Stuffed Animal Hospital: an indoor toy wash activity for rainy days

May 7 2013 | Guest post by SaraBeth - Multiple Momstrosity
By: BCPL PhotoCC BY 2.0
As spring weather of intermittent cold peppered with rain continues to downpour in our area, I struggle to find indoor appropriate activities for two plucky (bored and fighty) toddlers. I'll spend afternoon coffee breaks Googling indoor activities to keep the stir-crazy levels to a slow mix rather than the full-blown pulverize we get once the kids have been held in weather related house arrest for more than a day or two.

I got this idea when I was talking to my husband about one of his favourite annual childhood rainy day activities: Stuffed Animal Hospital. Essentially he and his sister would go around their house and gather all of the stuffed toys that needed a little TLC (buttons sewn on, a trip through the washing machine, torn appendages fixed and so on). They would diagnose the issues to the chief surgeon (Mum) while she fixed them up. It would entertain them for a few hours and their toys would come out in better repair. Win-win.

The minions aren't quite old enough to have completely destroyed stuffed toys but some of their other toys are getting pretty gross. With Chris still suffering mid-flu-consumption I figured it was time for a little disinfection fun for everyone.

I used three large bowls (one for dirty toy storage, one for soapy water and one for rinsing), baby wash soap, some towels, a scrub brush, a pitcher for drying clean toys and a little imagination. For older kids you could do this in the bath tub or in a kitchen sink.

I have a few tips for toy wash success:

  • Depending on the age of your child(ren) you may want to be the one to distribute the toys to make sure that things don't get too crazy
  • Be prepared to be the official toy scrubber and dryer while the kids play in the water
  • Don't fill the bowls too full or let your child pick up the bowls and dump them on the ground
  • Have a change of dry clothes on hand for after the event (or time right before bath time)
  • Choose your toys carefully (make sure they can be washed) and dry them well to prevent rotting or damage
  • Have your children remove their shoes and socks before you begin the toy wash, otherwise you'll spend the next morning before daycare with little shoes and a hairdryer

What indoor games have you invented to keep your kids entertained?

  1. Great idea! I also loved the Tips for Success, must of been a rocky first run… thanks for knocking that out of the way for us all!

    1 agrees
  2. I love this!! With all the googleing I did this past winter for indoor activities (we had 4 ft of snow at our house for about 2 months straight) this is the most impressive idea I've seen yet. There are so many variations of this you can do to make it appeal to your kids' specific interests. This could be a regular activity if you (like me) have way too many toys in your house, also a good chance to go through and see what can be donated.

  3. Great idea! I've seen that before in more of a play capacity with play bandages, but this is even better since it's functional!

    Indoor games:
    grocery store (helps if you have a mini shopping cart or basket. put food all over the house, have a "checkout," then put it back in the pantry. could maybe use this as a way to organize or pick out food to donate)
    mechanic (youngest slides under little red wagon and older kids hand them play tools, then have a test drive)

    Crafts:
    make elaborate valentines for family members

    1 agrees
  4. We're really into arts n crafts in our house and one of my favorites is making clay (you can find a bunch of recipes online, but it's usually flour, salt, baking soda), sculpting something, baking, and then painting. We made a cool Gnome diorama once, with a pumpkin house for them to live in. : )

    1 agrees

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