There’s not much worse than feeling trapped indoors in dark, cold, wet wintry weather when you have small children! Weather that may once have meant a cosy weekend in your PJs with hot chocolate, log fires and Netflix is now a weekend of endless reruns of Peppa Pig and lots of clock watching for bedtime whilst the kids climb the walls. I like to plan ahead for the weekend or holiday times just so I have some activities up my sleeve to try and reduce the chaos and help us enjoy time together as a family whatever the weather, plus we all know even the most carefully planned activity lasts about 3 minutes with any toddler.
PLAY DOH MATS
Playdoh is a brilliant material as long as its not stuck in your carpets! When I first became a mum people frequently told me how easy it was to make playdoh and I frequently told them how easy it was to purchase it from the shop! However I have come to find that making playdoh (8 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp oil and 60ml warm water) is actually really easy, quite fun and allows for lots of cool additions such as glitter and flavourings. Once you’ve made some dough, adding in play mats are a great way of helping to keep modelling work on the table not the floor! I love that the ideas for play mats are endless and versatile. Some ideas we have tried are; dinner plates, people, icecream sundaes, monsters and trees. All you need to do is print off a design (there are loads out there online) or create your own, laminate it and you’re away. You can also try your child’s name or age and have them practice creating it in playdoh.
SENSORY PLAY TRAY
I used to think sensory play was best left to nursery and toddler groups but I’ve come to love including sensory play at home. It doesn’t have to be really messy or wreck your home, and it’s a guaranteed winner with children. Some materials are best played with outdoors but on a rainy day there are some go to materials that can easily be sucked up with a vacuum afterwards. Coloured rice (just pop some ordinary rice in a food bag with some food colouring and leave it overnight), porridge oats, dry pasta or cereal are all fun to explore. Base your play on your child’s interests and just add the material you want to play with to any kind of tray then let your creative side out - try farm animals in porridge with a Weetabix stable or dinosaurs in rice with glitter and pebbles.
Children love to sort things into groups (even though it may not seem that way when you look at their bedrooms) so setting up simple sorting games for your children can be a fun and educational way to spend a rainy afternoon. Depending on the age of your children you can adjust this activity to suit, you can also add in elements of competition if that works for siblings. The basic concept is that you set up clear colour or letter areas then challenge your child to find lots of things that start with those letters or are those colours from around the house. The downside of this game is tidying away every random blue thing from your house afterwards but you can always turn tidy up into a game too!
Bath time can also become an opportunity for play, especially on a cold wet day. A few ideas that have worked for us recently are;
Water balloons – fill balloons with water and add them to the bath, a quick cheap idea that just adds extra excitement to bath time.
Glow Sticks – this is a good one especially in the darker evenings. Pop some glow sticks into the water and turn off the lights!
Dolls/Cars – whichever floats your boat! My girls love to bath their dolls whilst they are in the bath, I give them the miniatures we’ve brought home from hotels so they can wash and clean them. Another good one is to add plastic cars to the bath for a ‘car wash’ then provide your little ones with a variety of brushes/cloths.
This is an obvious classic which never grows old, that feeling of being hidden or covered is part of a child’s development that we play right from the earliest games of peek a boo with a baby and is part of the enveloping schema which you will notice in your child’s play. A den can be as simple as a blanket over a table or something more elaborate. Dads tend to come to life in den building play, try to keep the children involved in the process to – an opportunity for construction, planning and communication. Maybe when you’re all played out, bathed and dry you can climb into your den and snuggle up with another episode of Peppa or some bedtime books. Extra special things to add to your den are fairy lights or glow in the dark materials.
However you spend the next rainy day I hope some of these ideas inspire you and remember, rainy days don’t have to be play indoors days! Some days you just have to wrap up, put on your wellies and go jump in puddles.