Before my son could walk, he didn’t need a lot of entertaining. I tended to be the one who got bored and so we left the house a lot. The mall. The grocery store. Walks in the park. Wherever I could with colorful things for him to look at – that’s where we’d spend free time.
Now that he’s learned to walk, talk, and express his wealth of opinions, I don’t get to choose as often. He knows what he wants and when he wants it. Should I stand in the way, he’s the first to let me know.
But when the clouds roll in, the sky opens up, and the rain starts to fall, things get more difficult. Not quite able to understand why he can’t go outside in the rain, and more than a little upset about it, it takes more than his blocks and an Elmo board book to make up for the fact that we won’t be going to the playground when a thunder storm is overhead.
As a result, we’ve developed a checklist of things to try when this happens. While there’s no guarantee any one of these will do the trick, most of the time a little creativity and a whole lot of patience will get us through the bad weather in one relatively happy piece.
We don’t watch a lot of TV, if only because he turns into a unresponsive zombie when it’s on and he rarely asks for it. The one exception to this rule is baseball. I have an MLB.tv subscription to watch my home team Seattle Mariners from across the country and the fact that these games are on throughout most days seems to have made my son a fan. The best part is that the nature of the game makes it an interactive activity. From explaining what is happening on screen to cheering Mariner hits, we have a lot of fun watching clips and games together.
Elaborate Obstacle Courses
What rainy day would be complete without a reconstructed living room? While my son certainly does a good job of this on his own, particularly nasty days bring out the builder in both of us. From blanket forts to race tracks for his growing collection of trucks, we find ways to turn old toys into new activities.
Remind Him It Is Raining
While it would be foolish to underestimate the stubbornness of a toddler, I do my best to remind him that it is in fact raining outside, explaining why we can’t go in the yard, and even reminding him that, sometimes the rain is dangerous. It works on occasion.
Find an Indoor Playground
Indoor playgrounds are never as good as their outdoor variants, plus they tend to be a little gross. But with sanitizing wipes in tow and expectations in check, we’ll visit the local Children’s Museum, the toy section in Barnes and Noble, or the play areas in our local mall.
Record Short Movies of Him
We take a lot of photos and record movies whenever possible. It’s too easy not to with a smart phone always in hand, so there is a large library of images and videos featuring our son on electronic devices throughout the house. He knows what they are and, better yet, he knows when we’re recording. It makes for some fun exercises in climbing, tower building, and general craziness as he hams it up for the camera.
Make Something New to Eat
Your mileage may vary with this one. I have been blessed with an exceptionally open minded eater for a son, so we have a lot of fun trying new foods, experimenting with (admittedly questionable) combinations of condiments, and taste tests. Whether he’s offering suggestions while I cook or taste testing the results, this is a fun way to burn an hour or two on a rainy afternoon.
Drop in on a Class He (Might) Be Too Young For
This is less of an issue now than it was 6 months ago when he was technically too young for most of the toddler-focused classes in our area. At the time, though, most classes we found were for children two and up. We’d go anyways, though, and nine times out of ten it was still quite a bit of fun. He enjoys observing older children and had a blast painting, building, and playing with musical instruments.
There are moments when nothing I do or say is enough to compensate for the rain. If a two year old wants to be outside and can’t go, he’s going to make his displeasure known. But with the right combination of distractions, cultivation of activities that don’t require the outdoors, and a willingness to have fun with it myself, we still manage to have fun most of the time.
Featured photo credit: Purple Rain/Matthias Ripp via flic.kr