“Go get a blanket,” my mom would say, scanning the sky through the window. “It’s getting ready to rain.”
As I scrambled gleefully for the biggest, fluffiest blanket I could find, she would turn off all the lights until the inside of the house was as dark as the gathering clouds. I’d meet her in front of the sliding glass door — the place that afforded us the best view — and sit on her lap.
She would wrap the blanket around us both, and we would sit there silently, enveloped in coziness from the outside in, and watch the rain fall. It didn’t matter if it was a few sprinkles or a torrential downpour. There was just something profoundly soothing about being safe in the house, surrounded by the good fortune of a warm, dry space and my mother’s love.
That little ritual had a lasting impact on me and remains one of my favorite childhood memories. So when I had kids, I felt like it was important to share all the wonderful things we can learn when the sky darkens and the drops begin to fall.
Rainy days teach us that they can be as enjoyable as sunny ones.
To some, the rain comes with a dreary feeling or the disappointment of canceled outdoor plans. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Watching the storm while wrapped up in a blanket isn’t the only great thing to do when the sky opens up.
During warm summer rain showers, I like to hand my kids a bottle of shampoo and let them wash their hair in the cascade of water. (If it stops raining mid-wash, that’s okay — we have a bathtub.) They can stomp in puddles and float sticks down the rivulets running alongside the road, reveling in the fact that their usual play space is temporarily transformed into a watery wonderland. And then they come in to dry off and sip a comforting mug of hot cocoa.
When it’s really storming and too windy or cold to be outside, there’s nothing more blissful than snuggling into a chair with a good book, the pitter-patter of raindrops serving as a soundtrack.
Rainy days teach us to slow down.
There’s something about the stormy weather that makes us feel downright lazy — and that’s okay. We live our lives at such a hectic pace, and the rain can serve as a periodic reminder to stop trying to be über-energetic for one day and just slow down.
Rainy days teach us the value of silence and presence.
When the kids and I are wrapped up in blankets watching the weather, there’s minimal conversation. Sure, it would be a fine time for a heart-to-heart, but we’re busy listening to the steady rainfall and, if the window is open, inhaling that incomparable, fresh smell of the damp ground. We’re taking it all in, and there’s no need for words.
In the silence, I can teach them to be present, to use all their senses, to take notice. And for the whole time, even if it only lasts a few minutes, they know there’s nothing I’d rather do than be right there with them.
Rainy days teach us to drop everything and enjoy the moment.
The thing about rain is that it doesn’t last forever — so if you’re going to wash your hair or splash in puddles or go for a run or curl up with a good book, you’ve got to do it while you can.
Rainy days teach us to appreciate what we have.
At some point, every one of us has felt the discomfort of being drenched and dripping and cold. There is something so nice about watching a storm batter the ground and whip the tree branches around, knowing that you’re sheltered and dry inside. Not everyone has that luxury, and sometimes it takes a rainy day to fully appreciate that fact.
Rainy days teach us that simple can be beautiful.
Think about how perfect rainy days are for baking, or how they seem made for a hearty stew in the Crock-Pot. Those things aren’t complicated or expensive. They don’t require a lot. But they are invaluable because of the feelings they evoke — the togetherness, the reflection, the peace and comfort of being safe inside while the weather rages.
The rain may change our plans, but that just gives us an opportunity to make new and different ones, or to enjoy the chance to relax without having any plans at all. And if that’s not enough to convince you of the awesomeness, here are three words that might: rainy day naps. Those are worth calling in sick for.
So the next time you check the forecast and see rain, don’t roll your eyes and sigh. Think of how you can make the best of it — even if all that means is staring out the window with someone you love.
And don’t forget the hot cocoa.