It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Indoor play on rainy days

We have had a lot of rain this summer. A LOT, lot, lot of rain. Days and days of drizzle, downpour, and damp. We discovered last week that there’s a leak in the attic. The roof repair that we’d hoped to put off till next year has probably become this year’s project.


Since it’s inevitable that there is at least one child in the crew who is not appropriately attired for puddle-jumping, we end up spending a lot of time indoors on deluge days. Indoor time means more circle time, more organized play, and more crafts.

I do not generally ‘do’ organized play. To my mind, ‘organized’ and ‘play’ are, when in the control of an adult, antonyms. Opposites. Child-directed play has, I assume, some sort of inner order, an organic flow that makes sense to its participants. It may confuse/amuse the heck out of any adult watching, but then, it’s not for/about the adults, is it?

Children play. Adults play, too, but not like children. And I will be entirely honest with you, here. Those of you who imagine Mary’s day to be one long happy round of skipping, playing, dancing, playing, laughing, playing, singing, playing, holding hands, playing …


The kids play. I laugh, sing, feed, clean, change, organize, nurture, discipline, negotiate, explain, guide, direct, scold, smile, redirect, tease (kindly), observe, analyze, strategize … lather, rinse, repeat.

I do not play, because (brace yourselves) … Playing? All day every day? I’d go out of my mind with boredom. Out of my mind.

But on rainy days, on continuous long streams of rainy days, I do organize the play. This is sheerest self-defense. Toddlers caged indoor for hours at a stretch, never mind entire days, become restive. Their endless, boundless, ceaseless, ever-ready energy is constrained, restrained, oppressed by the four walls, by the furniture, by the other bodies in the same space.

Quick! Must defuse the five ticking time-bombs in my home!

So, that odd, adult oxymoron, “organized play”.

I have games that involve lots of physical movement. We jump, we slither, we fly like birds and like butterflies and like planes. We are popcorn, we are fire engines, we are sleeping bunnies and roaring tigers. We make obstacle courses, under the bench, along the bench, jump off the padded footstool. We crank the music and dance.

This is, of course, the Royal We. Mary does not do this stuff. Mary is no longer 24. Nor even 34. Nor even … well, you take my point. Suffice it to say: Mary organizes and facilitates. The children do the leaping and crawling and slithering. Mary does dance and sing, though.

The thing about playing with children (this most particularly if you have more than one) is that they play together. Me? I only have to do the bits I enjoy. I like dancing, I like singing, so I dance and sing. Jumping? Not so much. The tots have never seen Mary jump, and this is a Good Thing. (If Mary did not write such a family-friendly blog, Mary would be making decidedly earthy comments about the relationship between jumping, gravity, larger-cup bras and certain body parts.)

Problem with all these lively games is that they are also LOUD. Though we have negotiated this drizzly season with the walls of the house still upright and no broken furniture or even children, my ears, they are not so happy. The children get clautrophobic because of the lack of open space for running. I get claustrophobic because of the omnipresent, oppressive, inescapable noise, noise, noise, noise.

Bring on the sun!

July 7, 2008 Posted by | health and safety, the dark side | , | 10 Comments