This summer has been one rainy day after another (or at least it feels like it some times). In May alone, our rainfall total here in Nova Scotia almost hit the monthly totals for May through July! It has been crazy. My garden is stunted (because of too much water), my lawn is waterlogged (so my son can’t even earn his weekly allowance for mowing it), and my kids are at each other’s throats (okay, not quite literally…ahem).
I’ve never had much trouble keeping my kids outside playing, but this year has been a little different because of All. The. Rain! So I thought I would give you a list of 10 ways you can beat a rainy day!.
I know, I know. Most moms are ready to throw me out the window. I get it, I really do! I usually end up a with giant mess (like the Styrofoam base to my new A/C unit that my 2 year old decided to pull apart). But overall, it’s kind of worth it. I mean, generally my 5 and 7 year old’s will work quietly together for an hour or more, creating something unique and interesting. My daughter will make “rooms” for her dolls to play in, complete with cardboard cell phones and more!
My son’s brain is always turning with new ideas (maybe he’ll be an inventor when he grows up!) and he comes up with some really interesting ideas. Letting kids go to town with basic items from around your house can spark a level of creativity that many parents feel is missing from their children in our culture.
A couple of quick thoughts, though, to make craft time easier.
- Grab table cloths from the dollar store to cover your table (or even the floor if you choose to have them sit on the floor). Then all you have to do is gather up the corners and dump the whole thing (or shake it in the garbage so you can reuse the table cloth tomorrow).
- Provide glue and tape that you aren’t going to get upset over if they use the whole roll (this never happens to me, nope, never.)
- Keep a box or drawer of items they can use for crafting: scraps of fabric (don’t throw out that stained t-shirt, let your kids figure out a use for it), toilet paper rolls, stryrofoam meat trays (many are coming with the meat wrapped in plastic so it doesn’t touch the tray – the trays are great for making toy boats, etc), cardboard boxes from packaged foods, and even tin cans or applesauce/yogurt containers if they can’t cut themselves on the edges.
Here’s another way to spark some fun imagination. I actually let my kids watch YouTube videos (under supervision) on people making Lego things. This is more true for my son (my daughter doesn’t need YouTube, she’ll sit for hours by the container of Lego). We don’t even have a very big bucket of Lego but they can spend a lot of time working through it.
3. Art For Kids Hub
This is a website that teaches kids how to draw and I think there might also be origami videos on here. You can access it through it’s own website or through YouTube. My kids love picking something to draw. This is also something that they will spend hours doing. Even my 5-yr old can come up with some pretty decent pictures. We actually started using this last year when she was still 4 and I don’t consider her an artistic type of person, but these videos are really well done.
4. Colouring Books
Okay, so I know these first few have all been about using your imagination through crafts, but I really wouldn’t leave this one out of it’s own space. I’m not really talking just any colouring books, though. These days there are so many options and, I think, over the summer, it’s a good way to continue to bring in school without them feeling like it’s school. I found 2 Peterson field guide colouring books last year through a homeschool mom getting rid of stuff and those have been so fun for my kids to work with. My oldest will read the information and my daughter loves to find the matching stickers and then colour the bird/marine life to match the sticker. We also got a Noah’s Ark alphabet book for her – it uses very different animals to teach the alphabet, hah…but it’s good for discussion.
5. Read a Book
YES! Please, read books with your kids! I’m not amazing at this. For someone who loves to read, reading aloud to my kids is actually torture. No joke. But, you can also get them to sit quietly for a half hour (I set a timer sometimes when they’re giving me a hard time) and they can look at books (if they can’t read) or read to their younger siblings. Too bad the 2-yr old won’t sit still for his older brother, sigh. That would really work in my favour if he would, hah.
6. Watch Educational Videos
Ditch the 100th viewing of The Incredibles and put on documentaries or Planet shows. Will your kids be bored? Maybe at first. But sometimes it’s really fascinating how they will pick up on information and actually learn something! We just discovered The Wild Brothers…and while they aren’t fan favourites yet, the kids don’t complain when I put them on, either. Plus, they’re hearing about God from another source! Win, Win! Mindless Netflix might be a sanity-saviour, but it’s soooo unhealthy for little people’s minds (talking to myself here – after watching all 5 seasons of Paw Patrol 100 times!)
7. How-To Half Hours
I’ve been trying to implement scheduling in my home (for everyone’s benefit) and one of the things we’re trying out is switching up what we’re doing every 30 minutes. This is especially true when it comes to chores. Kids get bored so quickly. Use one of your daily half hours to teach them “how to” do something. For instance, let’s learn how to do the laundry (my 7-yr old is learning that). Let’s learn the different sizes of measurements for baking/cooking. Can you teach them how to cut a cucumber without taking a finger off? Maybe even how to take paint off the floor (hah, vbs decoration prep is still showing itself in a few spots).
Teach them life skills so that when they get older they won’t be completely dependent on you for Every. Single. Thing! My oldest loves to learn new cooking techniques, etc (he just has to be watched very closely in the kitchen!). But this way, too, chores don’t pile up and become all “Mom’s” responsibility. But the “How-To” half hour can also be teaching them something fun – like how to win at dominoes, or how to sew a simple pouch, etc. It doesn’t have to be chore-related at all.
8. Build Something
This, again, comes back to them using their imagination. I let my kids use their blankets and pillows to create whatever they can, wherever they want (within reason, hah). You could give them baking supplies (if they’re older), pieces of wood, etc…it’s all about encouraging independent play, under supervision. Sometimes it’s not enough for us to just say, “Go play!” We need to give them some tools to figure that out. My son loves to build forts (everywhere!) and it’s slightly devastating when Mom tears them down before Dad gets home. There have been a few times we’ve let the kid’s sleep in their tents (they’ve made some elaborate ones over the years).
9. General Toy Play
My kids don’t have a ton of “other” toys outside Lego and my daughter’s dolls…but sometimes I will just tell them to go play. It’s okay for them to have to figure it out. Again, switch things up within a reasonable amount of time or your kids will get bored and do things like attach their baby brother’s sippy cup to the fan and watch it spin!
10. Send Them Outside
When all else fails, send your kids outside to play in the rain. YES! It’s okay – maybe even healthy – for them to play in the rain. Just pretend you’re letting them play in the pool =). Haha. It’s actually really neat what they will see while outside in a rain shower that they wouldn’t see if it were sunny outside. It took me a while to get past the concept of my kids being soaked and see how much fun they were having. And no one wants to be shut inside all summer!
These are just a few of the ways I occupy my kids – and if you stick to the half hour rule and switch things up, you’ve just taken up 5 hours of your day doing the above 10 things!
What other ideas do you have for keeping kids occupied during rainy days?