Anyone starting to feel the tell-tale signs that come along with the cooler temperatures. An ache in your bones, a niggling in the back of your brain, the growing sensation that you might have to scream soon? Dr. Lori can diagnose your situation, it's the early stages of a very common preschool Mom malady -
noun: extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time
If you're not feeling it yet, file this RX for future use. And don't think you southern moms are off the hook, hurricanes are coming and the flu germ is no respecter of persons. If you aren't feeling the symptoms, chances are good that one of your little people will come down with cabin fever and if you don't deal with it quickly, it'll spread like wildfire. Moms everywhere need to be ready for an outbreak.
I learned the two most effective treatments for cabin fever from Pa Ingalls. Remember the year they got snowed in at Christmas and Mr. Edwards braved the blizzard to bring gifts? After he thawed out, Mr. Edwards told stories and then they ended the night dancing to Pa's fiddle.
"Laughter and sweat are two great cures to cabin fever."
Here are a few ideas to get your cabin fever medicine cabinet stocked - it would be awesome if you-all added your own ideas in the comment section below!
1. Grumpy Old Troll - This is the Smith family version of the Tickling Game. Dad or Mom hides around a corner or behind the couch on their hands and knees, growling and snorting. In theory, the kids' goal is to run past the Grumpy Old Troll without getting caught, but really everybody wants to get caught and tickled by the Troll. The Troll tickles until a sibling comes to the rescue or you fear someone will wet their pants and ruin the fun. Running and giggling, can't beat that.
2. Active Games - Two games to put on the gift idea list for Grandma are Cranium Hullabaloo and Elefun. Both of these games get little bodies moving and provide reasons to laugh.
3. Popsicles in the Bathtub - When I started doing this with my kids they thought I was the most fun mom around. In reality, I was just trying to contain the drippy messiness of popsicles into a place easy to clean. Popsicles with every bath became a ritual in our house over a decade ago. It's known to many a Florida-kid babysitter. Don't put my kid in a bathtub without a popsicle close by or they'll feel like you ripped them off!
4. Playdough - Every Christmas stocking should have a fresh batch of playdough so that you can let your kids spend a whole morning at the table with rolling pins, forks, butter knives, and cookie cutters. Soaking up that smell is one of the rites of passage in childhood. (My favorite time to say "yes" to playdough is just before I was planning to sweep and mop!)
5. Dining Room Chair Train - When you move all the dining room chairs in order to sweep and mop, make a big deal about setting up all the chairs into a train for the kids to play on while you work. They can bring all their favorite stuffed animals with them as they travel the world.
6. Sock Surfing - That clean floor is shiny and just begging for some sock surfing. Fuzzy slipper socks are the best for this! You can have all kinds of contests: farthest slide, fanciest slide, backward spin slide - whatever. Just watch out for any forehead-height counter corners. A trip to the ER for stitches takes a lot of the fun out of an afternoon of sock surfing!
7. Homemade Zoo - My kids grew up in the years of Beanie Babies. Those things seemed to multiply in dark corners and there were more of them every morning when we woke up. My kids redeemed the Beanie Baby craze in my eyes by making up the brilliant activity of playing zoo. They set the animals up in "cages" or "habitats" all around the house - under a coffee table, sticking out of the couch cushions, wherever! And then my little zookeepers cared for them all day. They fed them, exercised them, took them to the doctor, and just let their imagination run.
8. Hot Wheels Tracks - You don't have to be a preschool boy to appreciate the appeal of Hot Wheels. Spare change you find in your couch crevices can buy a few cars. These cars can be played with alone on the kitchen floor or with the help of a Hot Wheels track. Putting that car through a loop-d-loop can be exciting for a much longer time than you would think. And the motorized tracks that send the cars blazing around the course are mesmerizing!
9. Exercise - Yoga and Zumba are the hip ways for moms to work out today, but in my day it was Billy Blanks and the famous Tae Bo workouts. On rainy, cooped up days, I'd pop a tape in the VCR and the boys and I threw jabs and punches all morning long.
10. Dance - You don't have to confine your dance parties to kids' music and scheduled moments. Rock it out whenever the mood hits and use the opportunity to introduce your little people to some classic music from your day. My kids have all learned at least one poorly interpreted moves from my Thriller routine and watched their Dad do the Worm across the kitchen floor - it's part of being a Florida. And sing together. Loudly. Whether you know the words or not. Gestures and hand motions are always a plus. Nobody's too young to dance... or be caught on video for future family fun moments!
11. Make Cookies - This is another good thing to do the same morning of the day you're planning to clean floors. Knowing the mess will be short-lived helps you not twitch as they "do it themselves" and spill half of the sugar across the floor. Baking is the ultimate feel-good experience if you can un-grit your teeth and forget about the mess. It makes the house smell yummy and you feel like you are winning at life.
12. Doing Dishes - Push a chair up the kitchen sink, strip the kid down to his diaper or undies, fill the sink with warm water and Tupperware, and give him a sponge. Kids will stand at the sink for-ever. The floor underneath them will be mopped clean from all they spill when they are done!
13. Dora - Stop beating yourself up about turning on the tv every once and a while, and don't think it always has to be educational. If a show makes your toddler belly laugh, it's as worthy as Little Einsteins in my book. Check out some of the old slap-stick cartoons on youtube like Tom & Jerry or Looney Tunes! I bet you could still find VHS tapes of the original Veggie Tales in your church library too! I've taken some great rainy day naps snuggled up on the couch with a warm little person with the music of their laughter in my ears.
You don't need a lot of space or a lot of money to cure cabin fever, Mommas. There's fun to be had within your 4 small walls and with whatever energy you have to offer. You just need to be strategic about and sometimes embrace the mess that comes along with fun. And know that naptime is a'comin!
Now it's your turn! What cures for cabin fever do you have to share with your fellow sufferers??