Dear Father Hood: got any tips for surviving rainy days?
Ah yes, rainy days. Enemy of mums and dads worldwide. If it’s hot and dry, we can take off a few layers and go outside. If it’s cold and dry, we can add on a few layers and go outside. But rainy days are a different story. They are wet. And wet leaves parents with two options: we can jump in the car, drive to the nearest children’s fun centre and run the gauntlet that is soft play, or we can try and find fun things to do around the house.
Last autumn and winter, my wife and I took the former option a lot – partly because our local soft play is free for under-1s, partly because we were trying to keep our son away from the TV, and partly because we were far too sleep deprived to come up with anything vaguely exciting or imaginative for a baby to do.
This autumn things are different. And by this I mean, my wife and I have introduced a quintet of kid-pleasing rainy day activities that will change the world as you currently know it. Okay, okay, so that’s probably an overstatement. But there’s no doubt that my son has enjoyed doing the following…
1. Home gym
Want to get a little bit fitter, while tiring your baby out? Then home gym is the rainy day option for you. Here’s how it works. Step one: lie on the floor. Step two: begin doing bodyweight exercises like planks, sit-ups and press-ups. Step three: attempt to cajole your kid into copying you. Step four: work out together until your child gets bored. Step five: when boredom arrives shake things up by turning your exercises into a fun game for the bubster – e.g. ‘leg raise See-Saw Margery Daw’ or ‘plank tunnels’.
2. Soft ball bounce rebound
Few things make my son happier than someone getting hit in the face by a ball. Instead of worrying about this, my wife and I have decided to create a rainy day game around it. Here’s how it works. Player A (always bubby) stands in the centre of the room. And Player B attempts to bounce a soft plastic ball off the designated ‘bounce wall’ and into Player A’s arms. Very, very occasionally, my son will catch the ball and celebrate vociferously. Occasionally, it’ll hit him in the head and he’ll laugh maniacally. And regularly, it’ll bounce past him and he’ll run after it. And, um, that’s it.
3. Cooking like mummy and daddy
Warning: giving your little one a pan and a wooden spoon and telling them to “cook like mummy and daddy” will hurt your ears (and possibly your knees if your little one loses interest and starts swinging the spoon around). But, crucially, it will also keep your pride and joy occupied for a good 10-20 minutes. Note for anyone who doesn’t have kids: 10-20 minutes is a lot more impressive and helpful than it sounds.
4. Bee, bee, get the bee
My mother-in-law deserves the credit for inventing this simple, but effective game that works on your stamina and your child’s language skills. To play it, you need a tea towel and a child who is willing to pretend they can see a bee on different household items. Ticked both those boxes? Great, then ask your kid where the bee is and get splatting. Pro tip: I add extra colour to the bee catching process with some questionable dance moves and out-of-tune singing. Ave Maria is my tune of choice, but feel free to choose whatever ditty you like.
5. Toy car races
I could bore on for ages about how much fun these are. But instead, I’ll let the below video speak for itself. Don’t think. Just watch and then do.