If your kids are like mine, a long day stuck inside, as water consistently pitter- patters on your living room window, can be about as temper testing as 12 hours of nails on a chalkboard.
As restlessness ensues, my little ones can reform from sharing, giggling and impossibly cute little mini-men, to small, cranky, cheeky little monsters; fighting, whining and spelling out trouble all over the place. I struggle to keep the house from becoming a disaster zone, so it’s important for me to have a plan of action in place, to keep things under wraps until the sun shines again.
That’s why rainy days call for boycotting the washing, the ironing and the dishes (what a shame) and instead spending the day keeping them entertained and out of mischief.
So without further ado, here are 15 fun ideas to keep your children (and yourself) from becoming cabin fever crazies.
1. Build a fort and camp inside
I’ve never met a child in my life who doesn’t love the idea of placing the dining room chairs in a circle, facing outwards, and throwing over a double size sheet to create a simple, home made tent. Throw in some pillows and grab a torch. Build a pretend “fire” at the front out of rectangular wooden blocks and red, orange and yellow coloured socks, shirts and undies (clean ones, of course). Make your own story and role play. You could be knights in shining armour protecting a castle from the big, green dragon! Or two, three or more little cavegirls, gathering berries, fighting beasts and protecting your dolly-babes. The possibilities are endless. Your only limits are your imagination!
2. Have a storytelling picnic
Rustle together some strawberries, apples, cheese squares and sandwiches (or anything else you like). Fill a jug with water, milk or juice and sit everyone down in a room with a blanket. Wear hats and sunglasses to pretend you’re outdoors. Take turns handing out portions and make up stories together. A fun way to do this is to say a sentence each. Circle around the family, getting each child to add a new part to the story. You’d be surprised how crazy, silly and fun this can get!
3. Put on a puppet show
Line up some chairs, facing the coffee table, and help your kids set up a stuffed toy in each one. Make some puppets. This is fun and super easy. You can make it crafty with Paddle Pop sticks and coloured-in paper, glue googly eyes to socks, draw on your fingers, decorate wooden spoons, or you could keep it simple using stuffed toys or just your plain hands.
Cut a square out of a cardboard box, creating a “stage” or “TV” and place it on its side on the coffee table so the hole is right through the middle. You’re ready to play! You can get your kids to be the puppeteers and/or you could entertain them in the audience with your own funny show!
4. Make bedroom posters
There’s no art more personal for your baby, toddler or child’s room than a picture he or she drew for themselves! Simple as pie, grab some pencils, crayons, Textas, chalk or paint (if you’re feeling really brave), and let your little ones go wild! Kids love it when you get involved, so watch and praise or put your own little squiggles in, to encourage the little artist inside your mini-you. Later you can get the piece laminated or put it in a frame, and hang it on your wall for your child to keep forever.
5. Have a music party
All three of my cheeky little boys have loved doing these. From the moment they could stand, Corey, Toby and Jasper have been dance-off masters. Make yourselves some instruments out of upside-down containers, spoons, rattles and anything else you can find. Crank up the music on your CD player or YouTube some video clips. Dance, play, sing and party. After all, deep down we all know we’d enjoy this one just as much as they would, plus it helps to get their bodies moving and burn some of that pent-up energy!
6. Have coloured pool adventures
The bath doesn’t have to only be for bathtime. It can also serve as a great little indoor mini pool for your little ones to enjoy! Take a tablespoon of food colouring of your choice, and colour your bath water pink, green, blue, yellow or whatever you like. Don’t worry, at this amount in a bath full of water, it doesn’t start to dye their skin! Throw as many plastic toys, cups, bowls and other safe things in for your kids to play with, and watch them have fun, cool off and refresh! But always supervise, of course.
7. Have a movie marathon
Microwave some popcorn. Sit your munchkins down on some pillows or cushions in a line on the floor, and pop on their favourite flicks (you might even get a cuppa in with this one!). Simple yet effective.
8. Make masks
Colour in some kooky faces with the kids on paper or cardboard. Cut out the eyes then tie on some string. Voila, you know have silly homemade masks. If they’re scary, chase each other around the room, roaring and moaning and tickling little bellies. If they’re cute, make a happy game, where you are all unique characters in a wonderful adventure!
9. Read storybooks
Reading to children from a young age is so important! It helps them to develop their language skills, make connections from words to objects, gives them valuable bonding time and engages them in a world of new and fascinating stories. Let them pick, one by one, which story they want to hear. Use enthusiastic, descriptive tones and move your body into the actions of the book. This makes every page as exciting, enthralling and engaging for your child as being in the fantasy world itself. Enjoy these special moments! They grow up way too fast!
10. Build an obstacle course
Keeping it safe, of course. Line up some hardcover books along the floor, followed by that sheet over two back to back chairs, add in some cushions to climb and a goal at the end. Now sit back and watch your little ones giggling, balancing, climbing and rolling to the end of their obstacle! Try and make it new and interesting every time you rebuild the next round, but remember to always keep it safe.
11. Give pony or gorilla rides
This was an all-time favourite for me as a child! I used to love climbing up onto my mum’s back, and squeal in delight as we bounded around the room, listening to her neigh and click her tongue like the sound of trotting hooves. The gorilla version is basically just a piggy back, however I throw in gorilla noises and make motions like scratching under my arms and pretend to eat make believe bananas they hand me. Feels a bit silly at first but your munchkins will love it, and secretly you might, too.
12. Look at photo albums
This not only passes the time with an enjoyable, nostalgic and sweetening activity. It’s also a good opportunity to teach children about timelines and help them learn the concept that they were once smaller than they are now and things change over time. Kids LOVE to look at photos. Even babies will have fun flipping through the pages of the family album, staring brightly at the colours of Christmas at Grandpas or grow wide eyed in awe of the animals from the family trip to the zoo. Older toddlers might point out Mummy, Daddy or Uncle Bob. Just an all-round fantastic activity for a little mind’s development.
13. Make lunch together
Another great educational activity. Get your kids to count how many eggs you’ve cracked into an omelette, then help you whisk it all together, or let them help you pick the healthy salads, like lettuce, cucumber and tomato, to put on their yummy ham sandwiches. Talk to them about main foods and treats, and how they make the mouth and tummy feel. Sit together at the table and enjoy. Thank them gratefully and praise them on how delicious it is. This is great for boosting confidence and they’ll be beaming to learn more!
14. Play Simon Says
Another childhood favourite! Even if they can’t yet talk, they will love following along with the actions and copying each movement until you stop using “Simon says”. Funnily enough, this challenges the use of fine-motor skills, memory, and begins training the cerebellum (the part of the brain that plays a large part in motor control and certain cognitive functions). Who knew it was so good to play such a simple game?
15. Make educational card games
Draw animals with the help of your little artists and then write sight words to go with them. Lay them all facing down on the ground and get them to match the picture to the word. This helps ready your child for their first steps towards reading and can be a great quiet activity for when you’ve just had enough of all the hustle and bustle games for the day.
Just for a little extra, remember also to take time to relax! Lay with your children and just be, talk and enjoy a simple moment together
I hope you found some new activities to do and can enjoy a fun and engaging day out of the next time the clouds roll in. Comment and add your own rainy day remedies.
Have a great day!
Pic: My youngest chubba bub enjoying a bright red bath (Who here agrees it goes with his hair?)