Maverick Mum: ‘How to survive a rainy day with your toddler’

Closer columnist Rebecca Finlay - aka the Maverick Mum - has revealed how to survive a rainy day indoors with your toddler

The Maverick Mum is one of our absolute favourite mummy bloggers ever - not least of all because she keeps things fresh, honest, and hilarious.

The teenage mum has rebuilt her life after unexpectedly finding out that she was pregnant, starting up her successful blog and heading back to uni with her “terrifying toddler” in tow.

Now she’s joined the team here at Closer HQ to share her insights, advice, and anecdotes with you all via a brand-new weekly column.

Here’s Rebecca’s second instalment, which promises to give you the tips and tools you need to survive a rainy day in with your toddler…

As I write this I can hear Reuben in his bedroom stacking several books on top of pillows, on top of toy boxes, on top of car garages, on top of toy farms, on top of his bedside cabinet… and in 5 minutes I will hear it all tumble to the ground and a regretful but absolutely unremorseful Reuben will holler my name at the top of his lungs. For the 6742804561704 time today.

These are the days when bedtime can’t come quick enough. But when it does, Reubs is ready to re-organise the bedroom furniture, write a 1000 word assignment in blue crayon on the walls, and repeatedly ask for juice. Then milk. Then water. Then a snack. Then a story. Then an adventure to the park with 3 more hours of wide-awake banter. You might have guessed where this is going… today was a rainy day.

I don’t own one of these state-of-the-art toddlers that likes to sit at the table and do crafts, or cosy up for a 2 hour movie. So all of the typical ‘rainy day arty activities’ are useless to me. I have the kind of ready-for-action toddler who needs to be in wide open spaces and run for his life, or else he is ready to scale the walls of the house or jab dinosaurs into my backside every time my back is turned.

As a result, there is nothing more frustrating than weather that stops me from going out to let my dog toddler burn off his energy. This morning I snuck away for 5 minutes, just FIVE MINUTES, to get dressed. It wasn’t long before I heard a smash and went downstairs to see 2 glasses in smithereens and Reuben who had already placed himself on the naughty chair.

For the sake of my sanity, his sanity, and my freshly cleaned house… we need to get out.

Unfortunately, when Reubs started to become this ants-in-pants crazy boy that he is, I realised I had a problem on my hands – I live in Northern Ireland. And I’m not one of these people to let the weather affect my mood, but, seriously, it rains A LOT. So I guess you could say I’m a seasoned survivor of rainy days with a toddler.

And that’s exactly what it is – surviving.

I can’t promise you’ll enjoy 24 hours in a confined space with a child who throws life-questioning tantrums because he dropped a cheerio, but I can promise that you’ll survive. And isn’t that what all of us mothers are just trying to do?

Here’s some of my activity ideas for those gloomy days that work every time.

Build a fort

All you need is a big bed sheet/blanket and some chairs/sofas with high arms. Okay, so I won’t be dropping out of Theology to do an architecture degree anytime soon but this did take serious skill the first time round. It isn’t as easy as it looks on Pinterest. But I guess hipster Pinterest experts don’t have an overly excited 2 year old trying to ‘help’ by rolling around on the blanket and lifting every lamp around the house to add for decoration (at least he has attention to detail). You can do whatever you like in the fort. And by that I mean, you will probably do the exact same things you would do if you didn’t have one but it will kill twice the amount of time because, well, everything’s just cooler when you do it in a blanket fort.

Do the dishes…for an hour

Sounds like a nightmare, am I right? Well, I was very excited to realise that this is my toddler’s dream. On rainy days no one wants to come out of the swimming pool with pneumonia, so this kills every water baby’s cravings. Fill the sink up with lots of water and bubbles and give them some big pots and you’re on to a winner. Sure, you’ll have to come along later and wash the dishes properly, but that’s a small price to pay for a blissfully cooing toddler.

WARNING: there is 99% chance of a flood in the kitchen but fear not, you can grab yourself another hour of quietness by letting them mop it up (slide around butt-naked screaming delightfully at their new paddling pool). I like to do this after dinner to postpone the dreaded witching hour before bed. The beauty of it is, not only will your floor be sparkling – but your toddler will be too, so no need for bath time i.e. World War 3.

Suck it up

Put on old clothes, wellies, and go run in the rain. I hate Peppa Pig for many reasons, not least of all because she is a whiny little yap. But one reason is because she made jumping in muddy puddles cool. And on rainy days you have no option but to run and jump with your child. Maybe on a sunny day you could get away with sitting, chilling and watching while your kid enjoys themselves, but on a wet day you run or else you freeze.

If I’m honest, I’ve been surprised to realise this is one of my favourite rainy day activities. I’m a firm indoors gal, but there is something very freeing and invigorating about running about the park with a 2 year old, both of you slipping and sliding and collapsing in fits of laughter in the mud. Your toddler will revel in your lack of control and lack of mum-ness, and the best part is you have the perfect excuse for a well-earned hot chocolate (with extra cream and marshmallows) when you go back.

Or, if you’re one of these organic mums, a glass of hot water.

An adventure to Ikea

Okay I know what you're thinking: "You have clearly fabricated this whole big lie because if you really had a toddler you’d know they don’t go shopping". But Reuben LOVED it. I like to play hide and seek with Reubs AND mentally re-decorate my whole house. The kids department is a DREAM, and the sales assistants don’t seem to mind your child trying out every animal shaped cushion. In the adult showroom toddlers can play with all the household utensils they aren’t allowed to touch at home, they can bounce on as many beds as they want, and there is no chance of them escaping out the door because Ikea is a one-way system.

Once you're in, there's no going back.

Of course, this does mean you go in for one item and are forced to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a ridiculous amount of stuff, but sure... all part of the rainy day adventure (ask me if it's still an adventure when I'm in my overdraft). Once you’ve had enough of the running around, you can have a nutritious meatball lunch AND ice-cream for £2.50 - amen to that.

Count airplanes

Our Ikea is also right beside the airport so I take Reuben to a spot where you can watch the planes land from the car – he is speechless. And it is blissful. If you live relatively close to an airport I would definitely recommend this to kill half an hour on a rainy day!

The final, and truly desperate, option

We’ve all been there. You’ve completely ran out of ideas, you’ve had approx. 3 hours of sporadic sleep that night, and your toddler won’t want to continue living if he doesn’t get out of the house… so you go to the soft play area. AKA – parent hell. It’s a dark, dark place where no parent ventures unless they want to be faced with toddler saliva on the walls and baby pile-ons at the bottom of the slide.

Every 0.05 seconds there is a high pitched scream and you just drink your coffee and pray that it’s not your child. You look solemnly at the parents beside you and ask them, “How long have you been in?”, only to have them reply “2 hours with no signs of leaving”. You both give an exasperated sigh and sit dreaming of all those summer days you took for granted – fresh air, wide open spaces, no claustrophobic stench coming from sweaty toddler socks.

Hang in there, better days are coming soon.

Tune in next week for the next instalment from The Maverick Mum - or, if you can’t wait that long, check out her awesome blog here.

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