Rainy Day Adventures with a Toddler

Rainy day ideas for toddlers

Sunny weekend forecast: Hang out in the backyard. Go to the park. Ride bikes around the neighborhood. Maybe be adventurous and go to a new park. Play it all by ear.

Rainy weekend forecast: Mid-week, Google popular indoor activities for toddlers. Make shopping list with ingredients for multiple baking projects that toddler (and pregnant mom) will enjoy. What about art and crafts? Do we even have crayons? Add crayons to list. Get warning from mom friends to avoid children's museums, aquariums and indoor play spaces unless we can get there early. We don't want to get anywhere early. Google unpopular indoor activities for toddlers.

In other words, we've found that a rainy weekend requires a game plan and some creativity—and not just for the sake of our toddler. Will is often happy to play around the house, but sometimes it's us—the parents—who need a change of scenery or a new toy (or in my case, a new muffin recipe). Considering the record rainfall we're currently having in California, we've had to come up with some rainy day adventures—fast. These have been our three favorites so far.

BAKE IN OUR PJS

Rainy day ideas for toddlers: Baking in pajamas!

Will loves all kitchen appliances—the louder, the better. Any recipe that involves an electric mixer, food processor or blender is an automatic hit. During one particularly rainy weekend, we stayed in our pajamas all day and made pancakes, muffins, banana bread and cookies (I mentioned I’m pregnant, right?). Will is eager to be involved and insists on fetching, measuring and pouring the ingredients (“Will do it!”). Unfortunately, this meant our batch of chocolate chip cookies ended up with very few chocolate chips (“Will eat poplit pips!”). Still, a day where we can all be entertained and well-fed without leaving the house or changing our clothes is a win in my book.

Making blueberry muffins


Getting toddlers involved in the kitchen


Greasing (and tasting) the muffin tin


Excited for those blueberry muffins!



RIDE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Rainy day activities with a toddler: Ride public transportation

Will is going through a major train phase, so one rainy Sunday, we decided to take a ride on Cal-Train, the Bay Area's commuter rail line. Where to? No particular destination. We rode the mostly empty train up a few stops, got off at a familiar spot with just enough time to grab coffee, and then rode the train back home. Will couldn't have been happier. He stared out the window, ate some snacks, and talked about how he was on a “big choo choo!” Meanwhile, Nick and I got to sit back, relax and enjoy our coffee—a luxury these days. This might be our best parenting discovery so far.

Waiting for Cal-Train

All aboard Cal-Train

Little Cal-Train passenger

Waiting for the choo choo

OUTSIDE TIME

Capitalize on breaks in the rain

Getting outside might sound like a no-brainer, but capitalizing on breaks in the rain is a challenge (ready, set, go: stop everything, locate rain gear, put rain gear on, repeat previous step after the inevitable diaper change that's required right when you're finally ready to head out the door). Still, it's worth it. During a recent dry moment on a drizzly day, we had our neighborhood park all to ourselves. We quickly learned that it's a good idea to pack a towel to wipe down the playground equipment. After Will took a wet ride down the slide, he requested that we change his pants (we also did not pack spare pants). Thankfully, he quickly recovered and moved on to exploring new parts of the park, which was fun to witness.

Park all to ourselves

Playing at the park on a rainy dayDrizzly day at the park

Will realizing the back of his pants are soaking wet...

Parent tip: Pack towels to wipe down park equipment after rainy days

Things That Go (Oh, No!)

toddler in a pickup truck

"Do boys love transportation?" I asked Nick when I was nine months pregnant with Will. I was folding a pile of freshly washed onesies and footed pajamas we'd been gifted and suddenly noticed that the majority of them were covered with planes, trains and automobiles. Nick shrugged, then added, "My first word was bus."

Almost two years later, I can confirm that Will loves all things transportation. Before bed, he says "nigh nigh" to his favorite things, which almost always include the dog, daddy and "airplane park" (a park across from the airport). Like his dad, "bus" popped up early on in his vocabulary. And he loves climbing into the driver's seat of our car once we've parked in the driveway and taking over the wheel. He calls it "oh, no!" because that is what we said the first time he attempted this. He'll actually ask to do "oh, no!" and protest when it's time to go inside. "More oh, no! More oh, no!"

So imagine Will's excitement when there was an event near our neighborhood with two parking lots full of things that go for kids to touch, climb and "oh, no!" all over. Will explored the inside of a bus, sat (or stood, actually) in the driver's seat of a fire engine, ran up the ramp of an 18-wheeler, and got behind the wheel of a bright orange, vintage pickup truck with a cute little friend by his side. I can almost picture them driving off to prom together. Oh, no.

toddlers in a vintage pickup truck



climbing trucks

toddlers love fire trucks
fire truck at touch a truck day in san jose

exploring a bus
on the ramp of an 18-wheeler

Family Fave: Shoup Park

Family Fave: Shoup Park

I'm always curious about how other parents spend their weekends, so I figured I'd share one of our favorite family activities: making a trip to Shoup Park in Los Altos. This secluded spot has awesome play structures, big lawns for kiddos to run around, a path for bikes, scooters and dogs, and a nearby creek that I can't wait for Will to splash around in one day. The best part? The park is only a couple blocks from downtown Los Altos, where there are plenty of cafes and bakeries (currently loving newcomer Manresa Bread), so we can easily pick up treats for a coffee and croissant break. We'll spend an entire morning here and by the time we get home, Will is pooped—just in time for his afternoon nap.

An insider tip from Nick, who grew up blocks away from this park: You can follow the creek toward a trail that leads to Redwood Grove Nature Preserve, where little (and big) adventurers can continue exploring.

Toddler fun at Shoup Park, Los Altos
Scooter rides at Shoup Park, Los Altos, CA
scooters, dogs, and more fun at Shoup Park, Los Atlos
Playground slide at Shoup Park, Los Altos

Croissants from Manresa Bread, Los Atlos
croissants the size of your head at Manresa Bread

Playground bridge at Shoup Park in Los Altos
Playground fun at Shoup Park in Los Altos
matching Converse

Park kisses

One of our favorite parks - Shoup Park, Los Altos, CA

A Look Back on 2016



If 2015 was a blur, then 2016 was the year when things started to come back into focus. Our baby—and parenthood in general—became exponentially easier and more fun. Will took his first steps on Easter and was walking down the block before his first birthday in April. His babbles turned into words, then phrases, and now hilarious combos like "Boo, no, no!" when the dog eyes his dinner. We learned that Will loves airplanes, kitchen appliances, and routine—he could probably make Nick's pour-over coffee on his own by now. In the summer, we picked blueberries in Oregon and tasted dirt from the backyard. In the fall, we saw the Blue Angels roar over San Francisco and waded in the Russian River. We celebrated Christmas with Will's very own choo choo. Everyone got plenty of sleep. Things were so great that we decided, hey, let's do this again!

Here, some of our favorite pictures from the year: