I distinctly remember my childminder saying to me when Spring arrived last year ‘thank goodness, thats been a long, hard winter’. I nodded and agreed thinking how cold it had been and how dark it was when I picked my daughter up and went on my way. Now I am on maternity leave with two children I really, really know what she means and goodness hasn’t it been a long winter already.
Now, I’m not one for wishing time away but Spring anytime you’re ready I am here waiting for you!
The issue I have with winter is as follows;
- Days are short – there are not enough daylight hours to get out of the house with children once naps are over, this is HARD
- It rains. A lot. For example the weather forecast for this week looks like this.
Really? What on Earth am I supposed to do with this?
- To get out of the house I have to get the following on my toddler – a cardigan, a hat, a scarf, gloves and boots. Then I have to bundle my baby in a snowsuit, hat and wool blanket. If we go somewhere in the car then all of the above needs to come off so they are safe in their car seats then go back on when we exit and all over again when we go home.
- Soft plays are hell, especially when it is half term or raining.
- My toddler desperately wants to go in the garden but it is too cold and its muddy / there are no toys for her to play with.
As we are now a few months into winter here are some of the great things that keep me and the little ones sane when we can’t walk to the park and have a run around.
You may have seen from my Instagram we recently went to the most AMAZING play cafe in Dorchester, Munchkins Play Cafe. Unfortunately this is near my parents house so it won’t be something we can go to regularly but the concept was brilliant.
There were two areas downstairs; a large open play area with shopping trolleys, cars, a shop, a train table set and dressing up costumes. In the second area was a big kitchen. There was an upstairs area with a big teepee bed, books, baby toys, dolls houses and wooden blocks. To get back downstairs you could either walk down the stairs (SO boring) or go down the slide – this was obviously a big hit with our toddlers!
The play area got a big thumbs up from the toddlers and for us adults we loved that we could sit down and see them play in the safety of a gated play area, the toilets were clean and modern with steps, pottys etc, they had a lovely changing area for a baby and if you’re breastfeeding or need to feed a baby in peace there is a lovely quiet room.
The food and drink for both adults and toddlers was also fab. We had yummy panini’s and the toddler menu was really extensive with something even for my fussy eater Amelie. She had pitta, ham, cheese and humous and I have never seen her eat so much.
Definitely one to look out for if you’re in Dorset or need a break from a trip down to the South Coast on a holiday.
I know it sounds odd but strangely our local garden centre seems to be one of Amelie’s favourite places.
She can run around, there is lots to look at from flowers, trees and sometimes animals. They have coffee and good food, obviously essential in any outing. And probably the reason she loves it the most… they have a huge selection of toys! This obviously ends in me purchasing about £20 worth of rubbish but anything to keep the children happy right?
In summary Evie tends to sleep, Amelie has loads of fun and we all eat lunch. Big tick from me.
We have a Ceramics Cafe in our village which is the perfect rainy day activity for creative toddlers. We went before Christmas on a cold day and made some lovely Christmas presents for the family.
Amelie was occupied for about an hour and Evie slept throughout with all the background noise. It is however an expensive morning out, if like my toddler yours paints one thing in about 30 seconds and then gets bored and wants to do something else, but for a change in activity we love doing this.
These are fab as you can drop in and drop out depending on when your baby decides they have had enough and don’t cost the earth if you only stay for 5 minutes. We have lots of lovely play groups in Churches in the area so are spoilt for choice – definitely great for a rainy day.
We have a baby/toddler gymnastics drop in class at Weybourne Gym in Addlestone. It’s a gymnastics club that opens its doors to toddlers most mornings. Amelie absolutely loves going here and there’s lots to do from bouncy castles, to balance beams to trampolining.
It’s also fab for Evie as its very open so if she’s asleep in the car seat I can see her easily and if she’s awake they have a little section with baby bouncers and toys so I can put her there and know she’ll be safe and entertained. A perfect rainy day activity.
Now I know I said above that soft plays can be hell however, there are some that are good. One I do love is Kidabulous in Sunbury-on-Thames. It’s a fairly new soft play so is really clean and is huge, so even when it is busy it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
What I like about Kidabulous is that there is a traditional soft play downstairs for the older children and upstairs there is a toddler zone which is much smaller and has lots of safe toddler activities. There is a swing area, a ball pit, an area with lots of cars to drive around, slides, a kitchen and a little music area where they sometimes have a singing class.
I love that Amelie can run around the play area and from most of the seats I can see her, so if I need to feed Evie I know she is safe and close by.
They also do good coffee, have a great selection of snacks and there are lots of good facilities for changing babies and toddlers.
Maybe not for a rainy week, but when it’s cold and dry you can’t go wrong with letting the toddlers loose to burn off some energy whilst you walk *run after them* with the baby asleep in the pram. We live really close to Wisley so this is our go to garden.
What are your top rainy day activities for toddlers and babies – I always love inspiration?