How do you cope with rainy days? When it is too icky to go outside, or stay outside long, what do you do to get your children's energy out? How do you cope with feelings of being cooped-up inside?
One of my kids' favorite things to do inside was to set up the living room like a beach. We would bring out their lawn chairs, they would set up their umbrellas, lay out their beach towels, and their favorite part was placing the many seashells all over the floor. Having lunch, or snacks on their beach always brought smiles to their faces. A favorite way to burn energy: (This only works if you have a stairwell.) The kids would take all their bouncy balls and throw them down the stairs, laughing as they would hit the sides of the walls and just bounce everywhere. Then they would run down to pick them all up and do it all over again. A fun way for us all to interact: A game we still enjoy even now that the kids are older. We have everyone think up ideas, we write them on separate pieces of paper and put them in a hat. Each person would draw an idea and act it out. Whoever guesses correctly is the next up to choose a charade to act out.
I like to be outside -- rain or shine. There are days I dressed myself and my children in full gear: toques, rain jackets, rain pants, boots to go for long walks and/or jump puddles (black garbage bags - cut out holes for the head and arms)! When we start to be cold and wet, the children would go home for a warm bath (extra play time), tea & goodies. The children usually just want to do something quiet after and I have the rest of the day for myself too.
When it is too icky we either hunker down or head out. Sometimes we turn the living room into a fort and read, colour and drink tea. The kids burn energy by wrestling with Dad when he comes home or playing Wii. Other times we head out to our favourite lunch diner - Costco, or we might take a trip to the aquarium or Science World.
When it's too yucky to go outside, we TRY to get to the swimming pool or the ice rink. Of course, that's not always feasible, so on those days, I allow the kids to use the Wii Fit where they dance, play aerobic games, and get to jump about. It's a lot of fun, actually, so I often will join in. In fact, if I'm playing with them, they'll do it longer! It's amazing how much it gets your heart rate up. We have a mini rebounder in the living room and a Bosa ball for balance, so the kids will spend some time bouncing and balancing. We also have a dog, so we have to take him out for a good walk, rain or shine, or snow! During the day, this is the kids' job, so once a day they will each take turns walking him, and if they're especially rowdy I send them all out together!
When we feel cooped up, we do try to go somewhere, anywhere. Oftentimes it's the library and sometimes just the change of scenery does the trick. If we've exhausted all our options and they're still rangy, I try to get them focused on something else like making a puzzle or playing a board game. My kids like to paint, so I try to have on hand canvases and wooden objects like birdhouses and boats (a la Michael's $1.50 aisle). Giving them a worthwhile project helps them channel their energy and when that happens, we're all happier. If worse comes to worse, they've also been known to wash walls! A terrible torture akin to hours of math exercises, so they DON'T go there often. LOL.
Recently, the solution for me to burn off some of the extra energy of my 2 little boys (5 & 6) is TREASURE HUNT ! I gave them both a simple hand-drawn floor plan of the house (with the older one, he actually loves to draw it himself) and with the hints that I'd previously hidden around, they followed the first hint that led to another and eventually the "treasure" - stickers, an afternoon tea with mom, or just another round of the game! The hints that I used were riddles (example: Hint #1 is under the "I have legs but walk not; A strong back but work not; Two good arms but reach not; A seat but sit and tarry not" in the living room), math questions (example: Hint #2 is inside page "3x8+4" of the dictionary), or just simple instructions (example: Hint #3 go downstairs and turn left, walk 3 steps and turn to your left)... Also, to make it more interesting, I encouraged them to packed their gear: mini flashlights, backpacks, toy bows & arrows/ swords for the adventure! The kids love it and they can go up and down, above and below "exploring" every corner of the house while I just sit down, enjoy a cup of tea, and listen to their laughter.
We are 'blessed' with an underground parking lot that is virtually empty during the working hours. My daughter can have a blast whizzing around on her bike, and she and her dad have also been able to 'play' hockey and even tennis. This is a life saver on rainy days.
Go to a community centre, pool, rink, gym ... do housework, bake, do the avoided tasks such as closet and desk cleanup. Reward with a game, read out loud/CD book or Adventures in Odyssey. Drills such as spelling or math with actions Jump, Jumping Jacks, etc. Realize the dog needs to go out and so do we...we have great rain gear!
Thankfully, I have two girls who seem to find things to do on their own. For example, while their favorite DVDs play, they play with lego, play mobiles, and other little toys. They also draw and read at the same time as well. Our girls are very home-bodied. Sometimes, when it rains, we leave the garage door open and play a modified version of hockey or ride bikes. Or we go for a short exploration walk to visit all the puddles along our walk. I still get them outside at least once during icy days. The cold temperature seems to bother me more than it does to the girls and they, once again, find things that interest them when things freeze and change around them. We also visit malls, their favorite stores (they range from grocery stores to places like Winners), and grandparents. They enjoy these outings and by the time we come home, they are also glad they're home.
From the February 2012 NLHS newsletter
"Clip art from PicGifs.com"