We have been blessed this year with a very beautiful summer. Many warm, sunny days filled with clear blue skies and days at the lake. Fortunately we have not had many rainy days at all, which has been great for those of us who want to play outside, but probably not so good for the farmers.
When we do have the odd rainy day and as the weather cools as we move into fall, it can be challenging to keep the kids entertained and prevent the inevitable ‘cabin fever’ that sets in from being inside for too long. I have found that having a ‘backpocket’ full of activities for the kids is a great way to keep them busy and you happy.
Here are some activities that I have enjoyed as a child and have used with my own kids to keep us all sane on those rainy days. Of course there are the typical things like watching movies and playing video games, but I always find that it is great to have some creative ideas and activities to engage their minds and imagination, as I feel that being in front of the tv all day is not always the best.
Build a fort
My favorite indoor activity has always been to make a fort. My sisters and I would get chairs and blankets and set things up so that we could then get inside and play all day. We would spend hours setting it up and enjoying it. My kids tend to use the couch cushions and pillows, in addition to blankets to set up their forts. Yes my couch comes apart for a while but the deal is at the end of the day they put it all back together, and everybody’s happy. They have had hours of fun and I have had hours of stress free activity.
Kids can also use cardboard boxes to build a fort, this is something that they could leave up for awhile and use if it was in a space that worked for everyone. They can experiment with all shapes and sizes, decorate it with crayons or markers.
The important thing with forts is to let the kids be creative. Let them build it and knock it down a few times, let them use their imaginations. Regardless of what they create ensure it is safe to play in and is under adult supervision.
Play Board Games
Also another favorite when I was growing up. We had all kinds of board games, from Monopoly to Pay Day and would often spend all day playing them. We would often set up Monopoly and have a tournament. The game would last all day and Mum never had to worry about what we were up to. There are lots of board games out there for all ages, like Candyland, Yahtzee, Connect Four, etc. that once you get the kids set up they can play on their own or join in.
Create a Play
Have the kids write their own play, assign parts and do a performance. Kids will be very occupied creating the stage, costumes, props as well as practicing the play itself. They can then present to friends and family at the end of the day.
Play Hide and Seek
Who says this is just an outdoor game? Set clear guidelines and boundaries about where they can and can not hide, then let the games begin. You can add a variation by changing the game to Sardines, where only one person hides and then everyone else has to find them. The catch is when you find the person who is hiding you have to then hide with them in that space. This can get very tricky if the space is a little small.
If you already have puppets, grab them; otherwise, the kids can make their own. They can use brown paper lunch bags and decorate them with markers, glitter, construction paper, etc. You could also use old mitts or sew little hand puppets for them to decorate. I know you are saying “Yes I am going to whip out the sewing machine and make a few puppets for them while they are waiting”. Perhaps have some ready beforehand and just put them away ‘for a rainy day’. They can also make a puppet theatre to do their show in using a cardboard box, blankets or a combination of both. Other great ‘theatres’ could be the island in the kitchen if you have one, or simply standing behind the couch.
Go outside and Play in the Rain!
Yes if all else fails, put on their rainboots, raincoats and send them outside in the backyard. One rainy afternoon we had all 3 kids going crazy by 4 o’clock. They were running around the house screaming and I was ready to scream myself. With an hour to go til dinner, I dressed them and sent them all outside. They had a great time, they ran around the deck, splashed in puddles and just plain enjoyed themselves. The stress level in the house went down, everyone was happier and I was able to make dinner in peace while still watching the kids.
The important thing is to keep on eye on them and make sure they are not getting cold, that they stay close to the house in case they need to come inside if they are. Otherwise let them play and jump in puddles. Challenge them to make as small a splash as possible, then a big one. You can also take out buckets and shovels and they can fill them up and scoop water out. My daughter loves transfering water from one bucket to another, filling it up and then dumping it. She can do that for an hour straight without getting bored or distracted. Who says that just because it’s wet outside that you can’t go out? The fresh air does everyone good and keep us all sane!
This is just a sampling of ideas of what you could do, there are many other things that kids love that you could do with them on a rainy day, like playing with Play-Doh, various crafts, even some baking. You just have to do a little planning and have some materials on hand, so when it does rain you know what you can do. Believe me, it is worth the time spent planning to have a smooth and stress free rainy day!