The winter here in Iowa has been pretty brutal. Or at least that’s what I hear from non-stay-at-homers who actually have to get out in the weather. It’s true, the kids and I have pretty much spent the winter indoors, sheltered from sub-zero temperatures and blowing snow. So when I see memes on Facebook that say things like, “The air hurts my face. Why am I living in a place where the air hurts my face?” or “Just finished shoveling the driveway. Better go shovel the driveway,” I probably laugh a little bit harder than the guy who’s out there with a ski mask and a snow blower.
I don’t know whether to feel bad about my warm and sheltered stay-at-home privilege or whether to feel just plain wise for it, but either way, I can still claim that I’m experiencing the harsh elements in my own right. It’s called having four young children cooped up in the house because it’s too cold to play outside. (And this is where my fellow homeschooling moms begin nodding their heads in understanding agreement.)
Fortunately, we’ve found a few keys to keeping the cabin fever at bay.
1. Embracing Opportunities for (Indoor) Physical Activity
Kids need to run. When they can’t do it outside, they find a way to do it inside. In my house, that usually translates to four kids racing through the living room and kitchen, making so much noise I can’t even think. I’m okay with that, but only to a certain point. (There is only so much loud commotion this momma can handle.) That’s where our outings for indoor physical activity become important. In addition to our weekly homeschool P.E. class and midweek church activities that give the kids a chance for exercise, all of our kids have a sporting practice each week where they can expel pent-up energy. We also try to attend one Des Moines Moms Blog play date each month, and during the wintertime, these often revolve around giving the kids an indoor place to run and play. What an invaluable outlet!
2. Encouraging Creative Play
My kids have a lot of nice toys that give them hours of enjoyment, but going into this winter, I knew I wanted to equip them with some hands-on activities that would engage them in a productive sort of way. We were thrilled when they received Rainbow Loom® and Bandaloom™ kits for Christmas. We knew they’d be a hit, but we didn’t realize they would be THE activity of the season. All four of my kids spend hours out of their days, several days a week, making little rubberband creations. Not only does it keep them busy and happy, but it also gives them a creative outlet and a bonding opportunity as they sit and “loom” together. And thanks to YouTube and the iPad, they can work independently with little to no help from me.
3. Extending Permission for Gaming
I tend to say no a lot when it comes to electronic devices. My son gets to play on his iPod a few hours a week, and my daughters play on our tablets even less than that–most weeks, not at all. But I do realize that kids need an outlet for adventure, especially when they’re trapped in the house, so I have loosened my grip on gaming control some this winter. Instead of conceding to more time on the handheld devices, however, we opt for the more interactive and group-play nature of the Wii U. “Santa” gave our family Disney Infinity for the Wii U this Christmas, and the kids have enjoyed their hours spent together, adventuring through the infinite possibilities the game affords.