They say April showers bring May flowers, but it’s more like spring showers bring muddy kids. I know around here we start with the is it rain or is it snow game in April and it continues until June so for us it’s not possible to just hunker down inside with some books and games until the rainy season passes. Because of this I have come up with these 3 essentials for fun in the rain.
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Essential # 1: Gear
How the keep kids dry in the rain
No one is happy if someone has wet feet. All it takes is one uncomfortable person to make everyone miserable and a fun time in the rain a disaster. But much like playing outside in the winter if everyone is warm, and dry, time out in the rain can be a fun and stimulating experience.
Here are a couple of our essential clothing items for the rain:
As I said above cold and wet toes make for a miserable day for everyone so investing in a good pair of waterproof boots for all is important. When kids are younger and splashing in puddles are a give in this is almost a no brainer. But as children get older and are less inclined to jump in every puddle they see we are less tempted to buy traditional rain boots. Well I am here to tell you STICK WITH THE TALL RAIN BOOTS.
Unlike slip on rain shoes, traditional rubber boots will protect your child’s feet and legs from the puddle and mud splashes. A big part of encouraging children to play outside in the rain is to let them be curious and spontaneous and with this style of boot they will have the freedom to explore while staying dry.
One Piece Rain Suit
This may or may not go over big with your older children but it is especially important when they are still in that impulsive, get right down in the muck stage of life. I know more times than I would like to admit, I have looked out my back window to find my five year old laying face down in the garden in pouring rain with a magnifying glass looking for whatever creepy crawly he has dreamed up that may be living just below the surface. Having a one piece suit means that there are no gaps between the jacket and the pants to allow water and mud inside, keeping him dry no matter where his imagination takes him.
Our favourite of these are the Tuffo Muddy Buddy. We are now on our 5th summer with our first suit that has been passed from Marcus all the way to Margaret and it still looks like new. They are worth every penny, and I am so sad that Marcus is almost grown out of his last one.
Tuque or Warm Hat
I have found that until it gets quite warm in the summer, rainy days can have quit a chill that a hood alone won’t beat. I have found that a light fall tuque or hat is enough to keep their ears warm under their hoods without making them too warm.
Essential # 2: An Open Mind
The Benefits of Playing in the Rain
Whether it be the mud that they seem to get everywhere or the voices we hear in our heads telling us that playing the the rain is bad for you, a lot of the struggles with getting outside in the rain is in our heads. I know this was a big struggle for me when I began our 1000 Hours Outside Challenge in September 2020. When it all started I spent a lot our outside time directing play, making sure everyone stayed clean and worrying about other people’s opinions. None of this is helpful when playing in the rain.
Now over 8 months into the challenge along with the help of some amazing books, the only thing I worry about is that everyone is safe. For me the big mind shift happened when I read Barefoot and Balanced.
A Relaxing Sensory Experience
In the book the author, Angela Hanscom, discusses how just the sound of nature stimulates the senses in away that it calms and awakens the brain allow it to hear and see more. The sound of rain hitting the leaves and dripping down to the forest floor is like a massage for your brain. It is at the perfect volume and consistent, predictable. This is why they play forest and rain sounds when you are at the spa.
Balance and Reflexes
Beyond the free “spa” experience, playing in the rain has so many other health, developmental and psychological benefits. Climbing running and jumping on the slippery ground forces children to use fine stabilization muscles that are not needed when the ground is dry.
This type of play on unstable surfaces stimulates of our less commonly known senses like the vestibular. Working this sense allows us to react quickly to regain our balance when we slip, it also helps our brain know that we are upright. Stimulating your vestibular senses is essential in helping us navigate the world around us and honestly the best place to give it a work out is climbing rocks, trees and crossing the streams of the forest floor.
Promotes and Active Lifestyle
Encouraging children (and yourself) to get outside in the rain can also promote a healthy lifestyle of moving outside daily. We live in a time, especially in North America, where we have two kids of days. Those that we spend outside and those days we stay inside. If it’s warm and sunny it’s easy to get out, but when the wind blows a little too hard, or the rain and snow is falling, we tend to want to stay inside.
If you had asked me a year ago if I would be walking in the forest during a decent rain my answer would be “am I lost of something?”. But after a year of taking daily walks with the kids, rain or shine, as we progress into the winter months I don’t even notice the cold the way I used to and the days that it is absolutely too cold or wet to walk (because those days do exist) we really notice it in our moods and are excited to get out the next chance we get.
Heading outside on the days that are the least uncomfortable like a light summer rain, will start to allow you to build up confidence and become more comfortable in these less perfect weather days. Start small with no expectations attached and soon you will be playing in the rain on a regular basis.
Books to encourage you to play in all weather:
Essential # 3: Warm Bellies
Lunches, Snacks and Drinks to warm up
Much like a morning of playing on the toboggan hill, a walk in the rain can bring out those rosy cheeks that only a warm drink or hot lunch can help. Here are some of my favourite lunches for those days we need a little warming up.
- Tomato soup (recipe coming soon) and sandwiches
- Slow cooker Mac and Cheese (recipe coming soon)
- Panini or grilled cheese
- Chilli (recipe coming soon)
- Hot dip with crackers and veggies
- Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate (recipe coming soon)
- Hot water with lemon
Coming home to a something warm can make the whole experience worth it sometimes. There will be those days someone loses a boot in the mud, or rain drips down the inside of their jacket, or getting outside was just not their thing today. Knowing that when you get home there is a meal ready to warm everyone up can really motivate you to stay on the positive side of things.
This is where a slow cooker or instant pot can come in handy. Before leaving set up your lunch or hot drink, by the time you get back you will be able to relax with an almost effortless lunch, refill your energy bank and settle in with a good book or movie.
Finishing your rainy day adventure with something special that warms the body and soul, can really turn a regular day into a spectacular one. I know that for my littles as soon as we are turning to head back they get excited asking for their hot chocolate. And I hope that when they are parents they find themselves walking in the rain and warming up with hot chocolate with the little people they love as well.