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Rainy Days And Happiness Can Exist Together

My son’s kindergarten class had a tradition of belting out the first few verses of Hammerstein’s Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’ anytime the weather was picturesque and sunny for their daily outdoor recess. Hearing 5- and 6-year-olds sing the classic song was as adorable as you can imagine, but I always wondered what they sang on a rainy day. Button Up Your Overcoat, perhaps? Or Singin’ In The Rain?

Rainy days get a bad rap. They are sunless and dark, and unless you’re Sally and Conrad from The Cat In The Hat, those cold, cold, wet days threaten to be a crashing bore. Most city parents will agree—being cooped up indoors in our apartments doesn’t always give us the beautiful feeling that everything is going our way.

Puddle jumping in Vancouver! Photo via @livingv6a

But if raising resilient kids is a central parenting goal, we can’t allow a little precipitation in the forecast to send our own moods plummeting. Urban life often requires more interaction with the weather (most of us have traded an attached garage for a city-wide public transit system), and our toughness needs to match.

Getting in the right mindset about spring or autumn rainy seasons is just as important as getting the right gear. Master both, and your rainy days will be no less happy than the perfect sunshiny ones. ☔

Start a rainy day tradition

One way to change your family’s collective mindset about rainy days is to enact some rainy day rules or traditions. Kids adhere to fun rules like Pizza Friday with fierceness, and if you decide to bake homemade cookies when it rains, you’ll probably get a round of applause when the forecast calls for showers. Maybe blanket forts are more your speed, and each time a thunderstorm rolls in you cozy up inside with hot tea and books.

If your corner of the world has a long rainy season, try compiling a rainy day box full of activities, games, and toys that are only played with when it’s raining. Shifting the mindset from rain ruins everything! to rain brings me exciting activities! is the ticket to having a happy rainy day.

Fresh air—even when it’s raining—works wonders for kids. Photo via @eatplaymom in San Francisco

Get outside!

Sometimes we forget that rain is nothing more than water falling from the sky. We act as if we’re quarantined inside until the drizzle passes, when in reality there are all sorts of adventures to be had outdoors when it’s raining. And to seal the deal, life essentials like grocery trips and doctor visits and work meetings aren’t canceled when the clouds open up.

Getting outside—even when it’s raining—can boost the mood for the whole family. Even if you come home a little soggy you’ll probably be glad for the fresh air. Anyway, we’re tough city people raising resilient city kids. We can handle a little water.

Gear up

If you’ve ever sloshed home from the bus stop in the middle of a surprise shower wearing sneakers and a denim jacket, you’ll know that having the right rain gear makes all the difference. Once you’re protected from the elements, rainy days can actually be charming, and there’s a reason the kids can’t stop giggling while jumping in puddles.

Start with the right footwear and an umbrella and add a raincoat if you’ll be regularly walking in the rain. If you’re working with a budget, make a list, start slow, and buy items in the off-season if you can. Search thrift stores and online consignment retailers to find secondhand rain gear, or organize a clothing swap with your neighborhood families.

Browse these brands for quality rain gear for the kids:
1 Transparent raincoat by Pluie Pluie / 2 L.L. Bean Discovery rain jacket / 3 Joules rain coats pair form with function beautifully / 4 Rubber raincoats with fun prints are practical and fun / 5 Fleece-lined rain suit for small puddle jumpers / 6 Brits know rain, and these dungarees by Muddy Puddles are perfect for rain or snow / 7 Classic Hunter boots come in various styles and colors for the whole family / 8 These rain boots by Joules come in many colors and can be rolled up for storage / 9 More Joules rain boots / 10 Bogs are well-loved for their lightweight styles and pull-on handles
Don’t forget your own closet:
1 Hunter makes boots and stylish rain coats like this transparent one / 2 Another waterproof coat by Hunter Mens / 3 Packable waterproof raincoat by Joules / 4 UNIQLO offers rain gear for the whole family like this grey men’s parka / 5 Joules for men / 6 Hunter boots in short. . . / 7 . . .or tall styles / 8 Bogs for grown-ups too! / 9 Everlane Rain Boots / 10 Highly-rated XTRATUF ankle boots for men

Make a backup plan

Let’s be honest, despite the best rain gear and the most positive mindset about the weather, sometimes we just want the rain to go away. Especially during those week-long stretches of grey weather when everyone is getting cranky and stir-crazy. That’s the perfect time for a beach vacation or a backup plan.

Museum memberships are worth every penny during the rainy season, offering a large, dry space to blow off steam after school. If your city offers drop-in classes or play space memberships or indoor recreation, those are also fantastic for beating rainy day blues. And planning vacations as an escape from the rain isn’t just a facetious idea—sometimes you just need to get away. A simple staycation or overnight stay in a neighboring city can do the trick to jolt you out of the doldrums.

Some alternatives to the ubiquitous black umbrella:
1 Rocket ship umbrella / 2 Black on the outside, party on the inside! Sky umbrella from MOMA / 3 This Holographic umbrella from Hipsterkid will make your kid the envy of the schoolyard / 4 Your kids can make their own sunshine with this bright yellow number / 5 Color Wheel Umbrella! / 6 Basil Bangs is known for their prints like this gorgeous painterly one / 7 Another Basil Bangs: the Modernist Umbrella (black on the outside) / 8 Stripes by Madewell / 9 Visit your art museum’s gift shop for some unique options like this Louis C. Tiffany umbrella from The Met

Tips

  • If you buy a lightweight raincoat, consider sizing up so it can be worn with layers on cold days.
  • Hoods are bothersome, but you’ll want it during an all-day rain.
  • If your city gets a lot of rainfall each year, consider making a spot in your entryway or apartment hall to let everything dry out. Get a boot tray or waterproof mat and leave all the wet stuff there while it dries so you don’t drag muddy water across the floor in your home.
  • We’ve lost track of how many umbrellas have been left on the subway or the bus or in the backseat of the cab. Fancy ones are fun, but we take the practical route and buy the cheapest ones we can find that are durable enough.

You’ve probably heard the oft-used Scandinivian maxim “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing,” and we agree. Rainy days don’t have to be terrible; with good gear and a dose of positivity they can be downright fun.

Rainy day and happy kids! Photo via @600sqftandababy

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