After emerging from a cold and wet bank holiday weekend, here are some tried and tested suggestions to entertain the kids indoors without breaking the bank. Having a technology free day in favour of some quality time is the best way to take advantage of the rainy conditions.
Build a Den
What child doesn't love building a castle or a fortress indoors? Pick a room in the house that you don't mind being rearranged for a few hours, and get creative. Using sheets, blankets and lots of pegs or butterfly clips, secure your roof and create turrets between chairs, sofas and tables. Encourage your children to use their imaginations - they can create rooms inside by adding towels and other furniture. When in the newly created structure, you can dress up and act out stories from their favourite books, even having a picnic lunch or snack in their new den.
This activity should provide hours of entertainment for children of most ages, and is especially great fun when you have friends' children over for a playdate. Otherwise, be prepared to have to crawl inside the den, enter the fantasy and encourage their creative ideas!
Warning: you must also prepare yourself for the barrage of objections you will doubtless receive when it is time to put it away!
Fashion show spring clean
This one is a favourite with Team Babyblooms. As well as keeping the children busy, it's also an opportunity to put a big tick on the never-ending to do list!
It's a fun way to spring clean the children's' wardrobes - put on a cool fashion show! Place lamps in your hallway or landing and turn on their favourite music. Now, let your kids strut their stuff down your makeshift catwalk. Cheer them on from your audience chair at the end of the hall, as you decide whether each item is ready for the bin or charity shop, delegated to the hand-me-down or sewing baskets, or still fine to wear for another season. Sorting through your children's wardrobes and de-cluttering has never been so much fun!
A treasure hunt is a great way to amuse kids large and small. You can hide treats, but if you're health-conscious, hide toys instead - just use a specific set so they know what to look for, such as the Barbie collection, matchbox cars, or leftover party favours like balloons or toy whistles. Give each child a small basket to collect their loot in - they could have some fun decorating this for an extra activity. You could even let the kids create a deck of colourful picture cards to use as your scavenger pieces. To keep them engaged, offer a prize or treat for the child who brings back the most loot each round. This is a game that can be played for hours on end, with the right incentive!
Make your own no-cook playdough
Children really enjoy play cooking, so provide rolling pins, plastic cutters and plates to create your own playdough. Items from the kitchen can be just as much fun as expensive cutter sets and tools. Playdough is easier for young children to handle than plasticine or clay and these homemade playdough recipes provide fabulous cheap alternatives to the shop-bought varieties. When a new baby arrives in a family older siblings can often feel left out, why not make a batch of playdough as a gift for the new big brother or big sister, or even offer to make it with them! This heat-free method is a tried and tested favourite of the Babyblooms team, visit www.babyblooms.co.uk to view more recipes for playdough.
• 250g plain flour
• 50g salt
• 140ml water
• 1 - 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
• Few drops of food colouring (optional)
1. Mix together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and oil.
2. Knead well until mixture is smooth for about 10 minutes. You might need to add a bit more flour or water until the consistency is smooth but not sticky.
3. Add food colouring and knead until the colour is fully blended.
4. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until chilled enough to use.
By going back to basics, you don't have to feel limited by the weather in finding fun activities. Even though summery days out will always be preferable to a weekend washout, you and your children are creating memories that will always be treasured.