This post is an article originally published in What's On Tablelands magazine in 2021. It refers to places on the Atherton Tablelands, but it also has many general ideas for what do to when the rain doesn't stop. Because we've had over 3 metres of rain this year, and it hasn't stopped yet, I decided to publish this for families like ours who have had many more wet weeks than dry ones!
Go outside into the rain and mud. Have a plan to clean the kids up (or strip them off) and transfer them to the bath/shower, and then have a towel and warm clothes waiting! Depends where you are, the temperature, and how old the kids are, a run in the rain can be done in undies or togs, or wearing a raincoat and gumboots. Whatever they wear, make sure it’s okay for them to get wet & muddy. This approach is messy, but worth it!
Wet weather outings – wear appropriate clothes and shoes and head outdoors to experience nature. There are raging rivers & waterfalls, fascinating fungi, tadpoles, frogs, bugs, and birds that you may not experience at other times. The monsoon is soggy, but short, safe trips into nature will help the kids burn off energy and observe our local environment in a different season.
Explore your local library – they have games and puzzles, books, DVDs, and activities for kids.
Enjoy a movie at the Majestic in Malanda. Current films are advertised inside What's On magazine and session times are available online or by contacting the theatre by phone.
Visit friends and play indoors together.
Go to the numerous art galleries, visitor information centres and museums across the Tablelands.
Pop out for a snack or lunch at a new café, some have activities and menus for little ones too.
Find a covered playground, there are several across the tablelands with a roof.
Go to an op shop and buy a new book, game or toy for a couple of dollars or less – recycle while supporting local charities.
Join a playgroup for 0-5 year olds – most of them are inside local halls and other buildings, and provide company and activities for a couple of hours each week.
Duck out between rain showers! It does stop, even if not for a whole day. When you hear the birds announcing that the rain has stopped, head out for a walk or play outdoors before more rain falls.
Head west, or north, or anywhere it’s not rainy! Drier areas in FNQ offer a reprieve from the constant rain a lot of us live in for many months of the year. There may be dry places to escape to within an hour of home.
Plan a family movie day – create a cosy space, pop some popcorn and enjoy a movie together.
Play some family games – learn a new game or play a favourite and include all ages. Puzzles are fun too! Op shops usually offer a selection of games and puzzles. Donate them back when the kids have outgrown them. Swapping puzzles and games with family and friends offers some variety.
Make a blanket fort or other indoor cubby. Take a picnic in there, and some teddies, or a quiet activity. Or perhaps build an obstacle course if you have space indoors or undercover.
Create an indoor scavenger hunt. Make it age appropriate by writing a list or drawing pictures of things the kids can look for around the house. Missing socks or puzzle pieces? Add them to the challenge!
Play Hide and Seek, or have a dance party, and play Freeze!
Enjoy some art & craft activities – try something different like new art supplies, a craft kit, using big rolls of paper and different pens or crayons. Try online art classes, origami, printable colour-in pages, collages or scrapbooking.
Experience online learning – watch science experiments, nature documentaries, or educational tv. There is a lot available online via YouTube, ABC Kids and other channels.
Play with your pets – they’re likely to be feeling a bit of cabin fever too!
Read aloud to each other, or enjoy an audiobook.
Join the local toy library and rotate toys.
Make some playdough or slime, or buy some air-drying clay. All ages can enjoy the science, tactile sensation, and creativity these mediums provide. Use kitchen implements as tools.
Look through old photo albums or watch old family movies if you have any – take some time to share your family’s stories.
If you can get some empty boxes together, and a roll of masking tape – help the kids to build a creation, cut doors and windows, or car ramps and roads for them with a craft knife. Let them collage onto and paint their creations if your space allows for a bit of mess!
Got bigger kids? Teach them to sew! If you don’t know how, maybe someone you know can show them? This is a skill few people have these days. If not sewing, perhaps crochet, knitting, cross-stitch, macrame or weaving?
Build together with Lego if you have some. A collaborative construction which you can photograph before you dismantle it.
Sing, play music, put on a talent show, act out a story, or play with puppets… be performers and audience for each other. Invite your family, friends or neighbours if you like! Take videos to watch together when they’re bigger, or to send to family afar.
Attend a virtual concert or tour. Since covid there many free and paid concerts to see music, theatre and dance performances online, as well as tours of amazing places around the world.
Have a tea party or picnic in the living room! Listen to an audiobook or some calm music while you sit together.
Make a pizza party – bake or buy some small bases and chop up a variety of toppings. Everyone can make their own pizzas! You can also freeze these for later, so make extra while the kitchen’s a mess!
Do some baking – try an old family recipe, a healthy option, or a packet mix, it doesn’t matter - just make some time and space in the kitchen and create something yummy together.
Enjoy a themed meal – cook cuisine from another place (or even get take-away). You may be able to compliment the food with a film or music, share some facts, learn some words if that place has a different language, read a story, or dress up.
Write a letter, make a card, or draw a picture and send it in the mail to family or friends near or far! Or video chat with loved ones!
Start some seeds – with soil or potting mix in small trays or pots, start off some seedlings to plant out into your garden. You can watch them germinate and grow up close, and not forget to water them when they’re indoors or right outside your home.
Learn to juggle or hula hoop if you’ve got enough undercover space.
Try yoga and meditation. There are lots of online videos and apps, as well as books. Or just try a couple of basic stretches together if you already know them.
Do an online or DVD dance or fitness class together. Make sure there’s lots of open space and don’t forget to laugh!
Clean out your toys, clothes, books and games. Give away things you no longer need to family, friends or the op shop. Rearrange the things you keep so that they get the most use.
Use these ideas to enjoy making rainy day memories together and beat the “I’m bored!” mantra of the monsoon season with kids. Have fun!