Cabin Fever

Many of you may be in the plum middle of a glorious spring. But we are still trudging along under a thick mass of gray clouds that occasionally drop rain or snow on us. I’m not kidding! And though I have seen a few daffodils around town (poor things), my forsythia is still holding off. Granted, my hilltop is very vulnerable to the chilly winds, so my neighbors a few blocks to the south do have some blooms on theirs. And even though we are used to this sort of thing, it really has been a longer-than-normal winter, and I am detecting signs of cabin fever.

It’s harder on the little kids who are looking longingly out the window, eager to be out playing in the yard. Or, rather, it’s harder on their moms, who are eager to send the little rascals outside to play in the yard. This is one of those times that mothers need a double dose of grace. And sometimes we all need to just open the windows anyway and air the place out!

I recommend bringing as much sunshine in as you can, so I buy grocery store tulips every chance I get. And even when it’s chilly, it’s better to bundle everyone up for a walk than to sit inside wishing. Fresh air does wonders, and  it helps the little ones nap better. It rejuvenates mom, and so does a little fellowship with other moms. There is something very comforting in the companionship of other moms who are going through the same thing in similar ways. It helps you know you are not making this stuff up, and moms can share ideas on how to steer the little ones in ways to keep the cheerful tone up.

I know this is not limited only to those of us with a late spring. But it is often related to the weather. Could be too hot, too muggy, too wet, too dry. We all need to count our blessings, especially at those times when life seems a little wearisome!

The kids can pick up a grumbly attitude if there is one lying around. They can be more weepy, more fussy, more squabbly, just like mom can.  So it’s very important for mom to lay hold of the grace of God so she has some to dispense. We are just flesh and blood, and we can be influenced by our surroundings in negative ways.

The goal for us is to be a thermostat, not a thermometer. A thermostat sets the tone of the surroundings; a thermometer reacts to the surroundings. This is impossible apart from the kindness of God who forgives a grumpy heart and fills it back up with sacrificial love. We want to act, not react, even when the circumstances are crying (literally!) out in ways to annoy us.

I’d love for some of you moms, in good weather or bad, to share some of your fun ideas here. So if you have a suggestion that some other moms might enjoy, please feel invited to contribute.

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15 thoughts on “Cabin Fever

  1. A good friend of mine taught me a great lesson about this. One day she showed up unexpectedly at our door with a lovely batch of baked goodies. She said that her kids were just getting over being sick and everyone was so down that they just had to get out of the house. So her solution was to drive around to various friends’ houses doing something nice for others.
    I’ve tried it since then with my own kids, and it really does help get everyone’s mind off himself!

  2. One of our favorite family things to do lately, because of our late Spring is to go for a lovely afternoon drive. We love driving among the rolling Palouse hills looking for signs of Spring. And even though it’s cold out it really lifts the spirits to see the hills faintly green. We often pack a “picnic” for the ride and stop someplace with a beautiful view, unbuckle and let the kids crawl up front
    with us or we crawl back with them. We have such a jolly time!!! Sometimes the drives are just around the neighborhood other times it’s a day trip, either way it gets us “out” and lessens the restlessness. And of course if it’s warm at all then to the parks we go:o)!!!

  3. Plant seeds indoors! My 2 and 4 year olds love this. You can get seeds for as cheap as 10 cents at Wal-mart, and there is nothing like watching little sprouts grow in the house to remind you what is coming outdoors. Spread out some newspaper, get out the dirt and plant away! You can use anything to put them in-I have friends that use old egg cartons even! Our family really enjoys caring for the little seeds each day and it really does put a little pep in your day.

  4. I try to have a little “school time” with my kids (sort of, they are only 3, 2 and 8mo :o) We read a simple nature book or just look at pictures and talk about a nature item (trees, birds, ponds, flowers, etc.) and then they “draw” a picture of the thing we talked about. A lot of times I’ll draw an outline for them to color. Then all through the day we talk about nature and they look out the windows to see if they can see anything we talked about. Also, on the days we can go out for a walk they can easily identify things like snails, etc because we have talked about them so much.

  5. Homemade play-dough is great fun. It’s a nicer dough, less messy and less expensive than store-bought.

    The following recipe, cut out of a magazine, says it is also good for small muscle development. I would add that it’s also good for a lot of happy play. (Confession: I used to rate the quality of a toy by how many minutes the kids would play with it.)

    2 cups flour
    1 cup salt
    2 cups water
    2 tablespoons cooking oil
    2 tablespoons cream of tarter
    food coloring (optional)

    Place the first five ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. It may appear lumpy at first, but it will smooth out.

    To mix in food coloring, wear rubber gloves (unless you don’t mind stained up hands). I also use a white cutting board as my kneading surface, because the food coloring will stain wood.

    We divide the dough into three or four chunks. Add a drop or two of coloring into a finger-poked hole, pinch it closed and knead the color throughout the dough.

    Store in a covered container. Do not refrigerate. This recipe makes approximately one pound of dough.

  6. Blanket Forts!!! It is all about living room forts with all the blankets you can find. Drape them over the couch, chairs, the dinning room table, anything will work. Then pull out some kind of treat. Even lunch is exciting under a Blanket Fort. Make up a pass word and call it a “Secret Blanket Fort”. I am not kidding you, these can take up a fun day of playing. My kids go a little wacky with it. The shapes of these things are unbelievable. We usually pull out some flashlights and someone always wants to make smore’s, (Which we rarely do.) This mess is always well worth it. We tried to make a night sky under the dinning room table by sticking glow in the dark star stickers to the underside of it. We draped blankets over the top to make it dark underneath and it was very exciting to the kids. Unfortunately the stickers started falling to the ground the next day. But you will probably have better luck, I used very old stickers.

    For a lower maintenance mess, I let the kids make the fort in their room and they can have their lunch in it.

    The Blanket Fort is truly one of the best indoor play grounds. Although, if you come to our house, we actually have one of those big plastic climbing forts with a slid in our living/reading room. We are little nutty though and we don’t mind the eye sore. 🙂 Have Fun!!!

  7. An idea that we like is to make big ornate letters to the Grandparents, (ours being far away in Norway and the US, while we are in Canada).
    Each of our 6 kids makes some sort of paper creation and a letter to go with. For us, this can take an hour or more.
    It’s fun to make, fun to send, and then after we have forgotten about it, along come some really delirious phone calls from the loving grandparents.
    And that is really fun too!

  8. When my kids are hungry and “bored” sometimes I’ll declare a picnic, which always perks up little ears. We sit on our kitchen floor and eat – right off the serving plates (i.e. one plate of sandwiches, one plate of fruit, even a plate of cookies).

    They think it’s all so exciting. (Easy to clean up, too!)

  9. What great ideas! I have to admit that often I’m so plum tired that the more “elaborate” ideas escape me when I need them. (Although I can say I’m getting better.) So when we’re facing the grumpies, sometimes I just go for the chocolate or jelly beans! I sit down with one or two of the girls in my lap (whoever needs the love most), and we share the candy as if it were the most exciting secret around. I tell them that it’s magic candy that attacks all the grumpies rolling around inside them. After lots of giggles and happy tummies, we’re good to go!

  10. Yup! Blanket Forts! My husband brings in the card table from the garage so they can put it in the living room and make a fort with blankets, chairs, table, couch, whatever. They can play there all day and have lunch under the blankets. Here are some other things we do to cheer ourselves up and concentrate on the blessings.

    1. Put on a pot of tea, and not just at tea time. I’ll usually read to the kids.

    2. Picnics in the back yard (even when it’s terribly hot – we live in Phoenix and the sun depresses me) under the mulberry tree.

    3. We LOVE rainy days so any time we get rain in Arizona (say late summer) we make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. We do this even if it’s hot outside. All the doors are closed and we look out to the overcast sky and pretend it’s fall and that it’s cold weather.

    4. Tea party with fancy china.

    5. We play Narnia (I usually get stuck being Mrs. Beaver cooking something in the kitchen 🙂 )

    6. Sit by the back door and look out into the yard (any time of year) at the little bit of green we’ve got back there. We’ll read books or just stare at whatever is growing.

    7. Someone takes turns reading poetry while the rest of us do some handwork.

    8. Make popcorn and watch a movie.

  11. When my girls were little we would have “hobbit lunches”. On a day when I had absolutely no time to fix lunch (or found that their teenage brothers had unexpectedly consumed almost everything edible), I would grab some crackers and some beef jerky and wrap it in paper towels. Then we would hide and eat it in an unusual place, like under the table or behind the couch and plot how we were going to outwit the orcs. On days you have more time, you can also make “lembas” by adding some unusual flavor like anise to a cookie recipe, then wrap the things in green paper cut out in the shape of leaves. Many happy memories!

  12. Around here, we just play with the toys together! The kids find blocks, trains, dolls, whatever, to be more fun if Mom plays, too. So, sometimes laundry takes a little longer or the floor doesn’t get vacuumed, but we play! I have to agree, though, that Blanket Forts are fun. My husband comes home to the mess and declares, “Wow! Y’all had FUN today!” before climbing in himself!

  13. On truly gloomy days when outside play is not an option, my toddler loves to watch home movies of herself. I love getting to see how much she has grown. I also keep a cheap photo album with pictures of her from her first year of life as well as all the people who are important to her. She loves looking at pictures of herself as a baby. I try to keep some “special” toys in a box on a shelf in her closet that only come out when our “everyday” toys just won’t do.

  14. Our two favorite winter activities (since winter is like late spring in TX) are:

    1. We hang a bird feeder outside our living room windows; we have several kinds of birds that visit, and each child has their own favorite “family”. We sit on the floor (since our windows are full-length) and peek out at them, making up stories about what their little bird-lives might be like. It’s really fun to hear what they come up with! We actually just got a thistle feeder for Christmas from my sister, so now we get different kinds of birds on the different feeders–lots of fun! On particularly lazy cold days, they will sit for up to an hour, just watching the bird antics & chattering about where their babies, grandparents, etc. are, what their homes are like, etc. To make this really fun, we’ll sometimes have a sunflower or pumpkin seed snack while watching the birds.

    2. We LOVE forcing bulbs indoors. When bulbs come out in nurseries in the fall, I get extras (usually hyacinths), put them in a brown lunch bag, and put them in the back of my fridge until after we’ve normalized our schedule after the holidays–which is usually late January or February. Then, we pull them out and put them in a big shallow glass bowl with clean rocks in the bottom. Set the bulbs on top of the rocks, gently nestling them in so that they don’t tip over. Then, add water to just touching the bottom of the bulbs. Very soon, you can watch the little roots pushing out and wrapping around the rocks, and then the little green tips pop up. The kids love checking them out each day. My older ones even enjoy sketching them every several days. You can also force flowering branches by bringing them inside & putting them in warm sugar water in a sunny window–like forsythia!

  15. I have some pop-open tunnels and tents that connect, and these are amazing for little ones with cabin fever! Not to mention, they give them a little exercise. They take two seconds to set up and about five to put away! I got mine at Costco for about $20 for 6 pieces, but I’ve seen some indoor/outdoor tents and tunnels at Target during summer months, so keep your eyes peeled! 🙂

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