Fun things to do with kids on a rainy weekend

Rainy days don't need to be boring.
Rainy days don't need to be boring. Photo: Getty Images

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You know that sinking feeling. It is Friday afternoon, you check the weather forecast, and 'rain' is on the menu all weekend. There will be no playing outdoors, no trips to the beach or ball games in the park. There will be no scootering down the street, or bouncing on a friend's trampoline, or walking down the street to get an ice cream.

No, there will two full days of downpour, two days of huddling together on the couch, gazing mournfully at the rain-soaked windows, wondering who will go stir crazy first.

(In my family, by the way, it is the eight year old, followed closely by me.)

Rainy weekends can be hard, particularly if your home doesn't include an indoor play centre, full time nanny or heated pool. Kids need activities to keep them occupied, and we parents need our kids to be occupied so that we can stay sane.

So what are some ideas for a rainy weekend at home?

1. Craft mornings. The key here is to seek the best return on your mess. In other words, choose activities that maximise length of time playing and minimize chaos. Creating treasure chests out of old shoe boxes, making collages from magazine clippings, and of course the old favourite, home made play dough, tend to keep them occupied for a while.

2. Baking days. Okay, it can take half an hour to get the cake in the oven and an hour and a half to clean the kitchen. But then the cupcakes require icing, and the iced cupcakes require decorating, and of course there's the requisite tea party afterwards with nice cups and plates and inanimate guests, so it's definitely worth it in the end.

3. Cubby houses. It is a mystery to me that kids can need constant entertainment when they are sitting on the rug, but put them in a cubby house and they can keep themselves occupied for hours. Doing what? I don't know. But throw a few rugs over your kitchen table, add a bowl of popcorn and some toys, and you won't see your children till dinner time.

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4. Monopoly. Nah, only joking. That game is excruciating.

5. Toy tidy. I often implement a 'toy tidy day' on a rainy weekend. The kids need to go through their toys and throw out what they no longer play with. Virtually nothing ever gets thrown out, but that's not the point. The kids inevitably discover toys they haven't played with for ages, and end up sitting on their bedroom floors deeply engrossed in play. Try it. It's like magic.

6. Talent show. Ask the kids to sing a song for you, or make up a dance. Or perhaps they can write and perform a little play, or tell a story. The key, of course, is to send them away to rehearse and dress up. They can even put together a little set for the performance, and draw up a program. It's all about time consuming preparation….

7. Movie night with takeaway food. There is nothing especially exciting about watching a move at home, and there is nothing especially exciting about dinner. But combine watching a movie with eating takeaway food and you have an actual Event. There is that whole 'eating in front of the TV' thing, which the kids love, the whole 'eating fun food', which we all love, and of course the ultimate, the 'no cooking and no dishes to wash' which I love. Perfection.

8. Rain play. Get the kids dressed up in gum boots and raincoats and send them out to play in puddles. This works best just before bath time, so that they can come back inside and hop straight into a warm bath. Rain looks oppressive from inside a house, but it can be quite exhilarating when you're out and in it.

9. House cleaning. Getting the kids to tidy and/or clean your house. (If you can wrangle this one, please let me know. I've been trying to do it for years.)

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