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Staying Sane When Cabin Fever Sets In

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Let me set the stage for you: it’s 9 AM on a cold February morning. The high temperature for the day is SIX degrees—far too cold to take my preschooler, toddler, and infant out for a romp in the snow. Roads are all but impassable. PBS Kids has lost its appeal, nap time is hours away, and I cannot endure one more round of Candyland. Sound familiar?

As I collapse onto the couch, my three-year-old hands me a loaf of bread. With pleading eyes, he asks, “Mommy, can we have a picnic? Please?” My eyebrows shoot up as I glance out the window. Is he serious?

“You know what, Buddy?” I begin, determined to reclaim the day, “We can have a picnic right now.” I grabbed a blanket, a big box of graham crackers, and some juice boxes, and we had a picnic right there on the floor. Giggles and joy ensued, and I was quickly proclaimed “the best mom ever.”

As the winter months drag on, cabin fever sets in for moms and kids alike. Whether it is snow, rain, mud, or wind, too often we find ourselves stuck at home and longing for new ways to enjoy our days. Here are some of our favorite things to do inside:

1. Have a dance party!

Sometimes we just need to burn off some of that pent-up energy, and music is a great way to help us do it.

2. Host an indoor luau.

Find a Hawaiian station on Pandora, pull out your sunglasses and bathing suits, and hula in the living room. Have a picnic on the floor, then let the kids play with toys in the tub—still in their bathing suits, of course. (You’re on a Hawaiian beach, after all, not in the bathroom!)

3. Hunt for not-quite-Easter eggs.

Who says those plastic eggs have to be saved for one special day? If you don’t want to fill them with toys or candy, you can put one or two coins in each. Or put a few puzzle pieces in each one and build a puzzle when you’re done.

4. Perform random acts of kindness.

Brainstorm some ways to help others, then head out to spend a day investing in the people around you.

5. Bake cookies.

Kids love to help in the kitchen. And if they’re too young to really help, give them a couple of bowls, some measuring spoons, and some flour. My kids had endless fun measuring and pouring while I cooked. (Bonus points if you deliver the cookies to neighbors or first responders as part of your random acts of kindness.)

6. Puppet fun.

Grab some brown lunch bags or old (but clean) socks and create some puppets. Markers, buttons, sequins, string—anything you have laying around the house can be used to create some fun characters. And don’t forget to put on a show!

7. String round cereal onto pipe cleaners.

This is great fine motor practice for little ones… and a yummy snack to boot.

8. Hold a talent show.

Let your kids showcase their developing talents, and don’t forget to get in on the fun yourself. Recording it on your phone provides an extra dose of fun because kids like watching themselves perform almost as much as the performance itself.

9. Tell a story.

Provide your kids with a storytelling seed and let them write, draw, or tell a tale.

10. Interview a family member.

Invite a grandparent over for some of the cookies you baked or call a long-distance relative. Help the kids create some questions that will help them to get to know their family a little better. What kinds of games did they play as a kid? What did they want to be when they grew up? Do they remember a favorite family vacation? A favorite teacher?

What is your favorite way to make long winter days more fun?

Katy Epling is a writer and speaker who loves to share about motherhood, special needs parenting, faith, and more. She and her husband Jon live in northeast Ohio with their three wonderful children.


What is your favorite thing to do on a cold winter day?

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