As parents, we’ve all been there; a rainy afternoon where boredom can easily lead to arguments. The other day was one such occasion, and one little person attempted to clout another little person with the iPad. I am not a believer in being a continuous entertainer; I strongly believe that boredom is actually a very valuable feeling, because it encourages creativity and self-appreciation. But this doesn’t mean leaving the kids to their own devices completely either. So it is up to us as the parents to direct this bountiful energy into something positive. Here is a list of ten activities which are easily set up, promote family connection, are cheap, and can be done almost anywhere (so ideal for camping / visiting relatives, and of course at home).
1. Washing the car
You have a bucket, washing up liquid and sponges or cloths? Then you can make a car wash. I have never had a ‘no’ response to this one. Its even better when its raining as there’s no need to rinse the car!
2. Making a den
Can be done in the front room, garden, shed, tent, caravan, literally anywhere! We are a throw-loving family, so we always have plenty of den making equipment. But if you don’t have many throws, towels and bed covers work. And IKEA often have fleece blankets for £1, so we tend to pick up a few of those as they always come in handy for in the car, for the pets, etc.
3. Foot spas
This is a real favourite in our family. All that is needed is a washing up bowl or a bucket, a towel, some bubble bath/shower gel/essential oils (whatever you prefer, our kids all have their own favourites) and some moisturiser/body butter/coconut oil. Fill the bowl with warm water and whatever smelly stuff you want to put in, then the first customer rolls up their trousers and soaks their feet for five minutes. Then their feet get dried, massaged with their choice of cream and toenails trimmed if needed. Then move along please!
4. Making biscuits
We make really simple vegan biscuits out of plain flour, caster sugar and vegan butter. We have a tub of shape cutters, each child gets their own lump of dough, and away they go! We also use this activity to incorporate measuring, counting, time, bigger and smaller etc.
5. Ice cream sundaes
Although we don’t do this all the time due to sugar content, it is great fun and encourages independence. We set up a tub of Swedish Glace vegan ice cream, strawberry sauce, a couple of varieties of sprinkles, some wafers or crumbled biscuits or both, and sometimes some grated chocolate, then raspberries or strawberries. Each child gets a bowl and spoon, and off they go! For the little ones this is brilliant for learning to pour and scoop carefully, and for the bigger ones it is a fast lesson in how much is too much. Jack piled heaps and heaps of everything on the first time and started to feel very queasy about half way through eating it all, a choice which he has never repeated!
6. Treasure hunt
A very simple idea; I write out ten questions, or if its just the little ones, I leave tickets. I hide them around the house/campsite/garden, and they have to find them. Its funny because sometimes older ones grumble that its ‘babyish’ or something, but they always end up joining in and having fun anyway.
All that is needed for this one is some open space and some music. We usually take turns to choose our jam. Current favourites include; the Greatest Showman, Beastie Boys and Fleetwood Mac. Discos are fun, promote turn taking and cheering others on, and its a bit of physical activity which is never a bad thing.
8. Go for a splashy walk
Don’t let rain ruin your day, it can be the most fun thing ever! Put on your scruffs and wellies and march out. See who can find the biggest puddle? Who can make the biggest splash? Can anyone catch the rain in their mouth? When everyone is as drenched as they possibly can be, go to number 9….
9. Family midday bubble bath
Baths don’t have to be just for night time. A mid-afternoon bubble bath, especially if you’ve all been out in the cold, can be great fun. All pile in, even Mum or Dad (not both unless your bath is extremely large haha). After the bath, we do ‘babies’ which is where each child is wrapped up in the towel and carried onto our bed, where they are dressed and cuddled and tickled (yes even the big one!).
10. Good old fashioned picnic
Its great to take a picnic to the park or the woods or the beach, but it is equally fun to have a picnic at home. Put a big throw on the floor in the front room, or anywhere (we have had a hallway picnic before, just because they felt like it). The children can help with making little triangle sandwiches, vegetable sticks, chopped fruit, some crisps or crackers, anything really. And sitting all together on the floor, sharing and munching is very enjoyable.
I hope you liked some of our ideas, and we would love to hear yours too! All our ideas foster a connected family, which is so important to us. Using up those spare hours here and there to spend fun, quality time together really is enjoyable, and that is where the memories are made, we think 🙂