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Rainy Day Strategies for Cooped-Up Kids

Today in Oklahoma it's cold and rainy, surely the first sign of a change in seasons. As we enter the transition from warm, sunny weather to colder, wetter weather, some of you moms may be going crazy because your kids, already feeling weary of Covid-related restrictions, can't go outdoors to play. What to do?

Over the years I've found some ways to help kids use up their energy without destroying the house, requiring tons of attention and involvement from you, or requiring you to rely on Netflix. You may need to be involved for a few minutes here and there, but for most of this you can just stay out of the way!

First, calisthenics. If you have a whistle, great, but it's not required. Tell the kids you've got plans for some fun things today, but that first, they'll have to do their exercises! Line them up, say "1, 2, 3, go!" and let the jumping jacks, burpees, running in place, push-ups, and squats begin! Kids actually love this kind of things; after ten minutes or so of this they'll have used up some energy and be ready for something else. Keep your whistle handy, and go through the same routine whenever you sense them needing to switch things up a bit throughout the day.

"Cave" is next. They'll need a blanket or two, or some sheets, to drape over furniture in an area of the house you won't need access to for awhile. If you have glow sticks left from Independence Day, or some flashlights, let them use those. If not, maybe you could let them use some small bedside lamps or nightlights to illuminate their "secret cave" once you've turned out the other lights! Your kids can read, listen to audiobooks, or pretend they're pirates, or dinosaurs, or what have you. This is so much fun, you may be tempted to join them for awhile!

If they get tired of cave, you can always try old stand-by kids' games like Charades, Mother-May-I, and Red Light/Green Light. If you aren't sure how to play those games you're very young, and will need to look them up on the internet. You can't miss with Hide and Seek; kids can play this for hours, along with another, more modern version called Stealth. All of these are great fun, and lots of kids have never tried them, so you've got to give it a go!

Pretend scenarios, like Library, Store, and Restaurant are usually a hit, and lots of kids still love playing dress-up. Let the kids use things from around the house for setting up desks, store shelves, making menus, creating "office space", etc. An old deck of cards works very well for pretend money. Although it may seem old-fashioned, playing house is really lots of fun! Girls can use mommy's shoes and old purses, boys can use dad's shoes--create pretend diaper bags, use dolls, let them set up a pretend kitchen, and add whatever items allow them to imitate the kind of work mom and dad do.

For toddlers, line up some kitchen chairs, one behind the other, and you have a train! Little pieces of paper can be tickets, and if you have a hand-held hole punch it adds to the authenticity; even though most American kids have never been on a train, they somehow recognize how it should be done. Ask them where they'd like to go, make chugging sounds, punch their tickets, and enjoy their delight.

I'm sure you can come up with lots of other ideas that will fill the hours with non-screen fun. Be sure to throw in more calisthenics as needed, and don't leave out mandatory quiet time and chores! Rainy days can sometimes be the most fun, because they provide a perfect opportunity to change things up. Have fun!

I would love to hear about your rainy day activities! Please leave your ideas on the website (, or email me at

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