It’s been raining a lot this week round our way (pesky winter storms) and my ideas for keeping our daughter entertained are starting to wear a bit thin. I reckon there are a few parents in the same position so I thought a round-up of the best rainy day activities for kids was in order. As much as possible I will try and keep the activities to free ones and they are all ones where you leave the house so everyone can get some fresh air (even if it is during the dash to the car).
Hopefully, you will get a bit of inspiration, if I’ve missed a peach of an activity that keeps your family sane when the weather is awful, please share in the comments.
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Free (or cheap) places to go when it’s windy and rainy
Quite often when the weather is windy, raining, snowing or just plain cold the temptation is to stay indoors. There are loads of things to do inside on a rainy day and this post from Rainy Day Mum rounds them up really well. Instead, I’m going to focus on going out.
1. The play park
Are you crazy?! I hear you cry- well yes, probably! The park isn’t that mad an option if it’s only drizzling or if it’s just short spells of rain. The key is to be dressed for the weather. Our daughter has a cheap puddle suit and wellies that we put her in when we know the play equipment will be wet or there will be loads of puddles for her to jump in.
The bonus of going to the park in less than ideal conditions is the lack of other people around so your child can always go on the slide without having to wait. Word of warning for the slide: if it’s wet and your child is wearing a puddle suit they will shoot straight off the bottom at high speed. Laughter is allowed only after checking nothing is seriously wrong 🙂
2. Feeding the ducks
Like the play park, feeding the ducks does involve wearing waterproofs, however, the ducks are usually even more eager to be fed as no one has been along yet that day. Some parks can get a bit fussy about what their ducks are fed so no lobbing a whole loaf of bread in! At our duck pond this isn’t much of a problem- what the ducks and geese don’t have is finished off by the seagulls and the pigeons….
3. The library
I have quite often sought refuge in the library when the weather is bad and I can’t bring myself to put another episode of Peppa Pig on. In fact, this is what I tried to do yesterday but it was closed as the heating had bust! Our local library has a children’s room with all levels of reading books, toys for younger children and even drawing sheets set out. For older kids there are computers to use just for them. If you haven’t checked out your library yet give it a go, larger ones even have cafes attached for a coffee or even lunch.
4. Museums or art galleries
Quite often local museums and art galleries are completely free (usually the ones run by local councils) and are a perfect way to spend a few hours with your kids. Young children and older are entertained and even the slightly shabby looking displays are not noticed by kids as they tear around looking at all the artefacts/ buses/ cavemen. Again, some may have a cafe attached to make it into a longer trip out.
5. Toddler groups
You probably already go to some groups if you have younger kids but there’s always room for one more especially if the weather’s bad. Our local area has a website that lists groups that are on different days. Children’s centres are also a good place to check out as they often have a number of groups that you can go along to. Most of the groups will have a small charge to cover venue costs, but you usually get a drink thrown in!
6. The station
One of my friend’s mentioned this as something her Mum did with her kids when looking after them. It was something I’d never thought of but is actually quite inspired, especially if you have kids who are train or bus enthusiasts. Just go to your nearest train or bus station (the bigger the better really, but as long as there’s shelter and a few coming and ago it will still be fun) and watch all the arrivals and departures.
Make the activity even better by designing tickets and timetables beforehand, then you can have fun at the station looking at all the destinations on Google maps. You can use a notebook to write down where local buses are going then trace the route on a map back home. Loads of maps will be available online to print off. Even little kids will enjoy watching the trains coming and going.
7. The supermarket
I know this may be a lot of parents idea of hell- going to the supermarket with bored kids- however, if you make it into a trip for them it might actually be fun. This works better with slightly older kids although pre-schoolers would have fun with a bit more direction.
Choose a recipe for lunch or dinner before you go (let them decide if you’re brave enough) and then write a list of everything you need to buy for it. Then off to the shops you go. Let them have a little trolley or basket and get them to find and choose all the ingredients.
Once you’re home they can then help you with the cooking, or even do the whole thing with supervision. You get the shopping and cooking done, they have fun!
8. Retail park
These are quite often our go tos when the weather is dreary but we want to get out of the house. Our daughter would love running up and down the aisles in places like B&Q, Curry’s and GO Outdoors. As long as you police the things they are touching and don’t let your child go completely wild I don’t see much wrong with it. Now she’s a bit older we do this less as she just wants to buy everything in the shop! GO Outdoors is a particular favourite as they have tents set up so you can do a bit of den playing without having to trash the front room! Just don’t stay for too long otherwise you might get funny looks from the sales assistants….
9. Free sessions run by shops
If you don’t feel comfortable using a shop as a playground, how about going along when there’s a free session on? Obviously, the day/ time might not coincide with the bad weather but it’s worth investigating now if there is something on at a shop near you for the next time you need to get out and about.
A number of shop chains run things:
LEGO shops do a mini build once a month where you can take a kid aged 6-14 along and on a first come first served basis they get a mini build to make and then take home with them.
Pets at Home offer free workshops for youngsters at different times and venues throughout the year. The workshops will cover different animals and how to look afer them.
Dobbies garden centres have a Little Seedlings group running once a month at all but one of it’s stores. The gardening club for kids aged 4-10 lets them learn about plants, wildlife and the environment.
10. Go to church
Quite a lot of churches (especially in towns or cities) are open all the time for visitors and a lot of them are free to go in. Pop a pound or two in the collecting box if you are so inclined and then have a good look around at the stained glass, lovely carved pews and ornate font. Reading the names and inscriptions on gravestones in or outside the church is rewarding as well. Take a moment to think who that person might have been, what sort of life they would have lived etc- all good for imagination games.
Rainy day sorted!
Hopefully, you’ve found a few new things to do with your children when there’s bad weather and you need to get out. A lot of my ideas are for people based in towns or cities- any great ideas for more rural activities would be really welcome. Let me know in the comments below.