Generally speaking, a rainy day is a tough day for a mom. It’s not so much that you must go outside, but simply that, on a rainy day, it’s probably not an option. This is particularly true in the city, after you’ve survived the winter and expect to spend your days outside dawn-to-dusk for all of summer. Then you wake up to the rainy day and have to be the bearer of bad news: No splash pad today. No picnic for lunch. No playground with friends.
For days such as these, I like to have a few tricks up my sleeve—special, engaging activities that I only pull out on days where the disappointment is high and we’re all bound to go a little stir-crazy. They’re simple enough that you don’t have to pull your hair out over setup or clean up, but they are bound to get your kiddos’ imaginations revving. (Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty putting “Frozen” on for the sixth time this week.)
Here are my top six cabin fever busters. May they save you this summer when it’s too yucky to go out.
- Paint anything. I don’t love to get the paints out in the house, to be honest. Watercolors I can deal with, okay; acrylic paint and toddlers just don’t always mix. So if I break out the fun poster paints, I’m already winning. But what I’ve discovered is that switching up the canvas from the paper-covered easel goes a long way in increasing the fun. We’ve painted rocks, old t-shirts, popsicle sticks, a broken down cardboard box, and other nonsense items that are easy to find tucked in the dark corners of closets and basements.
- Homemade play dough. My kiddos have a canister of regular PlayDoh, but just like paints, it’s not a go-to activity for us. When I really want to brighten up a rainy day, we make our own. There are dozens of recipes floating around Pinterest, and it’s fun to try several to experiment with different textures. This site has six recipes in one spot, which is good because you’re bound to have the ingredients for at least one of them!
- Make a fun fort. Now tent building is something we do regularly in our house. The Noel girls love a good nest for reading books and watching movies. But on a rainy day, when you’re surely going to leave the fort up all day, we like to jazz things up. It’s not a regular fort, it’s a cool fort. Trust me: be the mom who crawls into the storage space to retrieve the Christmas lights and string them inside the tent. The reaction is totally worth it.
- An inside beach is where it’s at. I think I have Daniel Tiger to blame for this one, but my girls almost like an inside beach better than the real one (we’re still working on our relationship with sand). We clear out the living room, make one blanket sand and one blanket water, then add accordingly: the toy fish and sharks on the water blanket; buckets, shovels, and the seashell collection on the sand blanket. Surround the whole scene with every plant in the house for an island feel, turn on the reggae, and everyone changes into swimsuits. You’ll instantly forget it’s actually raining outside.
- No-bake cookies. The last thing I want to do on a hot, humid day is turn on my oven. But baking is a great stay-at-home activity. So, we compromise and make no-bake cookies. It’s so easy, you can make them free of processed sugar, and when the kids ask to eat the dough, you can actually say yes! Here is an easy-peasy recipe.
- Conduct a science experiment. I love finding things that are fun for my kids and also make me feel like a good mom, investing in my children’s learning. For us, that thing is science experiments. We’ve had the most fun filling up afternoons where we didn’t know what else to do, just googling science experiments to try. Our recent favorites? An amazing baking soda volcano l (bonus: this has two parts over two days) and coloring celery (which, by the way, won me third-place in the second grade science fair, so…).
The great thing about these activities is that they’re appropriate for a wide variety of ages; and they really tap into the kind of imagination that will keep you busy and happy for a whole day. What do you do with your kids on a rainy day inside?