So you’re finally getting the hang of this parenting thing. You’ve built up a nice rhythm and routine. You know when you wake up, you’re going to go to a playground or to the zoo. Then boom. The morning comes around and your plans are canceled due to “inclement weather.” Now what?
You know if you do nothing, your toddler will just end up destroying the house, which is one of the main reasons why you need to keep them entertained outside. But at the same time, you feel like you’re running out of ideas of different things you can do. Well don’t worry. On days when you look outside and see drops of water tapping the ground, a gray sky, and gloominess, there are still some fun things you can do with your littles.
Here’s a list of fun and inexpensive activities you can do on rainy days to keep your little ones entertained on a budget:
Things to do at home:
- Invite some friends over for an indoor play date. If you have friends (or family) who are close in age, call them over and ask them to bring a couple of toys to share. Not only will this help relieve the parents of the rainy day blues, but it’ll also give your little ones a friend to help keep them entertained.
- Build a fort. Grab chairs and a blanket to build a fort. Add pillows to make it comfy and pick out a few stuffed animals to play pretend with for entertainment.
- Play dress up. Try on costumes, each other’s clothes, or make a cape out of a towel and pretend to be comic book characters. Bonus points if you can spice things up with costume jewelry, a crown, or a bit of face painting.
- Do a sensory activity. If you haven’t done so already, make a sensory bin with rice, an empty container, and scooping utensils. This should keep them entertained for 30 minutes to an hour. You can also look up a recipe for homemade slime (or use store-bought if you have any within reach).
- Bake a cake together and decorate it. Measure out the ingredients and let your little one pour them in and stir. For this activity, you’ll want to grab your aprons and expect things to get messy. Then when you’re done (or before you finish), you have a nice treat to sample.
- Rain jackets and play outside. If you’ve got rain gear, and if the weather isn’t too bad, why not splash around outside and play or dance in the rain?
- Do arts and crafts. The sky is the limit when it comes to art. If you’ve got coloring books, supervise your little ones as they color. If you’ve got finger paint, you can host a toddler paint and sippy cup party or paint a craft relevant to an upcoming holiday. Another easy craft is to fill balloons (or Easter eggs) with different things to make shakers like a little bit of water, a couple of peanuts, or raisins, you name it.
Things to do nearby:
- Take a trip to the library to read books (or check some out). If your kid loves story time, a change of scenery might be just enough to help the both of you feel like you’ve done a fun activity for the day. Go to the library and let your kid pick out a couple of books, then sit down to read through your picks together.
- Take them to an indoor bounce house. If you don’t mind making a short drive over to Clinton, consider visiting Backyard Bouncers. It’s an indoor bounce house perfect for kids of all ages. For $10 per kid (accompanying adults are free), your little one can bounce around safely for an hour. They open at 12 on weekdays and 9am on weekends. Only 15 kids are allowed to jump at a time, so you’ll want to go to their website to make a reservation online.
- Take them to a trampoline park. Did you know about toddler hour at Defy Knoxville? On weekdays from 9am-10am, your little ones can jump around a bit with others around their same age. You can grab Defy tickets for cheap on Groupon. You’ll get an email with your ticket, which you can just show them at the register. Urban Air is also a nice trampoline and adventure park to burn some energy, especially if your kid is at the stage where they are now walking.
- Take them to an arcade. You’d be surprised how much fun little ones have at arcades even at their age. Chuck E Cheese is always a good age-appropriate place to go for games. And you’d be surprised, there are also arcade games, food, and entertainment for them (and you) at Token Game Tavern and Main Event — both good and fun family-friendly spots nearby.
- Eat at a “kids eat free” restaurant. Search the web and you’ll find several restaurants in your area where kids can eat free or for $1. Here are a few to give you some ideas:
- O’Charley’s Restaurant & Bar – Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.
- Cici’s Pizza – It’s not exactly “kids eat free,” but it’s an all you can eat for a cheap price.
- Perkins – Kids eat free all day with the purchase of an adult entrée Monday-Friday.
- Shoney’s – Kids 4 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult entrée.
- Moe’s Southwest Grill – $0.99 kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult entrée.
- Visit a children’s museum. If you’ve never been to The Muse, this children’s science museum should really be at the top of your list. For just $10 admission (or free for members), get access to hands-on exhibits, activities, and play spaces designed for kids of all ages, including sensory activities, play kitchen, arts and crafts, jungle gym, and more. Or if you’re feeling up to it, you can also make a quick drive over to Oak Ridge Children’s Museum. It’s a larger museum for kids that also has a kid-sized dollhouse exhibit and Toddlers’ Playtime in the Preschool Room on Tuesdays from 10am–noon.
- Go to a place with open play. Smart Toys and Books is a toy store with an open play area that has a jungle gym and slides that little ones can play on for $5 per kid for two hours. You’ll want to call ahead to reserve a spot because it fills quickly, especially on rainy days. Athleticademy is a play center and sporty boutique open 7 days a week. Drop-ins are welcome. They have family play time for $5 as well as mommy and me arts and crafts classes which can be booked in advance if you sign up online. You can also bring your little one to the open gym at Tatarus. It’s $7 for kids, $10 for adults Monday – Friday from 9am-4pm.
As you can see, rainy days don’t have to get you down. There’s still a lot you can do that’s fun and budget-friendly at home or nearby to help keep your little ones entertained (and you stress-free). Hopefully this list gives you some new ideas to try, some family-fun favorites, or even spark your imagination for other ideas you can do to create more moments worth remembering now and for years to come.
Also check out our Free and Inexpensive Indoor Activities for Kids!