Right, have spent forever in the house now with sick children, or worse children who have illness' (chicken pox in our case) but are apparently still full of beans. There is only one way to survive this, have a selection of activities that will keep you, and them entertained, plus have a good Chardonnay on chill for seven o'clock, and a mobile full of funny texts to reply to...
Can't or won't share the chardonnay, and the mobile texts are probably only entertaining if you're me...so here are my Top Ten Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers (or a 2 and 4 year old in our case...)
1. Craft comes in at number one. Favourite not too messy craft activity is collage. This has the fantastic bonus of enabling you all to flick through your favourite magazines and comics, then cut out the best pictures. For the littler ones, you'll need to speedily cut lots of nice pictures (of whatever they might like from fairies to tractors) for them to stick. The most effective places to stick the pictures have been on old Ikea stools, to make their own little places to sit/use as a side table, or making special treasure troves out of old shoe boxes. Just have a glue stick per person, do make something yourself unless you get caught up in celeb goss world as they and you will enjoy it. Once all the pictures are stuck down and dried (this may take a while if your children are specially keen on using glue), then cover with a piece of sticky back plastic. I newly love this stuff, you can buy a big roll of it from WHSmiths, or other stationers quite cheaply, and it gives a real 'professional' edge to the collage or decoupage work.
2. Sorting out things, I personally love this one, and so do the children. My favourite is going through their wardrobe's, getting them and their dollies and teddies to try on outfits and putting them in four piles; one to go back in the wardrobe, one for the charity shop, one to put aside for friends' children, and finally one for those lovely bits you want to keep forever. The sorting out can be moved to dollies clothes, or for my son, to sorting out Playstation games, this keeps him happy for ages even though he only has nine (bless). Part of the fun is putting them in categories, i.e. driving, Sonic games, snowboarding etc. Other times we've sorted the car box, the pens and pencils, and spent many a happy hour trying them all out, and sharpening them (I know we need to get out more! But this is for when you can't risk your germ laded family on the world, so relish in your inner order queen or king.
3. Cooking things, this really can entail cooking absolutely anything, from helping wash the vegetables for dinner in a large saucepan with a scrubbing brush to the usual fairy cakes and cheese straws. When I simply can't be bothered to cook anything, we decorate plain biscuits, just a bit of icing sugar and water, then use anything we can find to put on top, usually hundreds and thousands, chocolate vermicelli, and those cool silver balls that taste of nothing. The trick is to make sure the decorating goes on for a while, they, ok me too can get a bit keen sometimes and eat our way through a whole packet. This is not healthy, or good because then depending on e-numbers and whether I've included food colouring everyone can get a bit manic.
4. Colouring things, this is a lovely peaceful activity if you've a few decent colouring books hiding away, if not cbeebies website does some really cool, depending on your view of the characters colouring sheets you can download ad print straight out. If you're really crafty, and it looks alright, i.e. everyone has been banned for colouring in in black pen, then save these sheets to use as future wrapping paper.
5. Children's website's, if you haven't tried these you'll be amazed at how interesting they are, well sort of, but at least how much the children will enjoy singing along, playing games, doing some of the activities. The best is probably cbeebies with nickjnr coming a close second, and I'm afraid to admit disney being the current favourite in our house. In the disney playhouse pages you can make up your own swirly slide then watch the Mickey Mouse gang go down the slide you've designed. How cool is that? (Again, yes, god I do need to get out more, but honest its loads of fun).
6. Play board games, you knew this was coming didn't you? We've got a wide selection of games, and I have to say once the children get to an age when they can (almost) get the usually very simple rules they can provide minutes of fun. There's loads of new ones that we didn't have when we were little, but most of them will be familiar versions of Hungry Hippo and Operation, and even Junior Monopoly. Have to admit have not been playing educational games, like the shopping list one (don't even know what its called, bad ITV mummy me), and Scrabble, but obviously these should feature in your games collection if a proper one..
7. Play Hide and Seek, we have hours of entertainment with this, even though the children don't quite get the game (they tell me in advance where they are going to hide). Still if you're the one hiding you get to have a little lie down under the duvet whilst they hunt you. n.b. best not to 'hide' in the garden and have a sneaky fag, you're bound to get caught yellow fingered.
8. Children have fun bath, with bath crayons/bubble bath/random toys/teapot/whatever you can think of. Mummy then gets to have a nice quiet sit down in the bathroom with cup of tea and just murmurs encouraging laughter whenever requested to.
9. Play whatever they want to for a defined period of time, this can get weird but is brilliant for children's self confidence if they know they made up the game and their parent/sibling are joining in whole heartedly. Only thing I would say as a note of caution here is if feeling lazy and children request you find a bed for their babies do not do as I did and suggest they live in a darkened cupboard. Lovely little M still a bit freaked out by time I suggested this over 12 months ago.
10. The joy of telly, all parents in my view must have either a good stash of favourite DVD's, or cbeebies etc on tap. The only advice I can give is don't let TV hour go on over an hour or two 'cos then it sort of turns children bit feral, and its well worth having some favourite DVD's that you can bear to. These might be of the Shrek variety, or Mary Poppins, or even better for me, Wizard of Oz ilk. Make up a batch of popcorn and give in to the inevitable afternoon in front to the telly.