Rain, rain, go away… as often as I want to be the parent that bundles up my kids and sends them outdoors in any type of weather, I’m not. We do our fair share of puddle jumping, but some days are just too wet or my kiddo is not feeling 100%. Raising kids in the Pacific Northwest has allowed me to gain insights and strategies for successful indoor play. PS- I deem “a successful day” as minimal screen time and no major meltdowns; some days it is simply all of us making it through the day.

How to cure cabin fever

Have a strategy. Period. The days that I think, “oh we will see how it goes” or “everyone will find something to do” the kids start pushing buttons almost immediately. They are bored so they go after each other. “Mommmmm… sis ate all the cereal on purpose.”  “Mommm….he is poking me in my back.” On and on and on. While sipping my morning coffee, I devise a strategy and a backup plan. I am not an arts and crafts mom, but I can get my kids engaged and all of us through a rainy day at home successfully.

Get kids involved in an activity, then check in. An author much smarter than me once pointed out that taking a couple minutes to check in with kids will help them stay engaged in an activity. I have definitely tested this and found it works 90% of the time! If my daughter is playing with her play kitchen and it has been about 15 minutes, I will go into the playroom, get on her level, and ask what she is doing. My 3-5 minute conversation with her will allow me to leave the room and she will keep playing by herself for another 20 minutes! I’ve tested this with Legos, playdough, and coloring too.  If I get either of my kids started on an activity and connect with them before they get bored, they will play longer!

Rainy Day Activities for Kids

I appreciate minimal prep activities. Fort building is an absolute favorite in my home. I can pull out the sheets, kitchen chairs and stools, and my children are in heaven. They compromise, design, and build then engage in pretend play! Remember bag clips work well in helping the sheets stay in place. Once the fort is built and they have been playing for a while, I’ll bring them a snack, books, or coloring that can be done inside the fort earning myself bonus independent playtime!  

kid's indoor fort

Making playdough on the stovetop is surprisingly easy. A trick I learned from a crafty mom is that you make it without any food coloring and then the kids can use markers to color the playdough. Genius! Kiddos love playing with the fresh dough and there are so many things they create when they can color and shape it.

Another favorite rainy day activities that I have found is making hot cocoa and then engaging in reading time by a window to watch the weather. True this one takes more effort on my end, but I want to develop in my kids an appreciation of the different seasons and the small pleasures we can take when we are forced inside. Besides everyone needs an excuse to eat handfuls of marshmallows sometimes.

Finally my tried and true, calm down the indoor chaos is bath time. Depending on the age of your kids and the size of your tub this can be an individual or group activity. The secret to getting my kids to hop into the bath is glow sticks! I have never been told no or had any resistance when I pulled these out. With or without bubbles a bath with a couple of glow sticks has been a favorite for my kids for years. Bonus; turning down the lights to see the glow sticks and the warm water of the bath instantly reduces the noise level in my home.

List of Indoor Games

Limiting my kids screen time on a waterlogged weekend is a challenge, but these are a couple of my favorite indoor games that work with a variety of ages and differing number of participants.  Hide N Seek- boom!  My easiest, go to activity- period.  My kids love this game and they are surprisingly patient with the each other’s ability to hide and seek. They give clues and/or pretend it is more difficult than it is. This is an easy game for me to join in too or step out of to take a phone call or return a text message.

Puzzles are a true gem in the indoor game arena. They are great as independent activity or as a cooperative play. They teach spatial skills, problem solving, and help develop fine motor skills. Everyone can work at their own pace!

A Memory game has so many variations. Of course you can use a box set, but my kids really like more creative ways of playing. Recall the object memory game that you maybe played at a bridal or baby shower?  You set out objects then cover them up and remove one, and then you try to recall what is missing. That is the version that works well in my home. We adapt the objects and the amount do items depending whose turn it is. Be warned this game can get silly and of course they love it when they can stump me.

Rainy days at home are best when they are embraced with a bit of planning and acceptance that they will take engaged parenting. A little prep and forethought will allow for both independent play and family time. Please comment below any of your favorite indoor activities. 

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