sun was so relentless that I often drew the curtains by noon. Right outside our door was a huge yard with a tree swing, a neighborhood park, and miles of bayou trails. Inside was a lethargic mom trying to console two kids with more screen time that none of us wanted.

During my own adolescence in Houston, in the nineties, I’d spent entire days outside practicing tennis. It was hot and miserable, but it was never a threat to my safety. Now hikers were dying on Texas trails, and I was acutely aware of the imminent risk as I tracked the record-breaking heat on Space City Weather. Even swimming in the Frio River felt like we were stepping into tepid bathwater. I tried to fill the summer with novelty, booking both kids at indoor theater camp. My oldest spent a week playing keyboard and writing song lyrics at Girls Rock Camp, and I even tracked down an indoor skate park where I dripped in sweat as I waited for my tween to tire out (the facility was not climate controlled). These changes helped a little, but it was still a struggle to rise early enough or stay awake late enough to catch the brief windows when the heat was ever so slightly less miserable.

The first autumnal dip into the low 90s, in September, brought momentous relief, and the next four months went by in a flash. Then, in February, temperatures climbed to triple digits in some parts of Texas. It was hard to not be filled with existential dread as I sat in our home office, mapping out our summer schedule. Or perhaps, as climate writer Alex Steffen more accurately described it, “There’s the shock that comes with recognizing that you are unprepared for what has already happened.” Still, I knew another scorching summer was on its way, and I wanted to be prepared. Yes, I planned to attack the library’s summer reading program like it was my job, but summer days are long, and I needed more in my back pocket.

So I reached out to fellow parents to commiserate and ask about their plans. I learned I was far from alone in worrying about what this summer will bring. The struggle is real even for mental health experts like Chad Lemaire, a psychiatrist at Legacy Community Health in Houston. “My own daughters love their summer activities outside, but they complain about how hot it is and are wiped out at the end of the day,” he said. “While the heat itself can directly cause fatigue, irritability, and even feelings of depression, we also know that kids who spend more time indoors may end up spending more time on screens, which can contribute to irritability and mood issues. It can be very challenging for parents and caregivers to find things to occupy children when it is too hot to do anything outside.”

Lemaire suggests spending some time outside during the coolest part of every day, and brainstorming with kids to find activities they like that are not on screens (in our house, Legos and drawing are perennial favorites). Read on for more advice from weary but resilient Texas parents.

If you can swing it, go somewhere cooler (even if it’s not far from home).

“We feel very privileged because we can travel in the summer and are picking places like Colorado and California that won’t have the humidity and heat that Houston will.” —Stephanie Millet, 45, architect, Houston

“My daughter and I are heading back to San Diego to visit friends and family. We’re going early in the summer, before California schools get out, to avoid crowds and capitalize on cheaper amusement park prices.” —Alisha Ebadat, 36, teacher, Bastrop

“We’ve got a week in Galveston booked, plus ad hoc trips on weekends. And finally, a bit of vacation outside of Texas! You gotta have strategies at multiple levels.” —John Escoto, 52, research and development engineer, Houston

“We have a summer bucket list of Texas swimming holes, rivers, and springs. We also live at the Colorado River most evenings/weekends.” —Leslie Bell, 38, human resources, Bastrop

Get thee to the water.

“Our summer survival plans involve getting the most value out of our COVID purchase: a backyard swimming pool. As working parents with remote work flexibility, our plan is to toss the kids out back with plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen and hope they don’t need anything in the middle of key presentations.” —Anne Hsu, 42, chief audit executive, Frisco

“Water tables and DIY frozen dinosaur eggs, midday baths to cool off, and indoor painting picnics.” —Tina Guerra LaGrange, 38, owner of Tinag Jewelry, Linn

“We’re planning to spend time in the pool when it’s too hot to go on walks in the late afternoon/early evening.” —Meredith Khonsari, 31, full-time parent, Austin

“If it’s outside and there’s no water involved, we’re not in.” —Juliana Cruz Kerker, 42, government relations, Austin

Plan indoor fun (and hope for a fairy godmother to cover camp costs).

This summer, we decided to purchase a Witte Museum membership as a way to beat the heat and do something different.” —Deborah Patterson, 44, full-time parent, San Antonio

“We realized we really need to be indoors for the brutal afternoons. We’re actually swapping houses with our neighbors—we’re buying and moving into their house, and they’re buying and moving into ours. They are older and looking to downsize, and we are ready for their larger home’s pool and the game room that offers our kids more space to play inside. Movies and snow cones are on the list.”  —Gina Pierce, 41, licensed social worker, McKinney

“As working parents, we are just trying to manage the insane amount of $300+ day camp options, summer prep clinics for the ridiculously competitive junior high fall sports pool, and mentally preparing for the electricity bills reaching $500 or more. Honestly, hoping it would rain cash.” —Stacie Wood, 42, sales, Katy

Get outside early in the morning and at dusk—or flip your schedule altogether.

“Our family is rearranging our schedule a little bit. We’ll be reading in the afternoon and kicking the kids out to play early in the morning.” —Erin Hounsel, 40, preschool teacher, Dripping Springs

“We’re planning to get out early in the day when we have to and utilize our neighborhood pools when we need to cool off, especially the ones with the most shade. When in doubt, popsicles.” —Tania Pronkta, 47, human resources, Houston

“We homeschool our kids, and we decided to flip the schedule by doing school through most of the summer. Then we can take off more time in the fall and winter when it’s nice to be outside.” —Whitney Collins-Sanchez, 35, co-owner of Bluebonnet Coffee, Blanco

Don’t forget to take care of yourself (and acknowledge that the heat makes it harder).

“Despite having a new AC system and regular servicing, we caved last summer and bought a window unit for the primary bedroom.” —Jay Bostick, 42, consultant, Houston

“I plan to get some early morning quiet time at home, take walks before it gets too hot, and enjoy sipping on iced coffee. In the evening I’ll wind down with a good summer read.” —Lindsey Blanchard, teacher, 41, Bulverde

“We have learned that each of us needs to fill three buckets throughout the day: connection, rest, and play. We also take some time to rest by ourselves for at least thirty minutes. I desperately need this space, and it makes a huge difference. And then we try to have one activity that is truly fun for all of us. I’ve found that if I can fill each of these buckets with something super simple each day, we are all left feeling seen and loved, and I’m not a monster by bedtime.” —Avery Shelburne, 42, children’s book buyer for Fabled Bookshop & Cafe, Waco