South Bay Adventures for Tiny Explorers in Rain!
I passionately hate winter rains! I grew up in a desert and have never really come to accept winter rains as part of daily life.
So when we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area I was so excited at the prospect of drought in California(I know, it's the saddest thing, but no rain means lots of sunshine!).
But since we have moved, the weather God decided to finally answer prayers of California people and it has been raining ever since!
California is officially out of drought and we have spent countless winters cursing the lack of sunshine in this sunshine state!
Over the years though, we have made our truce with rain and figured out a few things we can do to keep the “rainy” blues away.
Here’s our bucket list for when the rain hits the west coast:
Ever since covid, we have reduced our exposure to indoor activities, especially the indoor playgrounds which feels like petri dishes of seasonal viruses.
I am now amazed at how much time we spent at indoor Jungle Safaris and the playgrounds at the mall and how we survived all those virus attacks.
Anyways, apart from the indoor playgrounds, here are our favorite rainy day activities for kids:
Visit a local book shop or library
You will be surprised to see how empty your local bookshops or the libraries are on a rainy afternoon. On most days, we have the place to ourselves!
I am usually worried about my toddler talking too loud in the library, but these days, there is no one around so the little guy enjoys playing with the blocks or reading his books out loud. We of course make sure he is not shouting and is still using his indoor voices, but you get the point!
And the best part? The kids keep themselves busy and we can enjoy a quiet hour of reading for ourselves! Couldn’t have asked for more!!
Art or science museums
While we love the Children’s Discovery museum, guess where all the parents are headed on a rainy weekend afternoon? Yes, to the Children’s Discovery Museum!
So to avoid all the crowds, we head to the Art or Science museum in San Jose. These museums are just as fun and give you an opportunity to share your love for art and science with your little ones.
Both my kids really enjoy the museum days and can never have enough!
We usually head to the museum cafe after our museum tour and they love to get a “grown-up” treat!
Art class at the mall
This is definitely a secret for all your peaceful shopping retreats on a rainy afternoon.
We first discovered this Art class in Westfield Valley Fair mall about 6 years ago. We left our older one to color and paint for an hour while we enjoyed a kid-free shopping spree.
She was so proud of her little painting and told us how much she loved this painting class. Since then we have used that art class for our kids everytime we head to the mall.
Both them and us get to enjoy an afternoon doing things we love.
And if you are up for it, they offer parent-child painting classes too, this might be the bonding exercise that you both enjoy equally.
Fort building at home: Our favorite Rainy Day Activity for Kids
Well, I have to start this with a disclaimer.
If you absolutely love your cushions and pillows and blankets and can’t have them strewn on the floor, this activity is not for you!
I have resigned to the idea that I have expensive cushions and sofas when my kids are older and for now I have given them permission to use a few blankets, throws and pillows as they please when they make their forts or ships or tents on the living room floor.
The building and the pretend play keeps them engaged for a few hours and this peace of mind is so much greater to me than those pillows ever will be!
I even oblige and serve them their snacks and drinks in their forts so they can stay there longer.
Family Cooking nights
Dinner time is my favorite time of the day. We all gather around the table and enjoy a simple home cooked meal and each other’s company.
So obviously the home cooked meal requires preparation and my little ones love to get involved!
I usually give them tasks like helping me cut the salad or mincing of garlic or buttering of bread. Although my little one is showing more interest in cooking and has been rolling dough balls and even rolling some flatbreads for us.
I love the look of pride in their little eyes when their buttered bread is ready or when their tiny flat bread gets cooked.
And the best part? They almost always eat what they cook without any complaint. It couldn’t get any better! Isn’t it?
This is more for me than for the kids.
Baking is like therapy for me. And whenever I feel circumstances driving me against the wall, I bake to calm myself down.
And the best part?
The kids enjoy baking with me too!
Sometimes we get overboard and bake up a storm and other times we just knead the flour into real flaky scones, rich with chocolate chips.
Whether you follow recipes and bake something from scratch or whether you get a real delicious banana bread mix from Trader Joes, get those baking pans out and bake an afternoon snack. Yet to meet a kid who will not devour a self-made banana bread.
We spend a lot of time on the floor.
I give them various activities like painting or drawing or legos or puzzles and let them have it as they like.
They spend hours after hours creating structures from their legos or painting their wooden blocks.
Yes of course it gets messy. But I feel safer leaving them on the floor by themselves than on the table. And knowing my kids, I am sure they will make the same amount of mess on the table too!
You can join them for a few minutes here and there. Kids get so excited when parents join them on some activities. This will only keep them more engaged.
Embrace the Rain
Well, I say this with a disclaimer. You know your family the best and you are the best judge of the weather outside your house. So take this next section with a grain of salt.
We do venture out in light rain or just after the rain.
With the right gear and clothing, an outside activity in the rain can be super fun!
Sometimes after the rain has stopped and the sky has cleared a little bit, we head on to this hiking trail near our house.
Everything is muddy but that’s what kids like the most.
They come back home very messy from all the mud but also very happy after spending an afternoon in nature.
Visit local parks
This one is again for my selfish reasons.
The parks right after the rain are beautiful and less crowded.
I follow the kids around with my camera in hand and they get to hunt for earthworms, throw stones in the puddles and make mud cakes.
I get gorgeous pictures and they get to play in the park with their friends. Win win for everyone!
Walk around the neighborhood
Sometimes when the kids have been stuffed inside for the entire day, I dress them up in raincoats and boots and let them venture out for a walk around the block.
They get to spend all the stored up energy and jump in all the puddles they can find.
We sometimes make paper boats and follow them around the street.
Even a 15 minutes of outdoor activity can lift up everyone's moods!
However you choose to spend the rainy afternoon with your little ones, remember, a rainy day is just an opportunity for a different kind of adventure. So whether you grab your umbrellas to head out or blankets to build a fort, embrace this crazy season and have fun!
Happy Rainy Day!