More than 300 moms and dads told us their secrets for surviving a rainy day down the shore. Blended all together, a perfect (soggy) day might look something like this:
7:00 Wake up to the sweet sounds of your children screaming, “Get up, Mommy! Get up, Daddy! Get up now!”
7:10 Check the weather report on smartphone. See pictures of clouds and raindrops and accept that a day of beach, sun, and sandcastles will not be happening.
7:20 Build the kids a cave by tucking a sheet carefully into the edges of the sofa.
7:30 Settle them inside the cave with toys, puzzles, and books, as well as instructions to play together nicely.
7:31 Make coffee for self. Bring kids breakfast in the cave. Start feeling proud that the kids will have a delightful and creative day indoors, and they will not spend the day watching TV and playing video games.
7:50 Listen to first fights erupt from the cave.
8:15 Get out the craft box you cleverly packed and brought on vacation “just in case” there was a rainy day! Hand out construction paper, Bendaroos, stickers, crayons, and markers. As the kids are being creative, think to yourself, What a great idea to bring all these things along! Pat self on the back.
8:52 Kids are done with arts and crafts. Suggest board games, but settle on a deck of cards. Play War. Then play Go Fish. Then play Crazy Eights.
9:29 Since you’ve played all the card games you know, make a mental note to bring Uno next year.
9:30 Make home movies of the kids being hilarious and delightful. Give them paper and pencils to write their own play. Help with costumes and watch as they direct and star in an original short film.
10:00 Serve second breakfast. Cut fruit in different shapes and let the kids arrange them in fun designs on their plates before eating.
10:15 Dig in purse and find 10 pennies, 5 dimes, and 7 quarters. Hide them around the house (or hotel room) for an impromptu scavenger hunt. Excitedly tell the kids to start hunting!
10:25 Kids are back with 10 pennies, 5 dimes, and 7 quarters and the evaluation that it was “too easy.”
10:26 Decide a rainy day will not keep you indoors. Dress the kids in rain gear and hit the beach. Collect shells, observe the stormy ocean, and see what interesting things have washed up in the rough tides.
11:15 Head home to paint the shells you found at the beach.
11:40 Turn on TV.
12:00 Still pouring outside. For lunch, create a Beach Café, complete with menus. Dad serves as the waiter and Mom as the short-order cook/sandwich maker. Pat self on the back again for making the most of the rainy day.
12:15 Lunch ends to the unison cry of, “We’re bored!”
12:16 Reassess success of the day and look online for events in town. Find a 1pm taffy-pulling demonstration on the boardwalk.
1:00 Attend taffy-pulling demonstration with what appears to be every other family also vacationing at the shore. Pull out phone and search for movie times.
1:45 Watch movie.
4:00 Take kids shopping and hope that the purchase of new toys will entertain them for the remainder of the afternoon.
4:38 Home again. Children are playing happily with their new toys. Congratulate self on excellent parenting. Relax on sofa.
4:40 Kids pounce on sofa asking to play.
4:41 Go outside for impromptu dance party on the porch.
4:53 Toss around a beach ball.
5:00 Kids complain they’re hungry. Head to the boardwalk for pizza dinner.
6:00 Go to the arcade. And to mini golf. Followed by ice cream.
7:30 Make a quick trip to the beach to see if the storm has left behind any sea glass or other treasures.
8:00 Head home. Look up and see clear skies. Fall asleep dreaming of a day of beach, sun, and sandcastles tomorrow, too tired to congratulate self on having a great rainy day down the shore.
Anna Sandler is a freelance writer and mom to two girls and a boy who will never be bored by a rainy day at the beach.