Remember when rain used to be sort of fun? You could sip tea and curl up with a book all day. Then you had children, and rain started to feel like punishment. After a day trapped inside with squirmy toddlers or preschoolers, your house will look as though it was hit with a tornado instead of a thunderstorm. Arm yourself with enough games to keep them busy, and rainy days will be fun again.
As much fun as your children will have being in charge, you’ll have just as much fun taking a break from leading the activities. According to HealthyChildren.org, it’s developmentally normal for a preschooler to use lots of inventive play and to take on the role of Mom or Dad. Declare your child the pretend parent and let her tell you what to do. You might need to pause the game occasionally to enforce house rules or keep your child safe. Otherwise, let your little dictator serve you lunch off her miniature dishes or strap you into the backseat of an imaginary car. A day full of (imaginary) errands will never be so relaxing. This is a game that could last for hours if you let it.
Have a Ball
Using soft foam or plastic balls indoors lets your toddler or preschooler burn off some energy without putting your breakables in too much danger. Sit across from a toddler on the floor with your legs out and roll or toss one or several balls back and forth. Set up an indoor bowling alley by lining up several empty plastic bottles at the end of a hallway; take turns rolling the ball down to see how many you can knock over. Try juggling multiple balls, or bring a beach ball into the living room and tap it back and forth, trying to keep it from touching the ground for as long as you can.
Want to get those children moving without allowing chaos to reign? Try some controlled movement games. Play freeze dance in which everyone must bop around to some children’s dance music. Whenever you press pause, everyone has to freeze in her current position until you press play again. Another safe indoor game is the classic follow the leader; give it a twist by playing an animal-themed version. Let each child take a turn naming an animal of her choice. She then gets to lead everyone (even if everyone is just you) through the house while everyone imitates the animal. Fair warning: You can sway like an elephant and crawl on all fours like a dog, but slithering on your belly like a snake is not as easy for an adult as you might think.
When your little ones are getting too wound up and need a little quiet time, set up a variety of games at the table or on the floor. In addition to children’s board games, matching games are appropriate for young children, but can get boring eventually. Take a tip from “American Baby” and keep children interested in these games by including some familiar faces. Pick out a photo of each member of your family and make a copy of each one. Tape each picture to a small piece of colored paper. Spread the cards out and let children take turns trying to match them up into pairs. For a preschooler, turn the cards over and take turns flipping over two at a time until you’ve found all the matches. You might also ask your child to sort the cards into groups based on gender or by the color of the paper cards.