Combating cabin fever: ways to keep your kids busy indoors

Combating cabin fever: ways to keep your kids busy indoors

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SALT LAKE CITY — “Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today.”

If you're like me, the past few weeks of below-freezing temps have made you feel like you're in the movie “Groundhog Day.” You wake up every morning to the same, freezing cold temperatures, and you wonder if winter is ever going to end.

Bill Murray put it best in the film when he said, “It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be gray, and it's gonna last you the rest of your life.”

OK, maybe not the rest of your life. However, being that we live in a state that is known for “the greatest snow on earth” — and also the fact that winter, technically, only just began a few short weeks ago — we need to come to terms with the fact that the cold weather is here to stay for a little while longer.

As a mother of young kids, this is easier said than done. It seems as if, overnight, we went from playing outside all day in the warm sun to spending day and night inside, staring out the window at the earth that once was. And, if you're anything like me, finding ways to combat this thing called “cabin fever” seems downright impossible.

Furthermore, because I am admittedly a “summer mom” who prefers my skies blue, my sun up before I am, and my air conditioning on, I enlisted the help of some of my creative and fun mom friends. Here are some fun ideas on how to combat cabin fever:

  1. Melinda: “We brainstorm with the kids all the things they would like to do at home and out. We then put the ideas in a jar, and when the kids are bored (we) pull one of the ideas out of the jar and do whatever activity it says. It works great!”
  2. Mary: We like making movies or plays using the iPad, though any camera would do fine. We have them make a script, which is basically just an outline. The acting out of the script has to be practiced at least three times before mom will record it; that way they're telling a story and not just waving their toys in front of the camera. We have made some great little movies, and even more memories.”
  3. Sadie: “We love to do science experiments — simple ones that don't take a ton of preparation, but that are super fun. Art project are always easy, and forts are a must!”
  4. Chelsea: “I take them into the big garage at the bottom of our condo building and have them do "races" back and forth. Ten minutes of that, and they're all worn out and happy to go back to quiet activities in the house. Any kind of physical activity usually gets them past the slump feeling.”Necia: “Bring snow in on a cookie sheet and use a spray bottle with food coloring to brighten it up. The kids love it!”
  5. Trina: “We go for a drive, anywhere. I will also take them to go eat lunch at a new town, etc. The only way to cure cabin fever is to get out of the cabin.”

These are some great ideas, and I can't wait to try them in the coming weeks and months with my little campers. However, I would like to add two things that I think are key in getting through the long, winter days:

Let your kids play without you. As fun as it may be, and as wonderful as you may feel to have created that perfect craft, visited that wonderful museum or facilitated that marvelous moment with your kids, sometimes we adults get in the way of allowing our children to explore on their own.

Some of the best times I have had are when I have watched my kids go from being utterly bored one minute to sliding down the stairs in sleeping bags or sending toys sailing down the treadmill the next. These are the times when I have seen them smile the widest, heard them laugh the hardest, and I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Last, but not least: Make time for you. We've all heard the saying, “Happy mom, happy home.” Sometimes — OK, most of the time — the way the kids act is completely dependent on the way mom feels. If you're feeling cooped, they will, too. Allow yourself time to do the things you need to allow for the “cabin” to turn back into a home.

So, tomorrow morning, when you wake up to that “Sonny and Cher” song playing on your alarm clock, rise and shine, because it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be gray, but it could be the best day of your life.

Arianne Brown is a graduate from Southern Utah University, mother to five young kids and an avid runner. Contact her at, follow her on twitter @arimom5, or check out her blog at

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