A houseful of kids stuck indoors is a combination that could test the patience of a saint. But don’t despair, we’re here to help with some easy, fun and productive ways to keep kids of all ages occupied, entertained and off their devices.
Get the kids in the kitchen and let them whip up some holiday goodies to share. After all, cooking isn’t just fun, it’s a life skill. What better opportunity is there than a rainy day to let them practise? Baking is especially good for honing kids’ cooking skills, because as any experienced cook will agree, there’s little leeway if they forget an ingredient or mess up their measurements.
Start beginners off with some easy classics like ANZAC biscuits or choc-chip cookies, cupcakes or muffins. More experienced junior cooks could take on a quiche or tart with pastry made from scratch, and the sky’s the limit for the more ambitious chefs in the making. For more inspiration, Australian parenting site Kidspot has a great recipe collection for kids of all ages.
Set up camp in the living room
Did you ever build a pillow and blanket cubby in your living room? Let the kids use their imagination to take over the room and make their fort ‘Kid HQ’ for the day. If they’re really keen, they can sleep in there and pretend they’re camping. Lay out cushions for them to make stepping-stones with, and play ‘the floor is lava’.
Let the games begin!
While the lure of screens has never been stronger, some classic board game fun makes a great distraction. Board games encourage real-life interaction, test your strategic skills and give siblings an outlet for some good-natured competition. There are the timeless classics like Scrabble, Monopoly and Rummikub, and Chess has made a big comeback this year. Or try one of the new games that gets the whole family involved, such as Help! The Game.
If board games aren’t your thing, try card games. With one pack of cards, you have a huge array of games at your fingertips, from the super simple Snap, to Go Fish, 500 and even poker (playing for matches instead of money). If you’re a little rusty on your card game rules, you can brush up on them here.
Indoor treasure hunt
An indoor treasure hunt can keep younger kids busy for hours. The idea of a treasure hunt is for kids to find a clue, figure out its meaning and then use it to find the next one, then the next until ultimately, the final clue directs players to the hidden treasure.
Home website The Spruce has a great how-to for treasure hunt beginners (and frazzled parents), including a collection of ready-made rhyming clues you can print out and plant around the place including this one for a lamp: “Turn me on, and I'll give you a light. I'm used in the daytime but mostly at night.” And this one for a bookshelf: “A story, they say, can take you away, but a book still needs a place to stay.”
If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a movie marathon. Whatever your kids’ ages, it’s the perfect afternoon activity to give everyone some peace and quiet and, as long as everyone can agree on what to watch, it’s something they can do together. Just pop some popcorn, snuggle up on the couch and press play.