April 2, 2019
By Angela Borders
Ways to Get out of the House (and Keep Your Sanity!) with Kids on Rainy Days
Oh the weather outside is frightful, and the kids are maybe acting less than delightful…
Ok, so before we had kids, I loved rainy days, spent curled up with a good book or video game, lazily watching TV or just enjoying the calm of the sound of rain while sipping tea or cocoa. But those days are LONG gone, and if you are like me (someone who needs to get outside at least a little every day), you might be feeling a little stir crazy with all this rainy weather we’ve been having.
In an upcoming post about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and one on how motherhood has changed me as a person, I’m planning to discuss how winter weather/being cooped up inside can, for some people, really affect our mood. This may not be the case for all people, but it definitely is for many. Whether it’s because of something like SAD, anxiety, or just your kids driving you crazy, having a tried and true list of ideas for things to do to get the kids out of the house on rainy days is a must.
Before getting into it, I think it’s worth noting that these are all things that have been great for us, but that might not be ideal for everyone, and that I am only going to list things that I’ve actually personally done–I’m sure there are MANY more places/ideas out there. Also, I’m going to group them based on easiest to more complicated (ie, something you can just hop in the car and go do versus something that requires gear, a bit of planning, or maybe some supplies/cash).
These ideas are super easy ways to just get out of the house without a moment’s notice. They are perfect for that moment when you’ve just stepped on your third lego, heard the 999,999,999th annoying whine of the day and just need to get. out. NOW.
1) Go to the Store, Any Store.
This is not your monthly stocking up at Costco I’m talking about. This is your spontaneous trip to browse target, or your trip to the 7 11 down the street just for a coffee or soda. Maybe you get ambitious and go to a toy store or thrift store. Maybe you get into it and do end up hitting up Costco (or, not), but in the moment, all that matters is that you are going to a place and are doing a thing. Just that simple act of momentum and activity can be a breath of fresh air, much needed after too many hours in your house.
2) Go to an Indoor Park
These can be just as good as going to a regular park, if not better–cafe’s, nice bathrooms, and children are more contained than in a park on a busy street! A simple google search should bring you up a bunch of results, but a few we’ve used lots of times that we highly recommend are:
Both of these are inside churches, which I imagine for some could be a turn off, but do know you don’t have to be a member of the church to go there (we aren’t), and no one bugs you about attending or anything like that. Also there are plenty of other places that have indoor parks too. These two are just the best we’ve been to and are our go to indoor places to let our guy just run around if we need somewhere to do that on a rainy day. Think less chuck-e-cheese/ fast food restaurant indoor play place, and more relaxed cafe with lots of room for kiddos to be active and play.
But! Plenty of fast food indoor play places or the like can be great too! Anywhere that my kid can run around and work off some steam and I can sit and maybe drink something caffeinated is a win in my mind.
3) Go to the Library
Your local library is a wonderful resource for entertainment for your kid/s, and a place to rest for you. We love all the libraries we’ve ever been to, but are especially partial to those in Roseville now. Maidu, Martha Riley, and Downtown all have kids play areas with toys, imaginative play structures (puppet stages, trains for “riding”, train tables, etc.) to play in/on, and frequent story times. If you haven’t been to your local library and you have small children, you should get there ASAP.
Plus, all our libraries have great parks right near by and trails, for when the weather is better. Martha Riley’s park in particular is pretty impressive, with three different parks for different age levels–not to mention the utility exploration center, which is basically a very hands on look at resource use in Roseville (we always have fun there playing with the hands on activities). Bonus, that’s indoors too!
Still Easy, But Not SUPER Easy
These are ideas/places that are still pretty easy, but that I wouldn’t necessarily say you could just go to at the drop of a hat. They might require a bit of cash, some supplies, or just some actual, y’know, effort.
1) Indoor Play Places
Ok so I don’t know what the word is, or if it exists, that distinguishes an indoor play “place” from an indoor “park”, but I personally differentiate a “park” as a place that lets me do just that: park myself. On a bench, at a table, whatever. Play places on the other hand….not so much. I may *choose* to play with my kid at a park, I may occasionally need to push him on a swing or catch him at the bottom of a slide, but it’s not a *need*. At a play place, there is a need for me to be more watchful. Whether because the place is bigger, the structures harder for a smaller kid to navigate, or just because it feels like I should, some play areas for kids just don’t feel like places I can just let my kid run around on his own. I’m sure this varies a lot from kid to kid and changes a lot with age (our ‘lil guy is only 3!). Deciding which places are like that for you is up to you but for me, it’s these following places that we love to go on rainy days, but that definitely require some effort on my part:
-The Mall/Mall Parks
-Tumbling type play places (like Tiny Tumblers)
-Big indoor play places (like Wacky Tacky)
-Any place where I can’t easily see my kid/know where he is at all times.
Basically, just think less this:
and more this:
I’m sure once he’s older I’ll be fine with him running around in the latter, but for now, we tend to stick to the former.
2) Play Dates
It’s amazing how much going to someone else’s house, or even having people come to yours, can feel like such a huge change from just regular routine. Of course this takes some coordination and planning, but it can be done fairly easily, especially if you’ve already got some close buddies. If you are struggling with finding play date buddies, check out my post on finding your mama tribe. Being able to get social connection with friends, and get social interaction for the kiddo is a win win, and definitely shakes things up.
3) Random Family Friendly Events
These days, it’s not hard to find family friendly events going on all the time, many of which are indoors. Whether it’s from facebook, meetup.com, sacramento365, or somewhere else (maybe just googling the city you live in + events + the date), there is bound to be something going on somewhere. Another place we turn to all the time is sacramento4kids.com.
We love Sacramento365 and use it all the time. Just checking them right now (as I write this it is a Friday night), there are 8 events going on tomorrow that look awesome (a music class, a crafting thing, two Disney on ice shows, a game night, something called “tot planetarium” and “babies love animals”). We won’t be attending any of those, but I think that’s a good sampling of the sorts of things you can find in just a few seconds pretty easily. Facebook is also really helpful for finding these at the last minute, and is how we found MANY free trail days of classes and other group meetups.
Will Take Some Effort
These are things that will definitely cost a bit and that will require some planning. They might take a good chunk of the day, may involve a lot of hands on attention, and could be stressful if you are already feeling overwhelmed. These are definitely not activities I would personally do spontaneously unless we don’t have much else going on that day and I feel up for a bit of work.
1) Kids’ Museums/Misc. Paid Activity Centers
These places, and others like it (places that offer imaginative and creative play) are AWESOME, but they definitely require me to be watching and probably assisting my kid, and there is a lot to DO there so we will be hanging out for a good couple hours minimum. Not to mention there is a fee. Totally worth all that, if we’re up for it, but not something we do regularly. Some examples we’ve enjoyed are:
We go to the movies a lot. Probably too much, honestly. But going to the movies is such a nice, easy way to get out of the house with very little work. The only thing that makes this one take a bit of effort is the cost really. And maybe needing to be on time (but honestly, who really cares if you are just seeing a kids movie you don’t really like if you miss the first 5 minutes?). Sometimes, it’s just nice to go out and see a movie, and a lot of times there are cheaper tickets in the earlier part of the day. This one is another one that might be more or less doable depending on the kid of course. In our case, our guy has always loved movies and will sit quietly. For Two Hours. So you bet we go to the movies all the time.
3) Regular Museums, Aquariums, Art Galleries, Etc.
These are places that may be fairly easy to go to with your kid/s, but that is going to vary wildly depending on the kid and the environment. For example, we enjoyed the new SeaQuest in Folsom, but my kid is pretty quickly bored with the reptile place at the Sacramento Zoo (which isn’t super great in the rain, but is a great fair weather day trip). On the other hand, we can browse our favorite fish store, aquarium depot, for a good long time (they even let you feed the turtles for a dollar!) and he absolutely loved the big aquariums in Monterey and San Francisco. We’ve also loved the Crocker, the Aerospace Museum, and some small forays into smaller galleries during big events like Second Saturday/ wandering downtown. But a lot of those trips were when my kiddo was smaller (he’s pushing 4 now), and with multiple kids, or a more rambunctious kid I can imagine some might be off the menu.
4) Sport Centers/ Misc. Athletic Centers
This is one I didn’t think of until talking with a friend, because it’s up there on the “will take some work” level for me, but it could be really great, especially for older kids/kids that really need to let off some physical steam. Things like roller rinks, ice staking rinks, batting cages, indoor soccer fields, etc., could be a really great way to let your kids work off some energy. Since our guy is a bit younger though, the only experience I can personally attest to in this area is with the ice rink Skatetown, which we absolutely loved. They had a lot of activities for kids, fun music and lights, and Aiden had a blast.
This takes even more work, but things like swim lessons, gymnastics, tumbling classes, music classes, etc. etc. can be a great outlet, and a fairly easy outing. They definitely will require more planning as there is a set schedule to follow, and very likely there will be fees–though free class days are constantly happening and not to hard to find. We did free trial days for everything from music classes, to tumbling, to kids Zumba. Facebook constantly advertises things like this, so they are easy find, but may still take some planning ahead for.
A few classes we can recommend are:
6) Get Outta Town
Drive to some place with better weather! This might sound crazy, but hear me out for a sec. If you have the ability and the rain has really got you that down, we are lucky to live in an area where driving an hour or two in any direction could bring you dramatically different weather/surroundings. Drive a couple hours west or east and you could be in snowy mountains or at the beach. And there is a whole lot in between and north or south too. This is a pretty drastic measure, and certainly the one that would take the most planning/work (unless you are a fan of just winging things!), which is why it’s at the very bottom of this list. I’ve only ever done this a couple times, but both times is was actually really refreshing and I got car naps out of my kid for it, so in my mind, that was a hard win.
This list is meant to be just some suggestions, and is absolutely not exhaustive. And plenty of the things on here might not work for plenty of people for all sorts of reasons. But at the very least, I hope it can help get some ideas going for you if you are in need of some inspiration, and if you are like me, full of cabin fever in all this rain, know you are not alone and that a little bit of peace can be just a creative solution away. Good luck to all us parents just trying to stay sane in the rain.