Staying Home Instead
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 4, July-August 1998, pp. 122-24
We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.
"Staying Home Instead" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help parents who choose to stay at home with their children. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's life-style. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.
I am an at-home mother and I find that our days are mostly full and busy. However, rainy days are a big challenge. Somehow, the fact that we are marooned in the house makes everyone a little louder, a little more sensitive, and automatically bored. On rainy days, I feel like sending out a message in a bottle saying-help! How have others coped with gloomy-weather days when everyone is stuck in the house and getting on each others' nerves?
I look upon rainy days as a blessing. It's a chance to spend solo time with my children: no running around, no extra friends. I even forget about daily chores. Depending on the ages of your children, there are numerous projects you can do. The main thing is you must lead the children and be with them; try not to drift away.
Often we play "Noah's Ark." We gather all the stuffed animals together and construct a boat out of pillows. We sing songs and laugh. This often leads to puppet shows, play acting and story-telling, and quite often a nap among the pillows and animals.
We also love to bake, then have a tea party or picnic. My twin boys, now five years old,. have loved tea parties since they were a year old.
Art projects are a lot of fun too! Before it rains again start filling an art box with supplies such as toilet paper rolls, juice and milk containers, yogurt cups, and cereal boxes.
Eat a healthy lunch and plenty of good snacks. Unhealthful food tends to make everyone edgy. Also, no wild games: this gets out of hand and gets too noisy. Just have fun. Soon you will be looking forward to rainy days.
East Northport NY USA
I am the mother of a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a six-month-old. We also start feeling very trapped on those days we can't get outside. I have started a rainy day box. I have included lots of different things that the kids don't usually get to play with: different coloring books, stickers, books and toys that are never out on other days. I am very careful to only get these out when I really need them and I try to add something to it every once in a while. They can hardly wait to find out what is in the box! I also use this on days that I am feeling under the weather or we are just having a difficult day.
Overland Park KS USA
If you have a garage, park the car outside, and let the little ones use their ride-on toys and push toys in the garage. Depending on the wind, you might even be able to leave the garage door up! Wear jackets if need be. Just the novelty of it can do wonders for a restless, house-bound crew. Of course, children need supervision in most garages; wanting to be able to use ours for bad weather play got us to clean up our garage and child-proof it, a bonus for making our home safer.
Ankeny IA USA
I have the same problem with rainy days. While it's tempting to let the kids watch TV, and sometimes that keeps them quiet for a while, I find that the constant noise and stimulation makes everyone irritable. I like to put soothing music on the stereo, or else loud "dance-able" music and let them burn off some energy. We also have some kids' dance and yoga videos that help them keep busy and get exercise in the house. I find that my kids are not nearly as reluctant to go out in the rain as I am, so sometimes I send them out, with rain jackets and small umbrellas, then pop them in a warm shower and give them warm tea and snacks when they come back in.
Sometimes we get out those complicated games and crafts that we don't have time for most days. That's why we put those things away "for a rainy day"!
Weston WI USA
Raising a four-year-old in a harsh northern climate has forced me to come up with a variety of activities to fill snowy/rainy days. Being on a budget, we keep our options inexpensive. Here are some of our favorite escapes.
Our goal is to get out of the house if possible. New scenery is refreshing to frazzled nerves. Our local library has a play area for children. They have toys, mats, pictures, and, of course, books. We play and then select books to bring home and read.
A local educational toy store has a large play area full of neat toys to play with. I can browse while Mike plays with toys he doesn't have at home.
Fast food restaurants often have great indoor gyms for patrons. We find this really burns the excess energy.
Sometimes we drive and look for birds, trucks, or whatever. Mike now likes looking for road signs. Or we'll drive to the water and watch the waves, ice, and gulls; it's very relaxing.
We like to go to a craft store and shop for items to bring home for an activity. There are some great types of clay available. We enjoy stringing beads shaped like animals and flowers.
If leaving the house just isn't an option, try to spend time in an area of the house that you don't usually occupy. For us this place is the basement. We head downstairs and sweep, chase cobwebs with the vacuum, and organize. We explore Grandpa's old desk and always find something new. We look through Mike's old toys and bring some back upstairs. When looking through his baby clothes, Mike found the breast pump supplies. These came upstairs and have provided hours of pastime, as he fits and refits the parts together.
We also spend time organizing spices, cupboards, closets, photo albums, and scrapbooks of art work. This lets us touch and see things we usually don't see daily. This adds variety and helps break the dullness of being stuck inside the same four walls!
Oshkosh WI USA
When we are at home, whether it's for sickness, rainy days, snow days, etc., projects are usually the action of the day. These could be cooking-food projects, or making something (to look as real as the real thing as possible) out of a cardboard box. Another favorite is building forts. Blankets, clip clothespins, and furniture are the media for an amazing collection of new living spaces. Then the kids pack a backpack with snacks, flashlights, and sometimes Lincoln logs for firewood, and go camping in their new fort.
Spreading a blanket on the floor for an indoor picnic is a favorite, too. I think the kids were surprised and pleased to have me plop down on the floor with them for this one. It didn't matter what we ate. They also used the blanket for a swimming pool, putting couch cushions around the edge, against the hard corners of furniture and woodwork, and then jumping from them as the diving board.
We also like to go to bed and read or sing, or say we will take a nap (though we rarely ever do). Puppet shows or made-up plays or acting out a favorite book is fun, too. Your nightgown becomes the princess's dress, with a towel for a robe, and a cardboard crown. You get the idea!
Don't forget the store theme—lining up the stuffed animals makes a pet shop, with each chair as a cage. All the canned and boxed foods in the cabinet can be used for a grocery store, too. Or have the kids take orders for a pretend restaurant, with you making the menu from what you have available that's easy for them to handle. Then sit down and be served!
On snowy days that are okay for going outside we spray the snow with trigger spray bottles filled with colored water. Once, when the snow was stuck to our fence from a windy storm, we painted each picket a different color in a repeating pattern.
We find What to Do with the Kids on a Rainy Day and Kids' Guide to Building Forts good references for ideas, but the kids come up with extravagant ones of their own, too. The main thing I try to keep in mind is that creativity is important. I try to overcome the feeling that "This is going to be messy." It usually is, but it's worth it, because the children learn so much from making things themselves; they enjoy playing with their creations and use them for many different purposes.
Most importantly, your role in being there with your children and doing something different with them makes a memory you'll hear about for a long time. It all comes down to enjoyable time for you and your children. Their play is their work and they learn from the time you are spending with them.
Scranton PA USA
We have a "rainy day" box that I try to keep stocked with home-made gift ideas for the holidays. On rainy days, we make hand prints on inexpensive aprons and book bags for holiday gift giving. We make homemade wrapping paper with our own footprints or thumb prints. The effect of "El Nino" in our house has led to a stockpile of greeting cards made with stamp pads and stampers. Keeping the peace isn't easy on rainy days, but we do have a productive hour or so!
Mary Margaret Crombez
Livonia MI USA
Sometimes on rainy days, I've felt like sending for help too. After a few of those days, I learned to plan ahead. If it's a warm rain or not too hard, we take a walk in the rain and collect "treasures," splash through puddles in our boots and enjoy our situation. Other days we cook our own play dough and color it ourselves. We make finger paint out of cornstarch. Sometimes we continue our usual routine of activities outside the home and just take towels with us to dry off if we need to. Other times we snuggle and read books, take naps and do puzzles. I often bring out the art box and we do projects. I stock the box with supplies for projects that I know would work because I hate to get halfway through a project and discover I don't have any glitter or paper towel rolls. There are several books on the market that I found in our public library or that I purchased just for such occasions. One I like is titled Where is Thumbkin?; by Pam Schiller and Thomas Moore. It's designed for toddlers through about age six. It has lyrics to kids' songs and art, language, science, and cooking activities that are related to the song. Laurie Carlson has several books; one is Colonial Kids with sewing, cooking and games. Variety seems to be the key for us.
Marilyn Sears Lindsey
Frederick MD USA