After months of cabin fever, spring is the season to enjoy being outdoors again. It’s also a time of year when rain can keep families and children indoors. Using some creativity and forethought, parents can devise ways for children to keep busy and stay active without resorting to what can often be the indoor default—screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of screen time each day for grade school children and also advises setting limits for older children and adolescents. This reinforces the need to find alternate activities for kids when weather prohibits outdoor play. Here are a few suggestions:
Set up activity stations. Assemble several stations or activity corners throughout your home for kids to enjoy. The possibilities are endless, but some ideas for activity stations include bouncing on an indoor trampoline, dancing to music, completing a puzzle or craft, building with blocks or Legos, or reading a short story. Set a timer for five to 10 minutes, signaling when it’s time for kids to rotate to the next station.
Build a fort or design an obstacle course. Get out blankets and pillows, throw the couch cushions on the floor and help your kids build the world’s greatest indoor fort. Celebrate your accomplishment by sharing a healthy lunch or enjoying afternoon story time under the canopy. Building an indoor obstacle course is also a great way to keep kids moving on rainy days.
Turn on some tunes for a dance party. Dancing is an excellent form of exercise for children and adults and a great indoor activity for the whole family.
Don’t give up on Mother Nature. If rain is gentle and the weather’s not threatening, consider letting children put on their rain boots and stomp around in puddles or play in the rain. They’ll appreciate the chance to run off some steam and enjoy the fresh spring air. Unless it’s too windy or cold, the family also can take a short walk in light rain.
Get creative. Drawing, coloring, painting and sculpting are worthwhile indoor activities that allow children to use their imagination and explore their creativity. If your family enjoys cooking, spend a rainy day whipping up a healthy meal or snack.
With some planning and “thinking outside the box,” you can turn rainy days into fun days for the whole family.
Holly Smith, MD, specializes in family medicine. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Primary Care-Anson and can be reached by calling the office at 317.768.6000.