Whether you have an infant, toddler, or mix of both, rainy days when everyone is stuck inside can be rough. Is the weekend finally here, only to have thunderstorms and strong winds? What do you do to entertain small ones and cope with being stuck indoors yourself? Well, a little TV time is nice. Most cartoons are educational. We tended toward books from about a year on, even though the attention span was too short (for my daughter, some may be different), if I spread out some colorful board books she would go to town. Sometimes I would just read aloud even though she wasn’t paying attention, she would pay attention on and off. Puzzle toys are fantastic! Another favorite when ours was very small was a long bath with her toys, then letting her wear a hooded blanket or towel for a bit. (Here is a link to some we love: Hooded towels)
But what about something that can be either independent or interactive, and utilize everyday things around the house? Books, toys, TV, bath time are all great, but what about something new? I was not interested in crafts so I had no experience with them. And who wants to spend all day cleaning up after all of the mess of entertaining a baby or toddler indoors? Cleaning is how, quite accidentally, our family discovered the fort.
I hated cleaning up those boxes. We tend to order a lot of things (hello Prime Pantry) from Amazon, leading to boxes lying around. Some were pretty large. Whenever we emptied these large boxes, the box would inevitably end up in the living room. Before we realized what allure an empty box contained, we were leaving them by the back door to be brought down to the recycling bin. But our daughter kept dragging them around, crawling in them, eventually bringing her toys into them and making a kind of fort out of them. I kept cleaning up and getting that box out of there, finally putting them on the back porch. One day she saw that I had put a big box out there and it was BEYOND HER REACH. Oh, the yelling she did. For. A. Box. It turned out that the absolute, hands-down, most fun my daughter had indoors was playing in a box. Then one day I wondered what it was about the fort that was so appealing to her. Being curious, I googled forts. Oh my! Who knew (not me) that fort building was such an intrinsic quality in all children. Something innate, and universal!
There are so many ways to go about building a fort, so I will include a couple of links and share our own experience. My husband took a large cardboard box, cut a side opening and sometimes other additions like wings or gave it a shape like a rocket. Other times we just left a box out and let her go at it. Our then 1-2 year old pulled whatever toys she chose into it, sometimes a blanket and pillows, or stuffed animals, or things to color. It depended on her mood. Once she just turned it upside down and hid in it for a while. We have used blankets to cover or decorate it, or to link it to the sofa. Honestly, my child is more creative than me and figured it out on her own. I now see cardboard boxes you can purchase that are made to be colored and have shapes printed on them. They look really cute, but we preferred for the box to be plain and she could draw on it if she wanted, inside or out.
Since I like simple and straightforward, here is a basic “how to build a fort” kind of page.
One woman wrote about making forts for her son with ADD on the following site: The Importance of Kids Fort Building
Finally, a blog that made sense of it for me: Leading Expert On Forts.