April showers may bring May flowers, but while the rain is coming down and you have energized kids stuck inside, it can be hard to see the beauty. Rainy spring days can test even the most patient parent’s willpower, but resist the urge to stick your kids in front of the TV.
Turn a stormy day into one filled with memories that will last until the sun comes out again.
The sun will come out tomorrow
It might be raining today, but Chicago weather can change at any time. So get your kids ready to go out and play when the rain clouds part.
Gather some terra cotta pots of varying sizes, put down some newspaper and pull out the paint. Talk about what you’ll plant when the sun comes out and how your favorite plants will need water, sun and soil to grow big and tall. Let imaginations run wild with the decorating, and by the time the paint is dry, maybe it will be dry outside, too.
If you have a garage—or a lot of plastic garbage bags—you can even tie-dye matching T-shirts to wear to a fun spring activity on a sunnier day. Rubber band the shirts together to make interesting patterns and keep the different colored dye in different buckets so you can carefully dip the shirt in them rather than a messier method that might get your house more colorful than clean.
Buy pairs of flip-flops from the dollar store to fit every member of your family and start decorating some fancy footwear for brighter spring days. Use ribbons, water balloons, colorful pieces of a bandana, beads or really anything else.
When the sun finally comes out, you can spend as much time outside enjoying it as possible because you’ll have fun outfits to wear and pots ready to be planted.
Bring the outdoors inside
A lot of outdoor activities can happen inside with a positive attitude and minimal mess. When the kids wake up and see their day being ruined by falling rain, it’s easy to see their smiles fall as well. Start the day sunny on the inside and it will transfer to your kids.
Start the day at your local YMCA or gym by diving into the pool. It’s exercise, it’s fun and they’ll forget that they aren’t outside in the sun.
Use a plastic kiddie pool filled with sand to make it a day at the beach. Pull out the summer sand toys and see who can build the best sand castle while staying dry from the rain. Bring out the chalk to play hopscotch or draw other games on the garage floor.
After dinner make an outdoorsy dessert: stove top s’mores filled with gooey marshmallows and melted chocolate. Settle in for a night of indoor camping with a tent, or just a fort made of sheets and pillows. Shut off the lights and pull out the flashlights. Thunder and lightning will just make the night seem more like an adventure.
Don’t let the rain bring down your parade
Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. As long as there isn’t dangerous lightning or wind, a little rain won’t melt you or your kids. When it’s raining at school, the kids stay inside for recess, so getting to play in the rain can be an adventure for them and make you feel young again.
Use stickers of letters and other designs to decorate a personalized umbrella for each kid. Bundle up with the right rain boots and coats and then head out into the downpour. It can even be a learning experience: Go on a rainy day scavenger hunt to find where animals hide when it rains or how rain makes leaves and plants look different. Take pictures at your favorite spots in the rain and then go back on a sunny day to get a matching picture. Jump in a few puddles on the way home and then warm up with a toasty bath and hot cocoa when you get there.
See the sights
Chicago has so much to offer that’s both fun and educational. Use a rainy day to take advantage of the city’s best offerings for the whole family.
Plan a trip to the Shedd Aquarium to see what animals thrive in wet climates under the sea. Visit the Adler Planetarium to point out stars and constellations that may be hiding behind the clouds for days on end. The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry and other major Chicago museums have discounted children’s tickets and offer several free admission days each month.