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10 Simple Ideas for Surviving Cabin Fever

Along with winter and the end of the holidays, things start feeling really depressing for me each year.

I'm cold and summer seems way to far away, the dreariness makes me tired, my kids have cabin fever because they are (a) either sick or (b) out of school because of snow, and the sun goes down around 4:45pm. So your morning is really the only time to run errands or get out before the temperature drops again. My kids are waking up while it's dark in the morning and I really just want to crawl in bed and sleep all day. Many days the kids and I never make it out of pajamas because I just can't quite get it together. Sounds so pathetic when I write it out like this, but it's the truth.

And we survive. As Maddox would say, "This is how we DO it!" ;) Here are my 10 best activities for these cold/sick/snowy months:

1. Get some stamps & ink. I bought this Melissa & Doug Deluxe Alphabet Stamp Set of the entire alphabet (uppercase & lowercase plus punctuation) from Homegoods back in the summer and just now gave it to them. They already had a Melissa & Doug Vehicle Stamp Set , but I felt that Maddox would enjoy stamping words he knows with these. Maggie can work on her alphabet at the same time! They BOTH love it. Maggie ends up stamping all over herself, but I don't really care. She's happy. Maddox is happy. I'M HAPPY.

2. Find a chalkboard. Maddox got this Mala Easel for Christmas ($14.99 at Ikea) and of course, they both are digging it. There is a dry erase board on the other side and a paper roll which I haven't even set up for them yet. But chalk! What kid doesn't love chalk?!


3. Line up baby dolls. ;) Okay, so this is something very OCD that Maggie does. She lines up everything veeeeerrrrry perfectly including DVDs, Matchbox cars, her babies, plastic animals, cards...you name it, she organizes it. It bought me 20 minutes of time so I'm including it here. Plus, I love these pics of my old baby dolls. (Did anyone else have this yellow Honey Doll back in the late 70's? Maddox named it Alex.)

4. We watch birds. It's maybe more me that watches them and am continuously saying "Hey guys, hurry...look at the birds over there!!!" They humor me and come running and stand at the windows and laugh with me and scare the birds away in doing so. It's all fun. We are lucky enough to have this amazing sun room on the back of our house that is an overlook down into a little valley and the mountains and sunset beyond. There is a 100-acre farm (I've been told that's the size) behind us and that's pretty much it! They sell produce and Chad and Maddox have walked down before to bring vegetables home. It is beautiful and one of my favorite places to sit with the kids. We hear owls at night, horses, wild turkeys come running through our street and back yards, and I'm thankful for this place. We can look out all the windows and see thousands of birds landing in the trees above us while we sit cozily on our pumpkin colored sofa. :)

5. We take photos. My kids love nothing more than for me to round them up into the sunroom (where the light is totally amazing) and take hundreds of photos of them. Ha! Yeah, right. They don't love it, but Maddox is a little poser and so photogenic and I pretty much finish with him quickly and chase his sister around trying to get a non-blurry photo. But it kills time and I sometimes catch some great photos or the perfect expressions that mean so much to me for this season in our lives.

6. Legos. Legos! LEGOS!!! How did we live before Maddox started Lego-ing at the ripe age of 3? I'll never know. Oh wait. He used to nap. But napping had stopped by that age, so I owe the makers of Lego a big Thank You. Creative, Imaginative, QUIET play is perfect. For all of us actually. Maggie loves building little creations and I love helping if they need it. And he learns to help her if I can't.

7. Crayons! Maddox had never seen a Crayola 64 Pack before (Remember getting your first pack for a school year? So magical!) and I had purchased about 5 packs in the summer for about $2.50 each on a great sale. So I brought these out last week during Maggie's naptime. These are just for him and he loves taking his time picking out just the right color.

8. Paints! Again, these are mostly reserved for a quiet, creative play just for Maddox while his sister naps. Sometimes I will let her paint as well, but she's another story. I have to sit right by her side if she has any writing utensil because she will always sneak away and start writing on a non-Amanda-approved surface. No fail.  Blank paper, paint and a paintbrush = perfect creation! We bought this Mala Paint Box with paints, colored pencils, and chunky crayons from Ikea. (So, maybe Joy Nudd and I went a little nuts in the kid's section at Ikea on our Girl's weekend back in September? It's all so inexpensive, you just can't help yourself!)

9. We have tea parties and play in Maggie's kitchen. I have been so thankful for her new kitchen and Maddox's new play store since Christmas! (I will write more on these two items later.) We put these in the sunroom so they are right by my kitchen. I can keep an eye on them and hear them while they play. Their wooden table is in there with their 2 red wooden chairs and they buy from each other, take it to the kitchen, "cook" a meal and serve it on the dishes at their table. It's the cutest thing I've seen in a long time. And hearing the one-sided dialogue of Maddox to Maggie is so precious. (You think I could put a wire on him and record it all? If only....)

10. Just play. :) These kids love nothing more than for me to get down in the floor with them and snuggle, wrestle, twirl in the air, and all the other number of things you can still do with a 30-35 lb child. And watching them giggle and laugh out loud over it makes it even better. They are much more well-behaved after they receive that close attention and contact so it's a win-win for all of us.

Yesterday I took a "Yes Day."

I have been so busy for a month with cleaning, making food, buying gifts, planning meals, entertaining, planning parties, having parties, etc, that I have been saying No a lot. And it has made me sad and regretful and their attitudes have been showing the effects of it. Sunday, we had Maggie's birthday party (pics to follow this week!) and since I had nothing pressing for this weekend, I gave myself a Yes Day with them.

Almost every time they asked me to play something, I tried to say YES! I made waffles & eggs for dinner last night because Maddox always asks and I always say no, but not this time! I didn't do laundry, I didn't do dishes, I didn't clean one single thing. I took time to bathe both of them, brush their teeth, clip their fingernails/toenails, lotion up their poor dry winter skin and then sit and snuggle with them before bed a little more than I normally take the time to do. They loved every second. They were pleasant ALL DAY. Of course, I can't do this every day, but I'm wanting to make a point to do more "Yes" moments. :)

And now to my soapbox: CREATIVE PLAY. I can not stress to you enough the importance of this. Don't buy the gadgets. Don't buy the battery operated toys. Give the kids the opportunity to entertain themselves. I see so many kids that get so bored, so quickly with all the gadgets they have at home and it's really because they have forgotten how to think on their own. I love watching them imitate adult tasks at home like cooking, cleaning, dialogue, and then building things and making up games! Maddox literally makes up his own games with any little thing he finds. A piece of string, a bouncy ball, a frisbee...anything can be anything in their minds. Just give them the chance. We're trying to keep the innocence in this house, while pushing their minds educationally in ways we find appropriate.

I'm not saying I'm perfect at this. If I need a nap desperately when Maggie is sleeping, I will set Maddox up with a computer game and let him play for a little while. Or watch a show (which I'm soooo particular about.) But in reality, the TV only comes on when she's napping or if Chad is not here and I need a quick shower. I don't turn on the TV for myself unless they are both in bed. They don't ever see me watching it. I'll step off the soapbox now.

So, I hope you enjoyed the ideas for when your kids are driving you nuts with being at home for days on end...and the photos. Always the photos. ;)


Linda Rose said...

This is great Amanda. I've been home for 4 days now. No kids to keep busy. Just me. But I find lots to do. Cooking, cleaning, writing, reading, painting. Love all your great photos. Beautiful children. I'm glad you cherish your time with them.

Anonymous said...

such good ideas and we do them all...not stamps but we do cutting and Addy loves to stringing buttons...Cindy and my grandma had them for us and now i have passed them on to Addy....and she loves to listen to the uncle Aurthur story tapes...yup i have a tape player...you are such a great mom Amanda,keep it up and thanks for the pictures so fun looking at your cute family grow up! christy black

Kimberly June said...

This is so adorable! What kind of camera do you have? These are some great photos. I feel the same way in the winter.. but luckily the sun always comes back out :) You seem like such a great mother to those little Carlson kids.. Chad is a lucky man.

-Kimberly June

Anonymous said...

Photos look great--love the shot with the bird and the window--so cool! And the photos of Maggie in the sunroom. Keep it up! Sarah

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