When we moved to Aachen, we did not realize that it will rain so much. Friends who already lived in the city warned us but we thought that we can used to this. I know the number of the rainy days per a year are not as high as in England but close to that, so you can imagine. The first thing that we noticed that if it rains just a little bit, people don’t bother pulling up their umbrellas. They just don’t care and it was strange to me. But after a year living in Aachen one day I noticed that I don’t bother anymore either when it rains a little. It was shocking: me becoming an “Aachener”. So after all it wasn’t that bad, only in wintertime when it rains and rains and no snow for weeks… And one day my son was born who started to walk in October of course, which means he was constantly moving somewhere and our apartment was too small for him. We had to go outside every single day except when it was raining cats and dogs: then I refused. I hate rain and i rather stay inside if I can but then of course I had to come up with some ideas for my son to enjoy the time spent indoors. And I thought it would be a good idea to share this with other moms who are struggling with indoor activities. Since then my son turned two, so some of the activities are for a bit bigger kids, don’t be surprised. So here we go.
1. My son’s number one favorite activity is READING.
I know it’s an obvious activity but I am very thankful that he loves reading and I think it’s worth mentioning.
2. If you ran out of interesting children’s book, get on the bus (or in the car) and VISIT THE LOCAL LIBRARY! Or book store. Or exchange books with other families. In our case Aachen’s children’s library has a great playing area for toddlers, where you can find building blocks, puzzles, logical games on the walls etc. beside the millions of great books. Check out your local library, they might have something similar!
3. VISIT FRIENDS who might be also stuck at home and the kids can play together. Also obvious.
4. DO THE SHOPPING together. I know sometimes it’s more like torture to go shopping with your toddler but it might be just the right thing. You know your kids the best, see what he or she is in the mood for. My son would go shopping at least twice a day. It is not that fun for me but he can still enjoy the time we spend together. When leaving for shopping sometimes I tell my son what we need to get (for example milk, something easy for him to remember) and he would tell me at the store not to forget it. Awesome, right?
5. Searching pinterest for ideas I tried a couple of things and also came up with my own ideas. One of those was DIGGING GAME: I took a big and deep tray from the kitchen, pored some rice or occasionally lentils into it and let him play with his toy excavators.
Sometimes I would hide small toys in it and he had to collect them. Other times he just played with the kitchen tools and dishes and cooked me from the rice.
6. BUILD A CLIMBING FORT! It works only with bigger toddlers who can already climb without falling down and of course enjoy this activity. My son for example can not sit in one place any longer then three seconds only if I read for him. So for run-around-boys this is a great activity.
Make sure that the chairs don’t flip and put some extra pillows around your fortress.
7. PAINT! But don’t just paint with brushes, get creative and paint with toy cars, marshmallows, funny-shaped pastas, forks etc.
8. Create things with PIPE CLEANERS!
Or for smaller toddlers just show them how to pull the pipe cleaners through a strainer and let them try.
9. We were getting rid of a huge desk the other day and we saved the upper part for MAKING A SLIDE. We keep it now behind the sofa just in case and whenever we are stuck at home, we just pull it out and play with it. It also functions as a slide for the toy cars.
But be careful: don’t let the kids play with it alone! As you can see on our picture, my husband is supporting the slide with his feet otherwise it would be a dangerous toy!
10. Around Christmas your child can BUILD his/her own CHRISTMAS TREE from mega blocks and decorate it to his/her taste!
11. DRAWING BOXES!
I bet you also have some big boxes from buying all the diapers… Well, use them! Or any other big cardboard box would work. My son loved to sit into them as he was smaller (around one year old) and I gave him crayons or markers (made for small children!) and he drew inside the box. This was a great thing to do with him because he was sitting in one place at least for ten minutes and I could do something that needed to be done, like preparing for lunch.
12. Let your child stuff SMALL TOYS INTO A BOX. I used small wooden farm animals and a wipe box. My son loved this and he asked to open the box for him and do it over and over.
13. STICKERS. Yes, you can play with stickers even with toddlers but of course you have to help him/her peal the back off and the he/she can try to stick it alone. Use your fantasy and get different themed stickers, different sizes, and there are the puffy stickers and google eyes. With those you can even make monsters: draw funny shapes or real animals and let your child put the eye wherever he/she wants!
I made my son a sticker-book from colored papers, so he can even draw in it.
14. GIVE your child a simple CHORE. We were cleaning shoes for St. Nicolas as a tradition and he would bring some sweets and put them into the “good children’s shoes” on December 6th. But he was over two years old when we did this together, for younger kids I would not recommand this.
15. CLOTHES PIN AND RUBBER BANDS. Somehow it seems like a good play: pretend hanging the clothes. My son would clip the pins onto the rubber bands. I don’t exactly understand why, but this is how he plays this game. Once he and daddy even built a guitar out of rubber bands and mega blocks. Check it out, isn’t it awesome?
16. In summer time I froze ICE CUBES WITH TOYS IN THEM and let my son melt it by hand. He sat on a towel and tried to pull out the toys. It’s definately a good game with a smaller toddler.
17. MATCHING GAME. I found this great idea somewhere on pinterest: On a large paper put random things (toys, shapes, lids, kids’ scissor etc.) and draw a line around them. Then take away the objects in a hat or bag. Let your child pick one from the bag and search for its place on the paper. At first they might just look at you how this game works. Show them a couple of times. I thought I completely failed this one because my son didn’t want to do this at all. Then we went out and when we came back he went to the paper alone and put all the objects at their places.
18. BAKING TOGETHER. Just be sure to pick a recipe that requires no egg, this way it won’t be a problem if your child eats the dough.
19. VISIT THE TRAIN STATION! We used to d o that a lot when it was raining: get on the bus, go to the local train station and just look at the trains stopping and leaving. You can also explain your child where you can buy a ticket, wave to the leaving trains etc. Our monthly bus pass allows us to travel with train within the city limits. So last weekend all three of us went to the train station and we traveled by train to the east end of the town, then to the west end of the town, then back to the main station. I know, not every city or town has a train station but if your town does, then it is definitely worth a trip! Even in rain! And we went just to look at the trains when my son was just one year old and he loved it. It is never to early for a boy to learn about trains and other vehicles.
20. FISHING GAME: You will need a washbasin or a bigger bowl, some magnetic toys (I took the magnet letters from the fridge), a wooden spoon and a metal object to tie it to the wooden spoon. First I took teaspoon but it was simply too difficult to fish with, then I took an L-shaped thing. This game seemed a bit difficult for my 28 months old son but afterwards he took the “fish” to his play kitchen, baked it, put it on a plate and “ate it” with a fork and knife. So it actually worked. Not the way I was planning it, but it did work and I am happy.
I hope you found something that you can try with your child. I would be happy if you shared your ideas with me: what worked for you the best! Thank you for stopping by!