6 Indoor Toddler Activities to Try on a Rainy Day
As the warm weather finally makes it way into our lives, it may not be the instant sunshine and endless hours outside that, as parents, we are hoping for. We might long for the days when we can kick our kids outside for the day, like mothers in the past, only welcoming them home again, dirty and happy, for dinner and bedtime.
But of course, times are different now and most of us can't (in good conscience, anyways) kick our kids outside and wave goodbye. Thanks to April showers, yucky weather, or maybe not having a yard, it's that time of year when we'll need to dig deep and find creative ways to keep our little ones entertained.
Here are a few ideas for indoor toddler activities to try on a rainy, snowy, or just otherwise yucky day.
Make your own play dough
My kids absolutely love play dough but I hate the store-bought play dough, primarily because of the mess it creates. When my oldest daughter was in preschool, I discovered the magic that is homemade play dough and since then, I have never gone back.
First of all, making the play dough a fun experience in and of itself–I get the kids involved, let them add a scent to the play dough while it's cooking (we usually do cinnamon) and then let them choose a food dye to turn it their favorite color. They love it and because it's something we don't do a lot, it's extra special. I use this recipe for homemade play dough (spoiler: make sure you have cream of tartar and coconut oil on hand!), divide it into equal parts for how many kids happen to be around, and let them dye it as it's cooling on wax paper. After that, it's good to play with and as a bonus, it's totally safe to eat should you happen to have curious toddlers. The play dough will be good for a week or two if you store in an air-tight container, but be sure to check it next time you play with it because it's food-based and it will mold eventually.
Boxes, boxes, and boxes
If you're an Amazon Prime mom, like me, you may be the proud owner of a whole lot of boxes. Whatever you do, don't throw them out or recycle them just yet. Start a stash and on a rainy day, pull out one of your super secret boxes and throw some crayons in it. Stick your toddler directly in the box (bonus points if you turn the box on its side so it's extra fun!) and tell them to make an airplane or decorate the box as their new playhouse. This little activity is always a hit with my kids, even the bigger kids. Crayons + boxes = the best entertainment.
Scour swap sites for cheap fun
One of my go-to mom moves is scouring local online swap sites for cheap, ridiculous toys that I wouldn't otherwise buy. For example, using Facebook Marketplace last month, I was able to score an official indoor bounce house for my kids (it has a weight limit of 250 pounds!) for only 50 bucks. It's been a lifesaver the yucky winter weather and on rainy days, it will be a great option to burn some energy. I've come across a lot of really cool toys this way–last week, I saw someone selling an indoor roller coaster–for a lot better prices than you would ever find in a store. I feel like they are a good way to try out a cheap novelty toy that I won't feel bad about my kids ditching in a week.
Roll out some wrapping paper
Whenever possible, I try to buy cheap wrapping paper or even just plain white butcher paper (your local newspaper often sells giant end rolls too) to have on hand, for wrapping last-minute gifts and for use when my kids are bored. You can roll the paper right on the floor or across a table and let them color, paint, or use markers without fear. There's something about the “newness” of the paper across the table that makes the project so fun for them.
That's right, I said it: try some yoga. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I say that if you're going to be stuck in a house with a toddler, you might as well try to enjoy some of the activity, too, right? Here's the key: don't expect this yoga practice to be an interruption-free, totally zen flow. Instead, it will probably end up with your toddler crawling all over you, but that's completely the point! It will get both of you moving, laughing, and hopefully tire everyone out for nap time. Try a free video for beginners, like Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube or if you're feeling particularly brave, turn on a kids' yoga channel. Who knows? Your toddler may just surprise you by busting out some serious downward facing dogs right alongside you!
Embrace the water
If it's nice enough out, tug on some rain boots on your kiddo and send him or her outside to splash in the rain (supervised, of course!) Some of my best memories have been watching my kids splash around in puddles in the rain–there's just something about them thinking that they're getting away with something they're not supposed to do that makes the activity all that more fun for them.
And if it's the type of rain that isn't conducive to singing in the rain, it's time for early bath time. Call me a terrible mother, but there have been many a desperate witching hour that I have spent in my house letting my kids play in the bath just to keep them entertained. Once, I even let them play with colored shaving cream to extend the fun. Mother of the Year, right here.
Also, for what it's worth, rainy days aren't forever and I would totally encourage you to enjoy any cuddles, afternoon naps, and movie nights you can take advantage of. Trust me on that one–kids don't want to hang out with you forever, so in the grand scheme of things, a rainy day with a toddler isn't so bad.
What are your favorite indoor toddler activities?