It’s still winter, isn’t it? That spring equinox seems so close, yet so far away. If experience has taught me anything, it’s that winter tends to overstay its welcome.
If cabin fever has begun to set in at your house, it’s time to dig deep into your parenting arsenal and pull out some indoor family fun.
Before the warmth of spring invites us back outside, and while gatherings and obligations may be less frequent, make the most of these last weeks of winter. Here are a few simple ideas to combat the winter blahs.
Max Out Your Library Card
Get a large and sturdy tote bag or two and take the kids to the library. Allow them to take out the maximum number of books allowed, then tote your treasure home, spread the books out, and enjoy that magical peace that tends to follow a fruitful trip to the library.
Low-volume classical music and some easy finger snacks might just make this a perfect afternoon or evening.
Cook or Bake Together
Involve your children in cooking up warm, winter comfort foods. Dishes like chili, soup, stew, pot roast, or a giant pot of spaghetti, accompanied by freshly baked bread or biscuits, and chocolate chip cookies would take the doldrums out of any winter day.
Zena Goldman, a mom of two girls from Nottingham, England, said, “Our favorite go-to activity when it’s cold outside is baking cupcakes together. The kids love cooking and it’s such a fun and simple way to spend quality time together when we are stuck indoors.”
“Baking cakes cheers everyone up too, as the reward of a sprinkle-covered sweet treat at the end of it is enough to put a smile on everyone’s faces,” she added. “The kids are so proud that they made something for everyone and there’s no denying that we slipped in teaching them some valuable cooking skills.”
Of course, cooking or baking brilliantly double as both family time and meal prep. Win!
Unplug from all devices and unbox a favorite board game to enjoy. Pair with snacks and enjoy focused family time.
Jim Wasserman, a dad of two (now grown) boys from Dallas, Texas, shared his family’s creative take on game night: “Our real challenge was our older son, Ben, who has ADHD. A day indoors meant him bouncing and crashing off of things.”
“So, we tapped into his love of reading and imagination. We would challenge Ben to read a book, or use a book he had just read, and then make a board game for us to play as a family.”
“The games were sometimes confusing and hard to play, but that just made us laugh all the more,” he said. Ben fell in love with this art. He went on to design some board games and win awards at the school districts invention conventions.”
Wasserman added, “He’s now a software developer, and I can’t help but think he—and we—owe it all to bad weather days.”
Make movie night an event with themed decor and snacks. “I like to do movie night themes,” Lisa Lightner, a mom of two boys in Avondale, Pennsylvania, told me. “So if we’re going to watch ‘Rocky,’ we’d have all local Philly-inspired items. Or pepperoni pizza to go with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.”
Allow the kids to help in the night’s prep and then enjoy the fruits of your creativity together as a family.
Invitation to Craft
You know those craft supplies that you put on hard-to-reach shelves? The clay, the paint, the glitter? It’s time to take a deep breath and let the beautiful mess that comes from little hands creating ensue.
At the dining room table, in the playroom, or even spread out on the floor, lay down some cloths, give each child a smock or apron, and bring out the craft supplies. Kids cannot resist an array of papers, paints, clay, glue, glitter, pencils, crayons, googly eyes, pom-poms, pipe cleaners … all the things.
Set aside a specific location for finished works to dry. Play some instrumental tunes for enhanced focus. Embrace the beauty of the mess.
No time for a mess? Lightner also suggested adult coloring books. “It’s calming and we can all sit at the kitchen table and chat while working on our designs,” she said.
Hide and Seek
Indoor fun doesn’t have to be elaborate. Especially if you’ve got young children, a game of hide-and-seek might be just the underrated solution to cabin fever you’ve been looking for.
Brenda Kosciuk, a mom of two young girls from Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, said, “Our current family favorite activity is to play hide-and-seek in the dark in the evening. My kids are obsessed with this game—we’ve literally played it every night for the past three weeks. My husband and I actually have fun with this too. We set up distractions to keep the kids on their toes,” she said. “I also love this game because it’s helping my 3-year-old get over her fear of the dark.”