Rainy days at home with the kids - 10 top tips to save your sanity.

Living in Britain, the weather is a constant feature in our everyday lives. It's changeable nature, our beautiful seasons and the days and days and days of constant rain. At best, it provides a great topic of conversation with total strangers whatever scenario you find yourself in (now there's an idea for a blog!). And at worst, throw kids into the mix, it can be hours and hours with your noses pressed against the window.

It's been a looooong winter - it always is. And inevitably, althought we start with good intentions to not let the colder temperatures, the damp and bracing winds bother us - it's just a bit 'fresh' after all - by February half-term, it generally does get a bit tiresome.

But - don't worry! We have put together some top tips and activities you can do with the family on some of these rainy days. As the Cat in the Hat said, "I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny. But we can have lots of good fun that is funny!" So, here goes ...

1)  Games! Ok, I know this is a bit of an obvious start. But sometimes we do forget the fun that can be had. Or we're a bit bored having played them all winter. We suggest having a good dig around and seeing what board games you may not have played for a while. Card games are great fun and can involve a broad spectrum of ages. Perhaps you've got some left over from your own childhood that need dusting down and revisiting. Maybe you might want to think about swapping some games with a friend or neighbour? Getting the children to design their own game is a great way of spending some time and involving all sorts of various activities. 

2)  Get, set, BAKE! Yes, another traditional rainy day activity but worth a mention. If you're a baking family you'll already have some ideas and resources. If you're not, it doesn't have to be too involved ... or too messy. A basic biscuit recipe can go a long way - you may have baking cutters already but if you've got some playdough accessories, these can also go a long way in making it an interesting activity. It might mean a short trip out but other recipe ideas include ready made pastry and sausagemeat for some quick and tasty home-made sausage rolls. Most big supermarkets will also sell the pizza base dough to create home-made pizzas. Although again, pizza dough can also be really easy to make. Just Google. Making it a Bake Off style competition can add some extra fun!

3)  Have a clear out. Ok - this is borderline housework but ... channel that spring clean feeling, it's a chance to get the job done and get the children involved. Talk to them about what they might have that they don't need and investigate ways of recycling or reusing. They might be the kind of children that enjoy the chance to get their rooms a bit more organised and create some room for all those fresh, new and exciting activities. 

4)  Bedroom move around. Along the same theme, sometimes a change is as good as a rest. Spend some time with them in their space and see what you can easily change for a fresh look and feel. My 8-year old has been begging me to do this for months and rather now, when we're in from the rain, than on a bright, sunny day.

 5)  Make a video. Use your phones, ipads or even old fashioned video cameras to let the kids have a go at writing, directing and starring in their own video. Remember Morph? We use a brilliant Apple app called Animate Lite that is free, super easy to use and can bring inanimate objects to life ... Barbie, toy trains, Slyvanian Families, playdough and even food can be used to tell a fabulous and fun story.

6)  Make a 'world'. More for younger children, we used to do this with the girls when they were younger and it sparked off all sorts of imaginative play. Clear the living room floor and let them find and bring together every animal, or every dinosaur, or every vehicle they own, to create a whole 'world' in which they can play.

7)  Build an indoor den. Not everyday will be a rainy day so give over a bit of the house to a cosy hideout that maybe all the family could chill out in. Turn the sofa over, move the dining table, dig out all the cosy blankets and fill it with comfy cushions.

8)  The hunt is on. For a treasure hunt, everybody could take it in turns designing a series of clues - there is nothing like the thrill of the chase and a special treat at the end of the game. A scavenger hunt could see you working in teams ... you might even get to locate some long lost items you're sure the children have hidden away ...

9)  Big art. It's always useful to keep a wipe-down table cloth for these occasions. Throw it on the floor, get the art and craft supplies out and give them an artisitic challenge to get their creative juices flowing. They could start with putting pieces of paper together and drawing around themselves - then filling in the shape.

10)  Write a letter. This is what we did in the olden days ... and it's a fabulous activity to encourage our children in. Not only is it a treat for the recipient, it's an absolute thrill for them to receive a piece of post for themselves. In the past I've set up penpals for them with family from abroad or children of old uni friends. Encouraging them to write letters to older relatives or family friends is also a lovely idea.

11)  Old photos and videos - of you, of them or of grandparents and beyond. What a real treat it is for you and them to get out the old photo albums for a browse through. You could take the opportunity to print out some more recent memories and photos and get them to produce their own photo album.

12)  Watch a film. You knew this one already but maybe choose a special film, make some home-made popcorn and snuggle down together for a relaxed and cosy afternoon.

We hope some of these ideas might be of use. Until the sun shines again, think of this as special time together for all the family.

Rainy day

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