Some of us were gazing out our office windows recently as another thunderstorm pummeled downtown Wichita, and it looked like the opening scene from Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.”
The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day …
Chances are you’ve had the same experience – or will soon. Chin on your hand, elbow on the windowsill, wondering when the sun will shine again.
The Wichita forecast calls for rain, rain, and more rain. Five of the next eight days are expected to be cloudy with at least a chance of rain, thunderstorms or severe weather.
“We’re certainly in a wet pattern here over the next couple of days,” said Paul Howerton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wichita.
“It’s not unheard of. We get this sort of pattern usually at least once in the spring, where we get multiple days rain across the plains.”
So be it. But you can’t just sit around like Sally and her unnamed brother, waiting for an anthropomorphized cat to drop by and entertain you.
Here are 33 ways to spend time on a rainy day:
▪ Catch up on indoor projects. “Rain sometimes forces me to stop putting off things I don’t want to do otherwise, like clean my house,” says Tammy Allen of Wichita. Organize closets and dressers, change out clothes from winter to summer, declutter the kitchen table, reorganize bookshelves, make the bed, dust the ceiling fan. Tidying up can be life-changing, apparently.
▪ Make a rainy-day playlist. Here’s a start: “Blame it on the Rain,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “I Love a Rainy Night,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “Pennies From Heaven,” “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”
▪ Take a nap. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can improve your mood, alertness and performance. So grab a pillow, head to the couch, listen to the rain and enjoy a glorious snooze.
▪ Binge-watch a Netflix series. Opt for something bright and cheery, like “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” – actress Ellie Kemper’s smile could brighten the gloomiest day. Or catch up on something dark and disturbing, like “House of Cards,” “Bloodline” or “Breaking Bad.”
▪ Sing. Gene Kelly did it best back in 1952: Grab an umbrella, pop on a fedora, find a downtown lamp post and recreate that iconic scene from “Singing in the Rain.”
▪ Pretend you’re in Portland. According to Weather.com, Portland, Ore., has an average of 154 rainy days each year, making it one of the rainiest cities in the country. Residents seem to take it all in stride, though, splashing through puddles in their Bogs or NoPo boots. Portland even boasts an entire website about what to do when it rains.
▪ One word: Legos.
▪ Two words: Laser tag. Laser Quest, at 21st Street and Woodlawn in northeast Wichita, is a great place for indoor fun on a rainy day. Regular games are $8.50. Call 316-652-9500 for reservations or more information.
▪ Three words: Nifty Nut House. Nothing makes a day brighter, rain or shine, than a trip to one of Wichita’s favorite institutions. From candy to nuts to healthier snacks like dried fruit and trail mixes, this family-owned business at 537 N. St. Francis is a great place to load up on snacks before an afternoon of binge movie watching. Open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sundays and holidays.
▪ Camp out inside. “Get allll of your stuffed animals and your sleeping bag and a Five Alive juice box and camp out by the biggest window and watch it rain,” suggests Erin Craddock of Wichita. “I haven’t done this since the ’80s, but it was really fun.”
▪ Work on a puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles are a great way for families to slow down, focus, work side by side and reconnect. (My family loves the 1,000-piece White Mountain puzzles, which feature collage images of vintage games, toys, snacks, movie posters and more.)
▪ Spend a day in the kitchen. Fill your freezer with good soups, entrees, bread, snacks or sweets for the days ahead when better weather calls you outside. Just Google “make-ahead meals,” and you’ll find enough to start a Pinterest board on the topic.
▪ Read. You hear a lot about “beach reads” this time of year, but a gloomy day can be even more perfect for bibliophiles. Grab a recent best-seller or a classic – perhaps something set in the Yorkshire moors, like Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” Then curl up on the couch and read for hours.
▪ Pull weeds. Several local gardeners said they prefer gentle rain showers to hot, sunny days when it comes to weeding. Rain softens the soil and makes weeds easier to pull, and you don’t have to worry about getting a sunburn.
▪ Color a picture. Coloring – a pastime once reserved for preschoolers – has grown up. Coloring books, crayons, colored pencils and related implements are hot sellers among adults, who say the hobby helps them relax and recapture the simple pleasures of childhood.
▪ Go out and play. “My kids love to jump on the trampoline in the rain,” said Wichita mom Charity Chapman. As long as there’s no lightning, head outside to splash in puddles and get wet and muddy, she said. Make a mud pie. Then come in, clean up, have a hot drink and watch a movie.
▪ Visit a museum. Rainy days are a perfect time to explore a local place you’ve been meaning to visit. The Wichita Art Museum is free on Saturdays. Exploration Place will launch its newest traveling exhibit, “Dinosaurs in Motion,” this weekend. Or check out a lesser-known attraction such as the Kansas Firefighters Museum, open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at 1300 S. Broadway, or the McCormick School Museum, 855 S. Martinson, which is open limited hours Sundays and Wednesdays or by appointment.
▪ Play board games. Rediscover an old favorite, such as Candy Land, Battleship, Scrabble or Uno. Or brave the rain and shop for a fun new game. Gwen Ottenberg, owner of Imagine That Toys in Wichita, recommends Brynk, a stacking, balancing game for ages 7 and up. “You can play with a 4-year-old or you can play with a 40-year-old,” she said. “And there’s no reading involved.”
▪ Study the science of rain. Watch water rushing down gutters, ditches, creeks or rivers. It’s soothing and can be educational. Ask kids to explain why water moves the way it does. How does the water change its surroundings? Which objects float, and which sink? Why? Go online to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science School – http://water.usgs.gov/edu/ – and learn about precipitation and the water cycle.
▪ Work out. Wichita marathoner Lacy Hansen said recent rains have hampered her outdoor running game, but no matter. She just runs laps on the indoor track at the Downtown YMCA. “I’ve been loading podcasts and getting my miles with a pretty awesome view of the city and the storms,” she said.
▪ Go rock climbing. You can learn to scale mountains indoors at Bliss Bouldering & Climbing Complex, near K-96 and Greenwich in northeast Wichita. Some Wichita-area YMCAs also have climbing walls, including the North and Andover branches.
▪ Watch a movie. Consider ones with famous rain scenes. Some options: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Forrest Gump,” “Key Largo,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Jurrasic Park,” “The Notebook,” “The Perfect Storm,” “Road to Perdition,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” and, of course, “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” ( “Is it still raining?” Andie McDowell’s character asks while sharing a kiss in the rain with Hugh Grant. “I hadn’t noticed.”)
▪ Keep learning. If you have a child in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, sign up for the Summer Bridge program at Imagine That Toys, at 29th and Rock Road in Wichita. For $15, you can buy a Summer Bridge activity book, which features learning activities designed for your child’s grade level. If he or she completes the book by Sept. 10, you receive 50 percent off one item in the store.
▪ Get crafty. Cut out blocks for a quilt. Sew. Knit. Scrapbook. Make jewelry. Do craft projects with the kids.
▪ Write a letter. Get out some stationery or just some simple notebook paper and craft a letter – actual, handwritten correspondence – to someone you love and miss. In this age of texts, tweets and instant messages, handwritten notes are especially appreciated.
▪ Go shopping. Check out a local shop you’ve been meaning to visit, browse the antique stores along Douglas Avenue downtown, or stay in your jammies and shop online.
▪ Find a fun new lunch spot. Kristin Marlett likes to take her two sons to the new indoor library at Botanica, which is perfect for toddlers and older kids on a rainy day. Then they grab lunch at the nearby cafe.
▪ I scream, you scream. Most people wait for hot, sunny days to get ice cream, frozen yogurt or shaved ice. But why? Grab an umbrella and beat the crowds to Churn & Burn, College Hill Creamery, Paleteria La Reyna or other can’t-miss local shops that serve cold treats.
▪ Make a list. In advance of summer vacation, Goddard mom Liz Hamor recently started a list of things her family can do when it’s too hot outside. Turns out, all those things work for rainy days, too. Some of her options include having a reading day, watching movies, making cinnamon ornaments and building a Rube Goldberg contraption. Make your own list and keep it handy after the skies clear.
▪ Build a fort. Do it the old-fashioned way, with tables, dresser drawers and stacks of blankets. Or use newspaper, along with tape or a stapler, to craft a frame sturdy enough to throw a blanket on top. For an easy how-to with instructional photos, go to www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/forts-for-kids/.
▪ Rediscover a passion. Scott Drinkwater of Wichita recently introduced his two youngest children to the joys of Dungeons and Dragons. “They are totally into it, and there’s no screen involved,” he said. To be clear, though, “It’s a nerdfest at my house,” Drinkwater added. “Odds are good we’ll be doing this rain or shine.”
▪ Do some digital housekeeping. Take advantage of a rainy afternoon to back up digital files, sync your phone, declutter your desktop, delete emails or organize and archive digital photos.
▪ Plan a vacation. While skies here are gray, research destinations and develop an itinerary for your next getaway. Perhaps someplace sunny.