Spring time is just not happening, and in this cold you can’t spend a lot of time on playgrounds and in parks, so I wanted to share with you all the fun things you can do with your toddler at home and out and about in London during miserable weather!
Out and about:
- Museums: my favourite is the children’s play area in the Science Museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington. You can go there as soon as your little one can walk. They have a bubble show at regular intervals, an indoor climbing frame, a water play area, as well as a family friendly cafe. The best time to go is early morning to avoid crowds, particularly on the weekends – the museum opens at 10am. The kids’ area is located in the lower ground, and there is a lift to take you there if you’re coming with a buggy. Entrance is free. For slightly older children (3+), there is an even better exploratory physics play area on the third floor which tends to be much less crowded.
- My little one also enjoys exploring the Victoria and Albert Museum – although there is no dedicated children’s area, the large halls with echo especially on the ground floor are fun for toddlers to run around once they have learned to walk. There is also an indoor courtyard where toddlers can run around chasing pigeons while you grab a coffee. It is located 3 minutes walk from the Science Museum, so you can easily combine the two.
- Libraries: most libraries run free weekly story time or nursery rhyme time sessions. Fulham library, for example, runs free nursery rhyme classes every Monday and Tuesday morning. St John’s Wood library run songs and rhyme time sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. These are just examples – just visit the children’s section in your library and ask for a class schedule.
- Indoor playgrounds: I’ve become quite a fan of Gambado Chelsea recently. It can get very crowded on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (and some people who’ve only ever experienced Gambado during a busy birthday party might find it too noisy) but it is actually a fantastic indoor playground during the week and on early Saturday and Sunday mornings. It opens at 9.30am. There is a huge slide, climbing frames and much more. If you get an annual membership, you can go as much as you like. It’s very good value for money if you live close by, especially this year when the weather is so bad.
- Classes: there are many private indoor classes to entertain toddlers during the week and on weekends. Gymboree classes and Monkey Music are very popular. My daughter enjoys her ballet classes a lot – it has become the highlight of her week. The Budokwai in Chelsea offers fun gym and art classes for toddlers. The list is endless, but I hope this gives you a few ideas!
- Playdates: my absolute favourite, and once your child is 2 they will likely play with other children around their age while you can chat and relax. In my experience, the first time you get together, there is up to an hour of “no, that’s mine!”, but generally, once they get familiar with each other, they play very well and leave their parents in peace.
- Painting: another good way to entertain your toddler for half an hour or an hour on a rainy day. It can get messy, so use the kitchen table and make sure you purchase an apron (I bought this one on amazon for £5.95 – it’s perfect!). Also make sure you have large good quality paper (we use this A3 Melissa & Doug paper and am very happy with it). Here’s an example of a painting my daughter made over Christmas that I particularly like:
- Jigsaws and puzzles: 1 year olds generally get started with simple wooden puzzles like this wooden safari puzzle. Around 18 months, you can start with something requiring slightly more coordination. I liked this wooden number puzzle. Once your child is 2 years or older, you can move on to more advanced puzzles and jigsaws that will be more interesting for you as well. I am doing 24 piece puzzles with my daughter now. She needs help with them of course so we do them together, but you’ll be surprised how quickly they get better when you do this every day. I like this 24-piece Gruffalo Puzzle and this 100 piece construction puzzle. These are just examples, you will find dozens of excellent jigsaws when you browse.
- Reading books: how much time you can spend reading will depend on your toddler’s attention span and activity level. But you can always spend half an hour in the morning and half an hour at bedtime reading, so you need a lot of books in the house. We get about 5 new ones every week during the library music classes mentioned above. In addition, we have many of our own books. I have given my favourites in the posts books to read with your baby, with your toddler and with your preschooler before.
These are my favourite activities during these cold days. How are you entertaining your little ones on rainy days?