Yet again we have had a pretty miserable summer – the odd sunny day has broken out between the cold spells but by and large we have had to suffer downpour after downpour. There’s a barrage of websites, blogs and twitter feeds out there giving us desperate parents ideas on how to keep the little ones entertained when we’re stuck indoors. But sadly the picture perfect suggestions (often illustrated with impossibly cute smiling children and totally unflappable mums) just don’t work in my world. Here’s my experience of those ‘what to do when it’s raining’ suggestions:
Water play – for some reason it’s too wet to let them play outside but it’s perfectly OK to give them a washing up bowl of water at the kitchen table or let them play in the sink with a load of bath toys and bubbles. Cue soaking wet children, sodden floors and puddles all over your house. It really would have been simpler to let them play outside
Painting – you cover every perceivable surface with a wipe down sheet, put newspaper on the floor and get the kids to don aprons before you even take the lid off the paint. Then sit back and watch them ditch the paper and brushes, stick their feet, hands and toys in the red, green and blue gunk before declaring they’re bored after just five minutes, and want to do something else. That’s a lot of setting up and cleaning up for not a lot of entertainment
Craft – we have a massive craft box with everything you could possibly need to satisfy the most demanding child’s imagination. Sadly what we are lacking is parental talent. Mister Maker, Art Attack and the like make it all look too easy but somehow my creations always end up looking like they should be heading straight for the bin. My more creative friends face a different problem – they want the finished products to look perfect and the children’s involvement just ruins things – move over little ones, perfectionist mum is on the war path!
Baking – I am no Mary Berry (I blame my ancient oven) but I can just about rustle up a round of fairy cakes. The problem is once the eggs have been cracked and the flour and sugar poured in all the kids want to do is eat it. Forget licking the remnants out of the bowl, my kids would quite happily eat a whole batch of raw fairy cakes. If I do manage to get some mixture into the oven, their attention turns to icing. Invariably they get impatient so the icing gets put on warm cakes, melts and we end up with a gooey mess. Sometimes it’s just easier to pop to Sainsbury’s
Board games – I love the idea of playing snakes and ladders or Cluedo whilst the rain lashes down outside. In reality I have two children who cannot bear to lose so unless Mummy is the loser’s chair there are always tears and sometimes a tantrum. There’s rows over which counter everyone is going to be, then the three year old inevitably gets fed up and wanders off causing the six year old to get annoyed. Far more emotional hassle than it’s worth – therapy anyone?
Tents – all kids love to make tents but can you really face having all the duvets pulled off the beds, losing your tea towels and watching your clean washing being dragged onto the floor? Constructing a tent isn’t that easy either – by the time you’ve got the chairs, clothes airers and upturned ladders in the right position it would probably have been quicker to pitch a real tent
So let’s just watch TV – when it’s pouring down, the babysitter in the corner of the living room can come into its own. You can’t feel too guilty about endless films and cartoons when it’s pitch black outside. But even watching TV isn’t that straightforward. No two siblings want to watch the same thing at the same time – it doesn’t matter if you have identical twins when it comes to viewing habits there will be miles apart. Cue more referring and confiscation of the remote controls just to get a bit of peace.
So next time the heavens open and we are threatened with a year’s supply of rain in 24 hours can I suggest a few things:
Put on waterproofs and wellies and go puddle jumping, make mud pies or go fishing in a dip in the pavement. Yes, you will all get wet and dirty and you might be a bit cold but most of the mess will be outside, the kids will bond in the face of adversity and no doubt have a ball!