It’s been snowing and sleeting for the past two days, and my kids have been chomping at the bit to be outside playing in it. Needless to say, it seems funny to have to worry about rainy day activities, and yet, those days will soon be here. Each passing year goes more quickly than the last (oh my, I sound like my parents!). I live just outside St. Louis, and our springs not only bring rains, they bring tornado season.
We often spend rainy days not only inside, but in the basement, listening to the music of the sirens blaring outside. Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t take long to become a bit stir crazy, trying to keep kids calm and content. Thanks to my husband, a dear family friend, and even a favorite childhood book, we’ve managed just fine so far.
Thanks to my husband, the basement has become an indoor playground. Now, not everyone can convert a large area of floorspace to an indoor play area for their kids, certainly not for just one season, but if you can devote a small room, nook, or even just section of their room to an area devoted solely to play, you’ll have a much happier kid.
Have a large box or accordian envelope filled with art supplies – construction paper, glitter, glue, crayons, markers, pencils, foamies, stickers, etc. – readily available, Play Doh or modeling clay with cookie cutters and rolling pins, and lots of books. Your child can quietly amuse themselves for hours with these supplies. Or, conversely, if you have a large area like we do, you can toss down a mattress for jumping, a small indoor slide, giant blocks for building (even boxes work well for this), etc.
Thanks to my dear friend, we have a small pop-up tent that does double duty. We can use it for camping, or we can set it up in the basement and pretend like we’re camping when the weather’s dreary or uncooperative. It takes only minutes to set it up, and then the boys have the fun of filling it with blankets and pillows, capped off by mom providing a fun picnic lunch. This might not be practicable for everyone, but you can mimic the experience with a blanket and some chairs – oh come now, you remember make-shift living room tents, right? Hugely messy for mom, hugely fun for kids! Finish with a picnic, like we do, followed by camp songs. Your kids will almost be sad to see the sun come out!
Thanks to Beverly Cleary, even the rainiest of days can’t destroy our fun. In one of her Ramona Quimby books, Ramona decided to lead a parade of small children through her house. Some had little horns, some had little flags, some had pots and pans on which to bang. This certainly gets noisy, but I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t love a parade, and actually being in one, albeit a pretend one, is simply the icing on the cake for them.
On rainy days, think outside the box (should that be house?) and make your home an extension of your yard, rather than vice versa. Find fun, creative activities that will keep your children moving and learning, creating and interacting, and they will remember it for years to come.