By Jane Marsh
You want to take your bundle of joy outside, but the weather isn’t speaking your language. There are ways to keep any child safe and entertained, whether it’s raining or blasting sun rays so hard you can’t see. There are still ways to allow your child to interact with nature totally indoors without screens.
These tips will help any parent or guardian organise a fun-filled, nourishing day, even if Mother Nature tries her hardest to stop you.
1. Transform Their Favourite Outdoor Activity
If your child likes to flop around in the mud or collect leaves, you can still simulate that wonder inside. Safely fill the bath with the necessary materials to keep messes contained yet easy to clean. Crafty individuals can cut up paper leaves or craft origami bugs so children can explore the yard – or the living room – without losing opportunities to be imaginative.
Who doesn’t love a good pillow or blanket fort? Dining tables and large living room furniture sets make perfect environments for setting up an outdoor fantasy – with air conditioning. Play animal and nature sounds on the TV to make it a sensory experience.
Depending on the conditions outside, hopping in some puddles or finding critters that only come out in the rain might be unsafe. If your kid is temperamental because they want to explore and splash around, do as much as you can to educate them on the environmental changes during storms while playfully roleplaying those experiences.
For example, a parent could play the role of thunder and lightning and strike their children down with a tickle fight, showing children the consequences of tempting the weather.
Even though your toddler is young, the most important thing to remember is there is always a right time to teach them anything. They are sponges and understand more than you give them credit for. They may not understand what makes hail or why it’s essential to regulate a house during storms, but there is always some nugget of knowledge they can grasp about some of these concepts. Could you take advantage of every one of them?
Do you have a countertop herb garden or a house plant? Walk your child around your indoor garden to continue exposing them to greenery despite the situation. You might even enlist them to help you plant a few more things to eventually see the literal fruits of their labours during bad weather days.
Kids might not be the best cleaners since they’re naturally predisposed to being mess-makers. It doesn’t make their enthusiasm for wanting to help any less real. Your home might need extra help during bad weather, whether putting a bucket under a leaky roof or securing windows during high winds.
A gung-ho child won’t prevent mould like a sump pump will, but they can follow parents around to see how they plug in dehumidifiers or seal doors to keep families safe – yet another learning opportunity to teach the side effects of bad weather.
Crayons, felt and blocks are only a few art materials that can make children’s minds explode when they’re not allowed outside. Get creative by inspiring them as well. For example, you could print pictures of local species and put them all over the house, telling them to draw or act out everything they find.
Something is calming about just sitting and watching nature work. Sit with your toddler and experience those moments together, taking time to notice the little things and how each item appeals to the senses. It will help the toddler appreciate slow moments and deepen their natural awareness.
Handling your toddler during a bad weather day now is how they will eventually cope with them as they grow. So, get them in the habit now of gravitating toward a book for fun. They are great escapism, especially if the toddler is scared about the weather outside.
What if going outside and playing on the swing set is one of your kid’s primary sources of movement? They shouldn’t lose out on that excellent cardio just because outside isn’t agreeing with you. Crank up the jams and get silly with your toddler. Inspire them to get their blood pumping even if the sun isn’t shining.
Even during the scariest thunderstorm, there are plenty of ways to decompress and keep your imagination alive with a toddler. They are more than ready to find ways to entertain themselves, so embrace the mundane and the weird to interact with nature and healthy habits despite the climate.
Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.