We’ve all had those days with our kids - we’re stuck at home, it’s pouring rain, we’ve read all the books, drawn all the pictures and are out of things to do. And it’s only 10 am. While Fall weather brings all kinds of new activities (leaf and puddle jumping, anyone??) it can also mean getting creative for things to do when it’s just too yucky to go out. We might be content to snuggle up with a cup of tea and a good book and spent a cosy day indoors, but our kids almost certainly have other things in mind. It’s tempting to put on Netflix or pop in a DVD (and we all do it - no shame! - sometimes mama just wants to go pee by herself), but sometimes we want something that will burn off some of that extra toddler energy.
Build a Fort
An old classic, and for good reason. I’ve yet to meet a little kid who didn’t love building things and the idea of making tents and shelters. What’s extra great about this kind of play is that you don’t need anything special - everything you need is already in your house. Grab some blankets and/or sheets, pillows, chairs and couch cushions and you’re all set. Secretly, it’s also a great way to teach your kids about working together and the skills needed to put things together.
If your child is a bit older, send them on “missions” to collect the materials you need to build your fort to give them a sense of independence and accomplishment... and to keep them moving to try and tire them out.
After your fort is constructed and move-in-ready, it’s a great place for some quieter activities with your kids or a place to wind down before bed. Grab some flashlights and books, sing songs and share stories.
One of our favourite things to do to burn off some energy, have fun and spend time together is to have ourselves a dance party. Thanks to Spotify and other music streaming apps, there are plenty of playlists with kid-approved (and appropriate) music to boogie down to. If you have a small group, you can always incorporate extra game elements like musical chairs and freeze dance.
Hide and Seek
No explanation needed for this age-old favourite. The way my daughter likes to play is by telling me where to hide, then coming to hide with me and having no one to find us.
Sports Day Inspiration
For older children, you can take some of the classic Sports Day activities and turn them into mini indoor Olympics (if you have the indoor space, that is). Try a version of egg on a spoon races, hula hoop/ring toss, balloon pop relay race and mini obstacle courses.
For those of us that live in condos and have neighbours to consider, games where we run around and jump and dance might not be options. My downstairs neighbour will thank me for sharing these other indoor activities that keep the fun up with the volume (somewhat) down.
This is a game we came up for my daughter, who loved the IDEA of doing a puzzle but didn’t really have the attention span to sit down and do it all. We hide pieces of the puzzle around the house for her to find and have her bring them back to “home base” to assemble - either as she goes or at the end. She still might not have the patience to sit and do the whole thing at the end, but she enjoys the process.
Another old favourite that can kill a bunch of time is tossing a balloon around. Balloons are great for playing catch because they are soft and light and give kids extra time to get to it before it hits the ground. Because it reminds them of parties and other fun activities, just the idea of balloons is enough to intrigue them and make it extra special.
Blowing bubbles is always a hit with some kids who want to watch or start learning to blow bubbles themselves. For slightly older kids, let them help you make your own bubble mixture.
Finding a really simple recipe for baking or making something for them to play with (playdough, slime, etc.) can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Kids love being little helpers and watching something they helped made turn into something - especially if it’s something delicious like cookies. Depending on your tolerance for mess, you can also let your kids play scientist in the kitchen and let them combine and mix different things. Use different colours and textures for them to explore with their hands.
Hope these help next time the rain hits!