Tag Archives: activities

Boredom busters on a rainy day

It’s hard to believe that the rain is coming with all these warm days we’ve been having. But by the end of next week, the clouds are rolling in and opening up.  Basically, that means you are about to be cooped up with a house full of kids with nothing to do.

Mom, it’s going to take some planning to bust those boredom blues that will have your kids whining and you pulling out your hair. Here are a few fun ideas to make every family look forward to a rainy day!

Create a living room fort
I don’t know any kid who doesn’t find this one of the most fun and exciting things to do on a rainy day. Of course it’s going to take some looking away on your part. Your living room is about to be trashed with blankets, pillows, and everything else your munchkin needs to make his fort even cooler. But there’s some sort of magic involved when blankets are secured by the entertainment center and the couch, and there’s just enough space for a small child to nestle into and hide away from everyone else. So I say, encourage it. Bring out more blankets. Offer to help him bring down his whole collection of action figures to secure the entrance. And watch as your child creates a whole kingdom out of a space covered in cotton.

Bring on the games!
Rainy days are perfect for some family time of acting silly and having fun together. And one of the best ways to do this is through games. Create a list of things around the house that are both easy and hard to find, and let your kids go on a scavenger hunt. Play a game of hide & seek and giggle at your kids’ excitement of finding you, or being found by you. Hide an object in the house and give them clues on how to find it. Play a game of charades, and see just how silly your toddler can be as they act out their clue. Play a game of “How many things can you remember to do?” by naming 5 things for them to do and seeing what they remember – then repeat. Teach them a new card game. Set the timer and pick up as many things before the buzzer rings in a quick clean-up game. You can even bring out the board games from the back of the closet and rediscover the fun in Chutes & Ladders or Memory.

Make it a craft day
A great way to keep the little ones from being bored is to keep them busy. One lifesaver I’ve come up with is keeping a cabinet dedicated to art supplies. On days when the kids are cooped up, the cabinet is opened and all sort of projects are started.
Rain stick: Let your kids decorate an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll. Poke holes in the roll and let them stick toothpicks in at different angels. You will need to cut off ends so that their not protruding, and then glue the ends so that they stay put. When it’s dry, cover one end with wax paper, secured by a rubberband. Fill the roll with rice, and then secure the other end. Your child will love the sound to the “rain” coming down inside the house as the rain falls outside!
Homemade playdough: Sure, you can buy playdough at the store. But why, when it’s so easy to make? Your older kids will love helping you to cook the playdough, and kids of all ages (adults too!) will totally enjoy making numerous creations with the extremely pliable, colorful dough. I’ve shared a favorite recipe of mine over at SantaRosaMom.com that uses Kool-Aid as the coloring agent, and that creates a yummy smell for your kids while they are playing with it.
Macaroni art: You know that elbow pasta that you’ve been keeping in the back of your pantry, promising yourself that you will use it one of these days instead of making another blue and yellow box of the storebought dinner? It’s perfect for gluing all over paper plates or construction paper. It’s also a great way to teach your young’n about keeping in the lines. With white glue, create a picture on the surface they will be decorating (paper plate, paper, etc). Then instruct them to place macaroni on those lines so that the glue is completely covered by macaroni. The result is a picture they created “all by themselves”!
Create a mural: Bring out the inner artist in your child by having them create a mural for your wall. No, I’m not asking you to sacrifice your wall in the name of busting rainy day boredom. Murals can be created on butcher paper, like the kind at local art stores (for example, Riley Street Art Supplies at 103 Maxwell Ct in Santa Rosa sells 36-inch wide butcher paper for 25 cents a foot in length). Tape the paper to the floor, and let each child take over a part of the mural area. They can either create a project that tells one big story, or create multiple stories on one piece of paper. Don’t have butcher paper on hand? Cut a slit in a paper grocery bag and unfold it to create one large piece of paper.

Learn to do something new
Teach your child to knit. See how long they can stand on their head. Find out how to say “Thank you” in as many different languages as possible. Learn origami, how to fold a paper airplane, or have them teach your dog or cat a new trick. Teach them to tie their shoes or how to blow a bubble. Let them help you bake, filling your house with extremely yummy smells. Have them make up a game and all of its rules.

More rainy day ideas
Have a dance party. Watch a movie. Read a book. Put together a puzzle. Create a family “newspaper”. Float boats in a shallow soapy bathtub (with supervision!). Have a tea party. Play dress-up. Create early Christmas presents.

Any more ideas?

Overscheduling and Activity Burnout

The beginning of the school year can be an exciting time. Dressed in brand new clothes and carrying new backpacks filled with sharpened pencils and clean binders of white, school-lined paper, your kids get to see friends they haven’t seen for 3 months and sit in classrooms with a new teacher, breaking up their day in ways they haven’t had to in months. But it can also bring dread to kids who have already endured a very busy summer of camps, summer school, and workshops, only to have an even busier schedule with school, sports, and music, among other things. Time that once was used for independent play, sitting quietly with a book, or a spur of the moment neighborhood game of baseball has now been taken over by after school daycare, Little League practices, and piano lessons. There is no time for play. There is no time to unwind. There is barely time for homework. From the time an overscheduled kid wakes up to the time they go to bed, they are on the go. And what is the result? Activity burnout.

During the soccer season both of my kids’ days consist of going to school, then going to after school care. I pick them up and they dress in their uniforms while eating a snack as we drive to the field. An hour and a half later we’re at home. I’ll cook dinner while they do homework. After eating it is time for showers and then bed. There is no downtime. We don’t get to hang out. And all of us are more tired than ever. Quitting soccer is not an option, it is a sport that both of them love and will never give up. And being that they each have to attend practices (2 days a week per child) and a game (once or twice a week), this is bound to give us only one day off a week. And I need to work, so I can’t exactly quit their daycare either. So I get that sometimes schedules are hectic and there is no way around it. But is there an easier way to lighten the burden for kids?

Just this past weekend my son asked me if he could take golf lessons, on top of playing soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring. And he had previously asked if he could continue with the martial arts we had given up last year. I said “no” for his benefit and well being, but mostly I said “no” for mine. With a full time job, and being that I am already pulled in separate directions with both kids activities, I couldn’t fathom adding more. And of course he was disappointed. But we follow one simple rule in our house – if you want to add another activity, you have to take away an activity. Since there is only one driver in our household, we can only do one sport a season. If he wants to play golf in the fall, he has to give up soccer (which is already paid for, so it’s not really an option). If he wants to play year-round, baseball goes as well. For him, that was not a trade he was willing to make. So until he can drive himself, adding another sport is not going to happen.

Activity burnout goes both ways, too. As an overscheduled parent, it is hard to not feel exhausted at all times when the whole day consists of carting kids from one activity to another, volunteering for the PTA, assisting as team mom for the soccer team, and keeping the household together. Dinners need to be made, the grocery shopping has to be done, the budget needs to be balanced and the floor is not going to vacuum itself. When going to work feels like a vacation, it’s time to reevaluate your time.

Everyone needs a break, parents and kids. TwoKidMom on the Santa Rosa Mom forums suggested that if at all possible, take one day a week and schedule NOTHING. “I like to find one day in the week and keep that day open – no sports, meetings, anything. And if I can keep one of the weekend days open so that the kids and I can hang out, even better! It’s hard to not be on the run during the week (especially with school starting!), but if there is at least a little bit of a break to just slow down, it helps.” It also helps to strategically planning out your week so that several things can be done on the same day (like grocery shopping while the munchkins are at soccer practice). And every day needs at least a few moments of silence. Even just waking up early to sit in silence with your morning cup of coffee can do wonders for preparing you for the day.

How do you refrain from burning your child out without keeping them from doing what they like? And how do you keep yourself from being overscheduled? Have you found a happy medium?

Speaking of school…..how have you prepared your kids in the transition from a summer schedule to a busy school schedule? And what do you do to make the school schedule less hectic? Do you have any recommendations for other parents out there? Share them on the forums at SantaRosaMom.com.