Rainy Days and Holidays - Fun, Cheap Things to Do with the Kids
Its Raining and the Kids are Bored!
"I'm bored!" There's nothing to do! If you're like me, and you dread those phrases, or, even worse, you loathe the idea of plugging your children into the television or video games all weekend, there are alternatives! I know, I know - who can think up creative ideas when you work all week, either outside of the house, or simply managing the day-to-day flow of dishes, laundry and overall household responsibilities? I'm here to provide that go-to list. Refer to it as often as needed, whenever the weatherman predicts several days of partly-whiny, with scattered crying episodes...
1. Take a trip to the library. Its not like you might remember it. Colorful, fun children sections now include personal computers in many public libraries. In addition to books, DVDs and audio tapes are available for check-out. That translates to FREE! Having your child sign up for a library card is a great way to have them learn about responsibility. If you have a school-age reader that is into series books, what a great way to save money! You can often reserve books ahead on-line so that the next one is ready to be picked up as soon as he or she is ready. Check your local library's website to see about story times or other programs. There are often adult reading groups and other activities that may spark an interest for you, as well. Did I mention free??
2. Play board games. Anything from checkers to Candy Land can be employed for hours of fun. Older children may learn chess, Clue, Risk, or Monopoly. New games come on the market every year. Chances are that you have at least one of these in your playroom or cupboards. Pull it out, dust it off and read the rules. Scrabble is fun for young readers. You may be able to fudge on the rules a bit and allow for creative words, if necessary. There is a Scrabble, Jr. version, if you want to go shopping in advance of the gloomy days.
Don't Let Rain put a Damper on your Family Fun
Rainy Day Activities in your Hometown
3. Get out of the rut. You can find several ways to entertain bored kids on rainy days that are close by and affordable. Pile into the car and choose one of the following places as your destination - you'll be surprised how inexpensive and fun some of these tried and true activities can be.
- Bowling is a total hit with my kids, and not too hard for anyone age 4 and over. Check to see if there is a non-smoking alley in your area and call another parent to bring their children along. Bring your camera, because you'll get some great photos and laughs watching them perfect their technique!
- Miniature golf is loads of fun, too. It requires a bit more skill and is recommended for kids ages 6 and older. Younger than that, and they will either get frustrated or bored (or both!). A challenging course with windmills, and clown mouths may take you down memory lane as well.
- Swimming at the public pool is a fun and inexpensive option for families. Make sure you know the open swim times - they may be limited to certain times in the afternoon. Some facilities have "kiddie" pools that are appropriate for toddlers and other children up to age 6. In either event, if you have young children, you should probably pack your suit so you can get in with them!
4. Get cooking! Stir up some fun in the kitchen. This is a great way to bond with your children and brush up on some elementary math skills. Don't fall into the gender trap of thinking this is just limited to girls, either. My 10-year old son absolutely loves to try new recipes with me. You can try something as easy as Jello jigglers, or something that requires several steps like cookies.
Your child may also enjoy planning a simple dinner. There are many children cookbooks available - we have several of them - that are both bright and fun. Two of our favorite are: Emeril's "There's a Chef in My Soup" and Rachel Ray's Cooking Rocks! 30-Minute Meals for Kids.
Rainy Day Activities in the Home
5. Build a fort. This is so easy, it is criminal. In fact, have your children don their Halloween costumes and pretend they are in the Batcave.
First, find a table. Next, pull out some blankets or sheets (not your best ones, of course). Add some old pillows and their imagination, and you've got hours of fun. Variations on this theme include the bunkbed fort, and the fort constructed of sofa cushions and blankets/sheets. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with loads of snow, your children can be outside for hours constructing a snow fort. You can watch from the safe, warm confines of your living room, sipping your coffee.
6. Coloring and crafts. Go online and pull up a plethora of coloring pages for your child. No need for coloring books. And they are absolutely free! Just make sure you have plenty of ink in your printer. In addition to coloring pages, there are also simple mazes and puzzles for older children to try. See the following sites: www.coloring.com/
Simple crafts are also easy to plan and create at home. Beading necklaces and bracelets allow for hours of fun. Merely buy an assortment of bead colors and lacing. Have your children sort the beads by color or shape. They can create patterns based on their favorite sports teams, or make friendship bracelets to give to their friends. Some craft stores have workshops specifically for children. If you plan ahead and sign up your kids, they can participate in early sewing, knitting, or painting classes.
7. Get out in the rain anyway. Put on the boots and the raincoats. Dispense with the umbrellas - they will be worthless within minutes. Grab your dog, if you have one, and just get out there! Go for a walk, examine the sidewalks for earthworms, watch the weather and see what comes up in conversation with your child. They are probably much less apt to care about getting wet than you are! Let them walk through mud puddles. After you have your fun, come inside for a nice cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows! (Of course, use common sense and stay inside if the temperature is too low, the wind is too high, or there is thunder and lightening!) If the weather is too severe, try sitting with your child on the chair nearest the window and watch the rain coming down. Turn off all the other "noises" in the house (TVs, radios, etc.) Just sit together quietly and listen to nature.
Its just a start, but trust me, by consulting this list and resisting just a bit more before going to the "default" mode of another wasted day in front of the blue tube, you will all be happier and not quite so "soaked." Happy days!
© 2008 Stephanie Hicks
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