Any parent will know that keeping bored children entertained is no mean feat. When cold weather or rain keeps you stuck indoors, it can be tricky not to rely on some extra screen-time to stop the kids from getting cranky.
As a mum myself, I’m always on the lookout for boredom-busters on rainy days… which is approximately 99% of the year here in Ayrshire.
Check out my list below of some of our favourite things to do when we’re stuck indoors, or just fancy a day at home.
1. Create a Fort or Den
It doesn’t matter if you’re four or thirty four, everyone loves den building! Spend a rainy afternoon building the biggest and best den you can from things around the house. Drape king-size sheets over your dining chairs, use the sofa cushions to make a comfy floor and fill it with blankets and pillows. Extra brownie points if you can get the fairy lights to stay on too!
2. Get Crafty
When the rain appears, it’s time to crack open the craft box. There are so many fun things you can create together on a rainy afternoon. Make a giant paper chain, some posters for the playroom, cards for friends and family, handmade puppets and so much more. I’d recommend a mix of the following in your craft box: empty toilet roll tubes, PVA glue, poster paint, glitter, pipe cleaners, coloured paper or card, tissue paper, a mix of paint brushes and sponges, stick on eyes, pens and Play-Doh.
3. Dot Sticker Games
If you don’t already have a stockpile of dot stickers ORDER THEM RIGHT NOW. Seriously, they are so handy and you can use them for all sorts of games – like ‘stick them to mum’s face’ which is my toddler’s favourite right now. We have a pack of them in every bag along with a mini colouring pad, crayons and a few small toys for the likes of waiting rooms and restaurants.
I found out about them through Susie over at Busy Toddler. Here are just some of the amazing ways she uses them for learning.
4. Do an Indoor Scavenger Hunt
A fun indoor scavenger hunt will keep kids busy for hours! A simple list with pictures works best for toddlers and younger children, as they can see what they’re looking for even if they can’t read the word yet. Try making up some fun riddles and planning a treasure hunt for older children instead:
“These are soft and come in twos, you put me on before your shoes” - Socks
“Your first clue is near the place where you eat. Go there now and look under your seat” – Dining room
5. Create Some Vegetable Stamp Art
This one takes me right back to primary school! Who else remembers making artwork from apple halves and potato shapes? Kids still love it! All you need is some fruit or veggies, poster paint and different colours of card. Squeeze a dollop of each paint colour into paper bowls, let them dip the vegetables in and then stamp them onto the paper. The best ones to use are corn on the cob, citrus fruit cut in half, peppers, potatoes and celery sticks.
6. Bake Fairy Cakes
Who else remembers spending their Sunday afternoons baking with their parents or grandparents? Pass on the tradition by having your very own bake off! Little ones will love helping mix ingredients for fairy cakes, and once they’ve cooled you can let them go to town on the decorating! My top tip is using paper cake cases to hold toppings like sprinkles, chocolate buttons and mini smarties. Less mess and no dishes to clean-up - you’re welcome.
7. Have a Movie & PJ Day
Sometimes all you want to do on a miserable day is keep your pyjamas on and spend the day on the sofa – and that is absolutely ok! Plan a family movie day by getting everyone to pick their favourite film to be shown on the big screen (AKA the flat screen your other half bought on Black Friday without your consent…). Get everyone into their comfiest PJs and lay out a movie theatre themed buffet for lunch with mini popcorn buckets, nachos, hotdogs and juice.
8. Make Raindrop Sun Catchers
Let the rain inspire your child’s creative side with these fun raindrop sun catchers. They make a lovely window display for the playroom once finished, and making them is great for developing fine motor skills. Check out this easy tutorial over at Pre-K Pages to see what materials you’ll need to get started.
9. Balloon Tennis
Let them burn some energy off with indoor sports games (ornament and tv friendly, of course). How about a game of balloon tennis? Simply blow up a bucket of balloons and split into teams of two, depending on how many of you there are. To make the bats, tape wooden lollypop sticks to some paper plates to make handles. Game, set, match!
10. Have an Indoor Picnic
Kids love an adventure, no matter where it is, so why not arrange a family picnic at home! Set up the picnic blanket and fill your hamper with all their favourite finger foods like mini sandwiches, strawberries, breadsticks and dips, and something sweet for you all to share after lunch.
11. Read Some Stories
Get your little one ready for nap time, or even just some quiet time, with their favourite books. Create a cosy reading nook easily with lots of pillows and blankets, and offer some warm milk and their favourite teddy to snuggle up with. You might even get to enjoy an afternoon nap too – parent win.
12. Turn the Paddling Pool Into a Toy Pit
A bit of rain shouldn’t stop the kids having fun in the pool – bring it indoors instead! Inflate it in the living room, give it a clean and fill it up with toys! Turn it into a ball pit, a stuffed animal zoo, a massive toy car garage or a giant sensory bin for babies and toddlers.
13. Make Your Own Pizza
Even the fussiest of eaters will love getting involved with this one. Giving children a free reign over their tea could help them try new veggies they’d never dream of eating before! Start by giving them a plain dough base and set out bowls of tomato puree, grated cheese and a mix of colourful vegetables and toppings for them to add themselves. Tried and tested combinations in my house are ham, cheese and mushroom or chicken, peppers and onion.
14. Bubble Wrap Run
Got a stash of bubble wrap you don’t want to bin? Spoiler: kids LOVE it.
Tape down large strips of it along your living room or hall floor to make fun walkways for them to run and jump on to pop all of the bubbles! You could turn it into a competition if you have more than one child – whoever pops all the bubbles first wins a prize. You can also keep the offcuts and smaller strips to make paint prints and use in craft projects!