Rainy Days Become a Chance for Mom to Relax the Rules

By , Hillary Copsey, Parenting Writer
In Florida, so afternoon thunderstorms are a daily part of summer.
Some days, we need this break from all the running around in the heat. My boys stay busy with baseball and the sandbox, bikes and jump ropes. But other days, days when the clouds roll in early or we've been cooped up in a car running errands all morning, my boys need to burn off energy, not nap or sit in front of the television.
So, I let go. I let go of my need to have the house tidy. I loosen up some of the house rules, the ones about not shouting or running. And I let my boys – and myself – get a little bit crazy.
It usually starts innocently enough. I tell the boys to play fetch with the dog, but then that devolves into a game of chase through the kitchen. I could tell them no, but they're running so hard they gasp through their giggles. Everyone's happy and they're not hurting anything, just running laps around our dining room table, so it goes on until the dog and the boys collapse in a pile in the living room.
Maybe, once they catch their breath, we play a quick game of Simon Says. We take turns being Simon, and when it's my turn, I make them do jumping jacks and frog leaps. My little one is just 2, so his attention wanders, taking him into the playroom where he finds our musical instruments. We end up marching around our house.
When I bow out of the parade to handle another load of laundry, they become super heroes. They fight imaginary bad guys, capes streaming out behind them as they run into their hideout. Sometimes this is just their playroom. Other times, when I'm feeling like super mommy, it's a fort they've built of blankets and chairs.
If they can't manage to find something to entertain themselves, I enlist them in a cleaning brigade. We wipe down our kitchen cabinets and dust furniture. They really like dusting the bookshelves because it means they get to climb on the chairs, something that normally is not allowed.
On particularly long afternoons, I let them get out my big exercise ball. They bounce it into the living room and bumper-car themselves off it. Other days, I use painter's tape to mark a hopscotch court on my living room rug. When the boys were babies, I laid them here for tummy time to strengthen their little muscles. Now they hop and leap across it to do the same.
That rug also is the scene of our periodic dance parties. I turn the music up loud and we spin in circles until we collapse. The boys think a fallen momma is a perfect jungle gym. They climb up my legs and I lift them up to "fly." My legs will be sore the next day (hello, strength training!), but their dimply grins are worth it – and anyway, it's summer shorts season. (Don't forget to track your workouts with the kids on your Fitness Tracker!)
And at the end of all of this, I make the boys pick everything up. (I have to keep a few rules, lest we stray into anarchy.) Worn out from their indoor romping, the boys flop on me for bedtime stories.
Of course, this is an idealized version of a rainy afternoon. In reality, there's more shouting than I would like and occasional whines of "I'm bored" or "I don't wanna." Our house is tiny –1,500 square feet, including the garage – so sometimes it feels as if the boys are going to explode out of the walls. But with a little bit of patience (OK, maybe a lot) and some creativity you can keep little bodies busy and moving inside.
How do you keep your kids occupied on rainy summer afternoons?

Hillary Copsey is a newspaper features editor in Florida with experience writing about everything from population trends to health-care issues. As the mother of two boys, she also is versed in searching for daycares, cooking healthy dinners on the fly and playing with trucks. She co-writes the blog Not raising brats. She writes about parenting for dailySpark and BabyFit.com.

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Love it! Brings back happy, happy memories of when my boys were small. Report
I remember those days. my children are grown now. When I have a need to play like a kid again I go get my nephew. Report
Once I was asked to write a talk on service. I ended up giving a summary of what the kids and I had done this week and that we had been so busy, I didn't have time to write a talk. Just kidding. The first day, we had cleaned house. The next day, we baked cookies. Another day we delivered them. Then we had gone on a bike ride and visited a farm with nuts that we picked. They had some horses and the kids got a ride. The next day we went to a music makers group and sang and danced and read stories with other kids. Then the next day, we participated in a church activity. Thus in serving, we had done it as a family team. Boy did we have some fun times! Report
I do not have any children at home and no grand children. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Day and Week. This is the WAY TO GO to a new life style along with losing weight and getting down within normal range or limits. Report
Wow!! I never did anything that difficult,, two words:Grandparents house!!

Also, I just let my DD put her swimsuit on and go outside and play in the rain,, she loved it, swam in her pool, collected water from the downspouts, played tea party with it,, dumped it back in the grass, handed her shampoo and a bar of soap and she "showered" with her suit on! I also would hand her some shampoo for the dog and they both ran around with suds flying, then rinsed off, at the end,, laughing, she dried him off.. they both loved it!! We collected rainwater for future rinse water for shampooing.. It makes your hair VERY SOFT! Report
Way to go for keeping the TV off! Report
How can you not feel happy and energized with young children?! Report
Luckily it wasn't thunderstorms, just plain rain, so I just let my little one out to explore the wonders of wet. She learned about disposable bowls that float and how many rocks it takes to sink it in the puddle. She splashed until she made puddles disappear. She watched drips make drops and how drops dripped from the leaves of trees. ... and so much more. Report
I don't have any kids of my own yet but when I do I fully intend on dressing everyone in old clothes(myself included) and go play in the rain. as long as theres no thunder, of course. and then go back inside and run a bath with warm water to clean up :) Report
Takes me back. My kids and I used to pop in musical videos and run and jump and dance and sing to our hearts content! Report
This blog makes me miss those days childhood days so much! I had so much fun with my children when they were little.
I guess I'll just have to wait for grandchildren, to play superheros and hopscotch again.
Cherish every second! It might seem like they'll never grow up & behave. But really, it goes by in the blink of an eye. Report
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