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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020

Parents Panel: What's your go-to rainy day activity?

With so much extreme weather lately, we asked our panel how they’ve been keeping the kids occupied.


AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

This week, we asked our panel to share the parenting worries they’ve learned to relax about, and the former must-haves or must-dos they now realise don’t matter all that much.

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

I keep a secret stash of rainy day toys: I am a firm believer that there’s no bad weather, just bad clothes. We try to go outside every day, even if it’s just for half an hour. But if it’s lashing all day long, I have a secret stash of toys that are not used on a daily basis – like kinetic sand, a new set of puzzles, a chalkboard – and they usually do the trick.

- Marta Lisiecka

Spontaneous playdates: If we are housebound we’ll build tents and play camping, or organise playdates with friends living nearby. And who can resist a bit of baking?

- Denise Cahill

The swimming pool is always a winner: Clíodhna is almost one and she loves the water. If the weather’s bad I’ll head for the pool with her, and without fail she’ll go for a long nap afterwards too. Win-win.

- Ríona Flood

shutterstock_366385265 Source: Shutterstock/Firma V

Jigsaws, no matter how big or small: Ellie loves jigsaws and we have about fifty of them at home. She has only just turned three and is doing 100-piece puzzles. She is also big into playdough, she’ll watch the videos on YouTube and then try to make the things herself. If all else fails, I put on MTV and we’ll dance around the room together and sing (badly).

- Denise Cumiskey

We’ll have a family movie day: If it’s really bad outside, we’ll chill out and have a lazy weekend day, with a family movie or two and some snacks. Our other go-to is board games. Nothing brings out the competitiveness like a game of Jenga. Quality family time is hard to come by with our hectic schedules, so if the weather is atrocious it gives us a chance to do something together.

- Ken Hyland

The Wii and Nintendo come in handy: If the weather is bad for weeks on end, doing arts and crafts all day can get monotonous. We have a Wii and a Nintendo in the house as backup, plus we live on a working farm which means lots of lambs for the girls to cuddle during lambing season. As for the boys, on a rainy day they’re quite content for me to read books to them all day.

- Susannah O’Brien

boxshall kids Source: Ross Boxshall

When you have four kids, they make their own fun: With four children close in age, each one always has someone to play with, so rainy days aren’t a big problem. Our eldest often has some sort of game afoot for her siblings. And if not there’s crafts, the big box of LEGO… and in extreme cases, iPads and TV!

- Ross Boxshall

Whatever we do, it’ll be free: If the kids are truly housebound, then we break the day up in to shorter sections of activities. Once I gave them all 20 A4 pages and told them each to build the biggest house they could. It was quite a challenge for them, but it lasted hours! Another day, I gave them each ten sheets and asked them to build a boat that could float longer than all the others. Our main aim on a rainy day is to stick to free activities that don’t cost money.

- Alan Dooley

Parents Panel: What’s your best tip for taming toddler meltdowns?

Parents Panel: How did you decide the right age for big school?

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