Expert Tips for Entertaining Kids on Rainy Days

06/06/2017 05:11 pm ET

After this past winter—California’s wettest in more than a century­— nannies and babysitters here know a thing or two about how to entertain kids on rainy days. No matter where you live, you’ll have rainy days to contend with this summer, so I’ve asked our experts in the UrbanSitter community—to share tips for keeping kids busy by burning off energy and getting their creative juices flowing. You’ll want to hold onto these!

1. Get Moving

Not every rainy day needs to be a lazy one. Instead of quiet time activities, get kids moving. Especially effective for kids who need to play hard to sleep well are fun, ingenious videos like the ones you use to squeeze in a quick workout. Check out videos like this one from Fitness Blender (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=McD6_oOWs-M), which was shared by a sitter who also suggests getting kids pumped up for exercise by proclaiming, “It’s indoor PE day!”

Other fun active ideas include indoor obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, and if you have the space, tumbling on carpet or mats.

2. Go Old School with Quiet Time Arts and Crafts

There are plenty of rainy day activities that are “oldies but goodies” for good reason. Nationwide, sitters and nannies attest to the popularity of traditional crafts and games, such as playing with play dough (consider making your own), working on a puzzle together, painting, coloring, tackling a craft, or building with Legos or blocks. When you need to freshen up the routine, one super babysitter suggests taking goofy photos with a toy camera or iPhone. Kids love it!

3. Take to the Kitchen

I’ve never met a kid who didn’t jump at the chance to work some magic in the kitchen. One of my twins, now 10, relishes the opportunity to tackle more complex (read time consuming!) recipes, like homemade pasta and sauces. For easier cooking that’s suitable for younger kids, think rice crispy treats, hot chocolate, or cookies. There are also plenty of non-edible kitchen projects, too, such as whipping up a batch of wildly popular slime. Countless nannies and sitters name ooey, gooey slime as the biggest hit with kids of all ages! Check the web for slime recipes that use natural and safe household ingredients.

4. Make to Believe

You can take indoor fort and tent building to the next level—one that makes the building and playing last all afternoon—by creating an event around it. An experienced sitter suggests announcing to kids that they’re going on a field trip to the zoo or on a camping trip, and inviting stuffed animals or dolls to come to the tent. Consider inviting a neighbor or friend, too. Blanket forts can also set the scene for a fun pajama party.

Other pretending favorites include playing school, hosting a dance party or having a karaoke singing contest.

5. Take an Excursion

Don’t let rain ruin the day. As long as it’s just rain—without thunder, lightning or strong winds— sitters say put on rain boots and jackets and let kids splash in the puddles. Getting wet and a tad bit muddy is thrilling for a lot of kids. If your crew doesn’t agree, try taking a leisurely trip to a nearby place, such as the library (many branches offer story time and activities for little ones), a movie, a bounce house center, or a museum. Just getting out of the house is what it’s really about.

Keep in mind that play is more than just having fun or filling time. Countless studies have shown that humor, games and roughhousing have tremendous positive impact on kids’ social and cognitive development. Find a babysitter or nanny who understands the value of play, and give her a hand by sharing these suggestions for having a little fun on a rainy day.

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