Raining and muddy scene

My Top five wet weather activities for children under 7.

Richard woodworking blog

With November has come some pretty foul weather. Gusting wind, chilly and some really wet days – not great for playing outside. So what to do? Read on for my top 5 things that I do with my children on a rainy day.

Just as a bit of background, during the week my three children are at different places. The two boys are 4 and 6 and are at school. My daughter goes to a child minder on Monday and Thursday. So the majority of the time during the week I have one happy and healthy 2 year old girl to look after.

These ideas are my own, they may not be the healthiest, but they get us through rainy days without too many fights and without leaving me exhausted. I’d love to hear your ideas as a stay at home parent / dad.

#1 Guilt Free TV?
As with many parents who are trying to juggle too many things, my first choice for entertainment is turning on the TV. It’s like chips, they will default to it if asked ‘what do you want to do? I’ve heard it called ‘the electronic babysitter’ but of course it is not that. Cbeebies from the BBC is educational, varied and safe. There are no adverts, no hard selling and no scantly clad teenagers jumping about. We have Freeview which comes with about 60 channels, some of them not so good as Cbeebies. So, in order to exercise some control over their viewing, I have deleted quite a few of the channels [especially the ones with adverts, hard selling and scantily clad teenagers].

On the face of it, a pretty good choice. But it comes with a price in my head… guilt. I can let them sit and watch half an hour, but after that I start to get uncomfortable with it for too many muddled reasons to talk about here. So I use telly as a break or interlude between other activities, time for clearing up a bit, or just time to sit and have a coffee and look out the window.

The Pros of TV as I see it are…

  • It calms my children down and gives them a bit of quiet time. 
  • In short doses it is fun and can be great for group hugs on the sofa. 
  • They get to learn about all sorts of varied stuff, from dinosaurs to cooking to blooming growing.

The Cons of TV as I see it are….

  • The many negative physiological effects on communication skills that it is reported to have. 
  • If I turn off the TV before they are finished watching something… all hell breaks loose. 
  • It generally causes arguments.
  • If they watch too much they get very grumpy and fidgety.

Getting outside!#2 Putting on More Clothes and Going Out to Play.

This by far my preferred choice of activity. I love being outside and I think they should too. I know I should let them choose but sometimes I still think a push in a certain direction is good for them. As they apparently say in Norway ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad choice of clothing’. Walking in the rain can be the best fun with good enough clothes on. I know many adults that get bloody cold and miserable when cold and wet, so it’s easy to see why children need to be wrapped up to have fun, although on some walks we have been on the cold and wet doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

That said my top tips for getting outside are…

  • Full length waterproofs over wellies, don’t mess about with just jackets, the first puddle they come to will be straight up dry trouser legs. Good full length waterproofs we have used and that are hard wearing seem to be Muddy Puddles or JOJO Maman Bebe sell some good full length waterproofs / dungerees. These are great if your child is still in nappies (although can make ad hoc changing a bit of a challenge). But if they aren’t then waterproof trousers and jacket work well too. 
  • Sticks, all our children love sticks and they are a great distraction from being cold. Many things can be hit, poked and investigated with a sturdy stick. 
  • Snacks, take plenty as they seem to eat more when it’s chilly. 
  • Don’t go out too long, shorter bouts of brisk walks, runs, climbs make for less tantrums and tears. If you are getting chilly then they will definitely be feeling the cold. 
  • Take carrier bags and spare socks. If the worst happens and they get a wellie full of water, then a plastic bag over a dry sock can restore calm and keep them going. 
  • Have hot chocolate ready to make when you return, all cold hands can be warmed on a good cup full of hot chocolate. We use Galaxy Frothy Top because its quick, easy and the froth makes them smile! 

#3 Family Memberships of Local Botanical Garden / Attractions.

Each year we choose to pay for one or two family memberships to our local parks / attractions homes. This year we chose to take family memberships for Bicton Gardens and Cantonteign falls . We have National Trust in mind next year as they get a bit bigger/more interested in history. Why? On rainy days when you are flat out of making, painting or in the house ideas it’s good to have a couple of good fall backs. This is where the memberships come in. With a little for thought, just a little you understand, you can go with a packed lunch and explore your favourite places for very little money. Like anyone I get tired and going somewhere you know is easy, safe and cheap.

Top tips for choosing a membership are…

  • Make sure it has indoor as well as outdoor activities, on rainy days children can be more unpredictable than usual. 
  • Make it not too far away, more than 20-30mins in the car is going to mean you don’t use it often enough to justify the cost.
  • Hopefully the membership card will just say ‘family’ so occasionally you and a friend and one or two of their children can go together as a ‘family’! 

#4 Painting, Drawing, Cooking, Reading, Jigsaws and Den building, to name but a few.
There are so many things to do inside that I will need a few more blog posts to talk about. That said, for many of these activities to work well without a lot of impatient shouting they need to be prepared before the children turn up. I don’t know if this is a man thing but, out of all these things, den building is my favourite and usually the most successful.

Den building can be achieved with just a blanket or sheet and a couple of cushions off the sofa. I tend to find that the best dens need to have a dark place that adults can’t get into. Providing a torch or two and some cushions seems to do the trick. If you figure out a way of making a tunnel, then even better. Stickers or snack bribery at the end soon gets the mess cleared up once they get bored of the den.

#5 If All Else Fails and You Need to Get Out – Go to the Large Warehouse Stores.
It sounds a far fetched, but if money is tight then a good run / romp around your local B&Q hardware warehouse can be really fun. Our local one is massive, the lanes are wide, they have a garden section and yes you guessed it, a cafe. The garden section is usually outdoors but they will have loads of sheds and wendy houses to hide in and explore. The garden section will also probably have machines, like ride on mowers… and what child doesn’t like pretending to drive the tractor?

Grab a trolley and off you go with a great half hour of racing, riding and pushing around. I am not advocating racing all over the place, but take two trolleys and they will push themselves around quite happily. If hungry then large bottle of water in your bag ( I am pretty sure you will be carrying a changing bag by now) combined with a couple of large toasted tea cakes will see you to lunch time.

So I hope this has given you at least one new idea for keeping the children happy on a rainy day, I’d love to hear what you do on a rainy day as a stay at home parent, so comments below are always welcome.