Bangkok parents: If you’re anything like me, you’re racking your brains to figure out what to do with the kids in order to avoid the daily protests, deal with school closures, and accept the fact that the major malls and play areas are closed (can you really blame Central World after what happened in 2010)?
So – I thought I’d throw some ideas out there for the creatively-challenged (which, by the way, definitely includes me). Lucky for me, I have a love for Pinterest and I’m fortunate enough to have some wonderfully-inventive friends — so here are some ideas to get you through the dog days.
1. Good news? The morning weather is now cool! Another piece of good news? For those of us who live next to Lumpini Park, the protesters have left the park area (after many months of being camped out on the park’s Silom-side), which means we can safely utilize the area without totally melting in the heat. So, grab some friends, scooters, bug boxes, and fish food and enjoy these December days outside. For those of you who live in Phrom Phong, the same goes for Benjasiri Park — enjoy this cool weather!
2. It’s December and do you know what that means? Well, yes, besides wonderful — albeit some times very tacky — decorations on every corner, it is the month of the Plan Toys Factory Store (Sathorn Soi 10) big annual sale. Protests haven’t extended towards Sathorn, so depending on where you are coming from, the area near the store should be clear. The kids can play with all of the demo toys (including a huge train table) while moms and dads enjoy 50-80% discounts for wooden toys. A great Christmas shopping activity!
3. Go to the play groups that are still open. One of our favorites? Tiny Tots Play Group on Soi Convent (Silom) at Christ Church on Wednesdays and Friday mornings from 09:30-11:30. They have a large space and an AWESOME array of toys. The set-up is always different. Some weeks you’ll find ice and polar animal play, other weeks you’ll find a rack full of princess dresses, and you’ll always find old favorites like Legos, ride-on toys, kitchen and house toys, etc. The church also provides a craft activity and music for the children. The Wednesday play session has a religious component to it (bible story to begin), but the Friday session does not. For more information, visit the Christ Church Bangkok Playgroup Facebook Page. Due to renovation of the church hall, the next play group dates are December 11th and 13th. The playgroup will close for the holidays from 23rd Dec – 3rd Jan. Please note that this is a parents and babies/toddlers group only (no nannies). Also, there will be a craft and used toy sale at the play groups on the 11th and 13th.
4. Plan your own play dates with friends in your area and rotate houses/play areas one day per week. I’m fortunate enough to have a wonderful group of friends and we rotate homes every Wednesday afternoon for play. This keeps the play venue fresh for kids and both moms and kids get some wonderful social time. We planned the group so that everyone lives on the same block, which means our activities, as of yet, have not been affected by the protests.
5. Swim! Yes, it might be a little bit more chilly out these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize your pool and enjoy fun water play activities. We are in Bangkok, folks — enjoy the ability to swim comfortably during the winter while you can!
6. Find walkable or sky-trainable Christmas activities in your area. There are a lot of fun holiday activities going on around the city this time of year. Try to find some in your area. For example, we just went to a gingerbread cookie and house-decorating activity at the Plaza Athenee Hotel on Saturday afternoon. Children decorated cookies until their hearts were content, enjoyed a wonderful Christmas buffet, took in a magic show, listened to caroling, visited with Santa, and played in and decorated a huge gingerbread house. In the meantime, parents enjoyed two glasses of wine, champagne or beer and watched their little ones delight in the holiday cheer. All proceeds from the event supported a children’s orphanage.
7. Tap into Pinterest and do some craft searching. This one is not rocket science, folks. Are you familiar with Pinterest? If not, get interested now. And within Pinterest, simply search for “kids’ crafts.” You will be amazed by the awesome activities that pop up. For example, here is a broad selection of Christmas activities offered: Pinterest Christmas Kids Crafts.
8. Make your own play doh and let the kids go to town. Okay, I confess that I was a bit scared to make my own anything (play doh, bubbles, etc.), but after seeing a friend do it super-successfully, I tried my own hand at it and it worked! I made a couple of huge batches and the kids loved cutting, forming and playing with the dough. I gave them a whole slew of cookie cutters in all shapes and sizes to use with the dough as well, which they seemed to enjoy. One tip for Bangkok: when you are done playing with your homemade play doh, store it in a closed container or plastic bag in the refrigerator to avoid mold. Here is the recipe that I used (there are tons of recipes out there): Play Doh Recipe by Family Education.
9. Colored rice sensory play. This was another awesome idea by a creative friend of mine. Instead of creating a sand pit on your balcony, why not try some colored rice sensory plan? The good news here? We’re in Asia, folks, so rice is everywhere! Buy a few big bags, some rubbing alcohol, food coloring, ziploc baggies, and a big plastic tub. Here’s a how-to: Colored Rice Activity by Living In Gear.
10. Decorate. That’s right. Get the kids involved in some holiday decorating. Put up the tree, the lights, the ornaments, the stockings . . . why not?
Now, that’s all I have in me right now. Hopefully I gave you at least an idea or two. Let’s all pray that these protests end soon and peacefully so that we can all enjoy the holiday season. In the meantime, stay safe, and if you are looking for some updates on the protest/security situation, the U.S. Embassy Bangkok Facebook Page is a good place to start.