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There are two times when I find parenting particularly challenging: dark, gloomy days that my kids and I are tempted to reflect in our moods and that period of illness where a child is too sick to go to school but not quite sick enough to simply rest.

Here are my favorite ways to conquer the gloom whether it is due to sickness or weather!

Rainy Day Kids Activities

Sensory Play

Sensory play is my go-to strategy for really young kids who don’t feel well. You can set up an invitation to play, like the tray with colored rice, cars, and marbles.

Always make sure that your invitation to play is developmentally appropriate, and that the activity is properly supervised. For example, this one only works for children who don’t put things in their mouths. You can limit the mess by limiting the materials – even this (relatively small) quantity of rice kept my daughter busy for a long time:

sensory play with rice

New Art Experiences

For older kids, I find that new art experiences are a wonderful, quiet activity that distracts kids from the fact that they don’t feel very good. This might be a new way of making art, like this duck collage that my then-five-year-old daughter made after seeing a similar image in a craft book:

kids activities, kids crafts

Or playing with new art materials – like the ALEX Toys metallic creamy crayons my kids played with in this post about how to encourage creativity.

I like to keep special a few special art supplies hidden away for tough days, but craft books work really well also.

Funny Stories

Eric Litwin and James Dean’s “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes” is my kids’ all-time favorite in this genre, but any story that makes them giggle is a fun choice. My six-year-old recently discovered Peggy Parish’s “Amelia Bedelia” series, and she also enjoys Mary Ann Hoberman’s “Seven Silly Eaters”.

What are your favorite ways to conquer gloomy days?