Rainy Day Swimmin’, Whether 12 or 35.

As we continue through March, you can sort of rest assured that there’s a few rainy days ahead.  ‘Cat-in-the-hat’ days.  So what’s an outdoors-oriented parent to do on a day like that?  Well, one could make a case for being outdoors in all weathers with your kids (as I will, later).  Or a person could tell you that is the time to read the internet, like you’re doing right this moment.

But I won’t say those things.  Instead, in the style of this post, I’m here to suggest indoor things you can do with your kids that will make the outdoors more enjoyable later.

I’m hoping these 5 will be so inspiring you’ll want to get to them immediately, so let’s keep this list short.

  1. Organization.  Kids love to organize.  Ask anyone.  Even yourself, if you think about it for a second.  So, get a big plastic storage box, and use that rainy day to get all your camping gear together in one place.  The tent stakes from the trunk of the car (well, maybe not those- if it’s raining), the camp stove, the tent, the sleeping bags, whatever.  All that stuff that’s scattered all over the house.  Why not take this time to save all the running around later?  Add some music and keep this fun!
  2. Consolidation.  This is a close relative of  #1, but not exactly the same thing.  In my house, this would mean getting all the unused bike parts into one place. One receptacle.  Or it could mean cleaning out those old peanut butter jars from the recycling and getting all the nuts and bolts in one jar so you don’t have to search around.  Also, so they don’t junk up your house.  Another thing that might fall under consolidation in my house would be gathering up my tools from the various drawers and back porches they’ve migrated to and returning them to my toolbox.
  3. Cleaning.  Now, of course I don’t mean actual practical housecleaning.  Oh my, oh my no!  I’m talking about obscure tasks like degreasing bike chains, re-lubing said chains, and things like that.  But that may be just a bit dirty and/or boring and/or unsafe for kids to take part in- so let’s think of other applications of this idea they might enjoy more.  The amazing effect that aluminum polish has on all metal surfaces comes to mind.  Or, you might mix salt and vinegar and stick some old dirty pennies in there- an amazing science trick AND you get clean pennies out of the deal.  Hours of fun.  Sweeping/reorganizing, and painting or decorating a backyard shed could also count as indoors and cleaning, but be infinitely more fun than doing the dishes.  Especially if you let the kids “sweep” with a leafblower!  (Careful not to do this too long- esp. if gas powered: fumes!)
  4. PlanningGet out the maps, it’s time to plan our next adventure!  This could literally take all day, be a time of learning geography, and what to do with a map, even if you never do in fact go on that walk north to the Arctic Circle.  Heck, plan your family vacations for the next decade.  You may never follow the plan, but you’ll likely remember the day you all came up with it.
  5. Sorry.  I can’t resist.  Even though I promised 5 things indoors to prepare you for the outdoors, what are you still doing inside?  What do we teach our kids doing this?  Yes, if it’s too cold, or icy, or whatever, use common sense.  But we do our kids a greater service (especially girls- I believe) taking them out and getting them wet, muddy, and slightly uncomfortable, than we would by keeping them comfortable and “safe”.  Is there a better feeling than a warm shower and dry clothes after a day like that?  I think not.  But first you have to experience the discomfort.  And, I daresay, enjoy it.  Do you remember how much you loved sledding as a kid?  Now realize how wet, cold, and tired you were- at the same time you were having a wonderful time.  Good memory, right?  So let your kids have the same.

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