Looking after children in the summer is relatively easy. Lots of fun outdoors, trips to the park, picnics, and so on. But when it rains, and you're stuck inside, it's not long before cabin fever sets in and tempers (usually mine) are somewhat frayed.
Minimise the chaos
I must admit that messiness, clutter and toys strewn everywhere, stresses me out. My husband jokes that I have 'toy OCD' as I like everything to be in its place. Games that come with balls must have all their balls back in place before being put away again.
I will count to check all 26 blocks for the alphabet train are still there. I keep an eye on all the animals in Noah's Ark and the numbers on the wooden clock. It's actually bugging me right now that a puzzle piece has gone missing and it won't be long before I rummage through toy boxes to find it.
Luckily I know I'm not alone in this madness as other mummy friends have admitted to similar behaviour, plus I have relaxed somewhat over the years. Or perhaps I am just overwhelmed by the sheer volume of toys, books and puzzles we now own... I no longer count the balls from the ball pit for one thing, and I can just about cope when the boys throw said balls out quicker than I can sneak them back in.
Still, when the children are playing, it can be a struggle to just join in the fun and not keep tidying up around them. The best solution I've found is to encourage them to help me tidy up. So if we're moving on from jigsaws to building train tracks or marble runs they know that we have to tidy up first to create enough space to play in.
Have you got any tips for entertaining children on those oh-so-frequent rainy days? Let us know by joining in our forum discussion...
Tire them out
Playing indoors doesn't seem to burn as much energy as playing outside, so if you want to exhaust your offspring and ensure a smooth bedtime you will need to leave the house. We've got some great soft play centres nearby but when it rains they tend to get very busy. You might think being cooped up with two kids is bad, but being in a confined space with lots and lots of kids is not my idea of fun either.
We might go to visit friends (and mess up their house instead), otherwise the best thing to do is put on our waterproofs and wellies and go outside anyway. Even just a brief trip to the park can help shake off the cabin fever. Plus, whenever we hit the park in the rain we get the place to ourselves and the boys can play on the swings as long as they want.
Of course, there are various activities tried and tested to help time pass on a rainy day such as baking (and eating) cupcakes or watching a movie with homemade popcorn. We watched The Lego Movie the other day and I was quite taken by the concept of gluing together Lego pieces (not quite the message the film was aiming for).
I realise that summer is pretty much over now so I better brace myself for more rainy days to come and line up some activities that won't drive me too crazy – any suggestions?
Don't miss Junior's ten of the best family activities for what to do when you're stuck inside
Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine and watch out for the hashtag #somethingfortheweekend every Friday to join in with the conversation
Read Kirsty's columns: