Before becoming a mom, I considered myself a “homebody.” I LOVED being home – I could read, relax, binge on Netflix, and be crafty! It turns out I am not a homebody AT ALL. I was just super busy with work and life that I was rarely home, so I soaked it in when I could.
It’s a different story now.
Now, I’m a SAHM to a toddler and we’re at home A LOT, which means lots of messes, toys, and crumbs scattered e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Plus, lots of toddler playtime. I adore playtime with my daughter, but I found myself being bored when we were stuck inside all day. There’s only so many times I can play pretend that we’re Peppa Pig and George or color (my toddler really, really loves to color).
Sometimes the culprit is sickness, but a lot of days we’re stuck inside ALL DAY because of the weather. And is it just me or do these walls start to close in on you after being stuck inside the house for more than two days, okay, a day with kids? So, I knew I needed to find ways to help make our days brighter on those dreary days!
Here are 25+ rainy day activities to help the day pass by more smoothly (aka less tantrums):
- Stock up on simple crafts! We love the Target dollar spot or the Dollar Tree crafts. Not only do they come prepackaged, but they are only a dollar. For $1, I can entertain my kid for at least thirty minutes, if not longer, and I call that success!
- Story-time. Have story-time before nap time to help the transition or a special story-time during the day. Studies show high benefits of children who are read to daily. Reading to your child supports his basic speaking skills like increasing his vocabulary, identifying everyday objects, and thinking critically.
- Have a dance party! Turn on Pandora or your favorite free music app. We like the Baby Einstein and Super Simple Songs Station. They play songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and “Hokey Pokey” to get your child moving and burning some energy!
- Scrub a dub in the tub. If your kids enjoy bath time, let your kids take an extra bath! You could add bubbles or even toys like blocks. See this mom’s cool idea of a LEGO bath.
- Speaking of blocks, dump out a set! Blocks are one of the best toys for your child’s brain development. LEGOS even makes simple sets for toddlers, if you want to invest. We love the large bag of MEGA blocks and the simple wood blocks.
- Paint! Okay, painting with a toddler can be messy. If your child isn’t ready for washable paints or watercolors, let them paint with water. Painting with water works well for the fridge, a chalkboard, or even construction paper.
- Window stickers. You can often find these for pretty cheap ($1) and holiday themed. Window sticker pro: reusable, so you can gets lots of playtime with them or even let your child use them in the car; con: they tear easily (my toddler loves to shred them in tiny pieces).
- Play the flashlight game. All you need is a working flashlight! Turn off the lights and your toddler can try to chase the light (you can say the light is a shooting star or even Tinkerbell). You could also make shadow puppets!
- Befriend Youtube. There are tons of active shows on YouTube like Daniella Ballerina or Cosmic Kids Yoga. Your kiddo can burn some energy, learn a new skill, and practice following directions.
- Book and craft. There are lots of great story time options into which you can incorporate crafts and fun snack ideas. Check out this perfect winter book and craft or these fun book and sensory activity ideas!
- Build a fort. Sometimes, it’s just creating a different scene in your house. Let your child build a fort with blankets or leftover boxes (diaper boxes or shipping boxes). If you use boxes, your child can decorate them with stickers or color crayons.
- Coloring. This activity is pretty basic, but it can be easily changed up by letting them use markers, pencils, or crayons. I store each separately, so it’s SO exciting when my toddler gets something new to color with! You can also change up what your toddler colors. Besides coloring books, we love using a paper roll, construction paper, paper plates, and diaper boxes.
- Bowl indoors. All you need is one ball and a few items to knock down! You can use household items like toilet paper rolls or simple toys like stacked blocks. You could also play basketball. Again, all you need is a ball and an empty basket (toy basket or even a large bowl would work!). Your child will have lots of fun trying to ring the basket or knocking down the items!
- Play-dough. Whether you make your own or use store bought, play-dough is a great activity that helps toddlers develop fine motor skills. You can invest in play-dough accessories or just use everyday items you have at your house like a rolling pin, cookie cutters, and jar lids.
- Clean up time! This can actually be more exciting than it sounds. Whereas we clean daily and dread it, toddlers think it is exciting. I let my daughter “wash dishes” by filling up the sink with bubble water. I give her a few things to clean like a plastic cup, medicine cup, a straw. Basically, non-breakable items that allow her to pour water and experience cause and effect. I also let her clean her Little Tykes car. You can fill up a spray bottle (or not) and give them a rag. They will have fun just pretending!
- Watch an educational show and activity. Sometimes, we just need a TV break for both our sanity. I love to find shows that we can do an activity with afterwards. For example, after the short movie “Stickman” we were able to bundle up and go outside to explore nature. We pointed things we saw like leaves, sticks, and trees! We also explored nature by jumping in muddy puddles…don’t forget your rain boots!
- Create sensory bins. Not only are the options endless, but they are super easy to store and tuck back away when your child is done! Little Bins for Little Hands has a variety of easy sensory bins to choose from that use multiple senses and explore different learning areas (i.e. science, fine motor skills, literacy).
- Blow bubbles or invest in a bubble machine ($5 – $10). Toddlers love to pop bubbles and a machine does the work for you! You can turn this simple activity into more of a challenge by counting the bubbles your toddler pops or pointing out when the bubbles are high vs. low.
- Try out a fine motor activity like sticking pipe cleaners in a colander or make a music shaker by adding buttons in a water bottle. I love these ideas from Hands On As We Grow because all of the items can be found around your house!
- Play a game with your toddler! Toddlers are the perfect age to try out “I Spy” and “Simon Says.”
- Want more ideas? Check out these blogs: Busy Toddler, My Bored Toddler, and Little Ones Learn. I like to follow them on Instagram!
Like I said though, sometimes we just need to leave the house…rain or shine! Here are some great activities outside of the house for rainy or cold days:
- Just go on a drive! Believe me, when you feel those walls closing in and your sanity fleeting, just go on a drive. It gets everyone out of the house, which means a change of scenery, and no one gets wet or cold because it’s warm and dry in the car. Tip: I leave special car toys in the car for my toddler. It makes going “bye bye” all the more exciting. To end the trip, you can even treat yourself (thank goodness for drive thru!).
- Visit to your local library. Did you know your local library has free baby, toddler, and preschool classes, as well as other fun activities? Besides tons of books, the library also has a kids’ section with endless amounts of toys! More likely than not, your child will make a friend, and maybe you too!
- Check out Farm Play Days at Hidden Hills Farm. Rain, shine, cold, or warm Farm Day happens! It’s cheap and I don’t know a toddler that doesn’t love going.
- Go get a free cookie from Publix. Yep, just drive to your local Publix and go to the bakery department. They give one free cookie per child. I’m sure you need milk or juice anyway, right? Your child will think you’re the coolest mom ever!
- Take advantage of preschool playtime at the Gymnastics Center of Chattanooga (Hixson or Ooltewah locations). They have specific toddler time, which gives them access to trampolines and large balls! My toddler is always exhausted and ready for a good nap when we leave (success!). Plus, it’s free for kids under 2 or $5 for ages 2 – 5. For more information, read here.
- Play at the mall. We have two great indoor mall playground options. Before we actually stop to play, I enjoy strolling my toddler around so I can get in a quick workout and after we play there’s lots of food court options for lunch or to treat your toddler!
- Join a local mom’s group. Be sure to check out your local CMB neighborhood moms group for local mom meetups and play dates! Meet for donuts and coffee, anyone? Let our kids play at Chick-fil-A while we chat, yes please!
- Check out this great list of local indoor activities for more ideas. We love the indoor mall playground, Red Bank Bounce, and Superfly!