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I used to love the horrible weather that comes with winter. Before I had kids, I’d spend the colder months inside at home as much as possible…preferably underneath a blanket, sipping a hot beverage. But I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve noticed that right around mid-winter is prime time for my kids to begin feeling cooped up. They start whining about boredom. Then they run around the house squealing, laughing, and screaming. Soon after, somebody throws a toy or refuses to share, and before I know it, my kids are spending their days in a state of perpetual meltdown.

I might think that staying in all winter is cozy and relaxing, but my kids don’t, and if they aren’t happy, well, nobody’s happy. So whether you and your kids have been stuck inside due to illness, sub-zero temps, or a combination of the two, I thought I’d share my favorite ways to keep things fun for our kids this time of year. I’m reminding myself of these simple ideas because I really need them right now!

My Favorite Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

Rearrange Furniture

My first tip might sound a bit odd, but taking down the Christmas tree and moving a few pieces of furniture really made my kids feel like we were in a new, exciting space. I also love to pull out the couches from the wall so they have a tunnel to play in. Moving furniture around, either for a day or indefinitely, works wonders in any room. Bonus points for creating a better-functioning space for your kids to play in.

Play Indoor Games

If I’m not careful, we’ll end up playing cops and robbers most of the time, or using the same dolls and Legos every single day. Even if it’s what my kids ask for, I know from experience that their go-to activities are going to get old. So here are a few ideas for indoor games that will keep your kiddos active and (hopefully) engaged. Change it up every day!

  • Peek-a-boo or hide and seek
  • hide and seek with toys (hide a toy for the kids to find)
  • Simon says
  • Red light, green light
  • Duck duck goose
  • Tag or freeze tag
  • Hot potato
  • Silly Dance Contest – we dance along to Jim Gill. You can find all his silly videos here.

Fun Indoor Activities

I admit it—the pull of getting things done around the house sometimes keeps me from intentionally creating activities for my kids. Here are a few simple ideas that I need to reinstate right about now.

  • Indoor picnic—Eat snacks or lunch over a plastic tablecloth in the living room.
  • Baking—I can’t seem to stop talking about it, but we do have fun with simple baking projects, even if they aren’t successful.
  • Board games—Sylvie is still too young, but Kai can play all kinds of games at this point!
  • Car races—The kids pick a vehicle, we count to three (as best as we can), and set them loose!
  • Crafts—Sometimes you just need a little Pinterest in your life. I love grabbing simple craft ideas there!
  • Water play—If you don’t mind the mess, set up some bowls, cups, spoons, funnels, and fill them with water. Put everything on a cookie sheet, one per child, and set them loose! An alternative to this is having a play-focused bath with special toys, or giving them a few plastic toys to wash in the sink.

Build Forts and Set up Tents

Another way to make your home feel like a different place is to build forts! I don’t know who wouldn’t love a creative, cozy little space to relax in, and my kids are no exception. Even if you have a tent set up in your kids’ rooms, I found that moving it around helps them enjoy it so much more for the day.

My husband is a fort-building master, and my kids will spend all day playing and pretending and even reading inside their forts. For a cozy day in, you can’t go wrong with a fort!

Dress Up

Dressing in costumes really sparks my kids’ imagination. Last week, we pretended we were at a ball, and Sylvie dressed up as Cinderella. I played the music from the Disney movie, and Sylvie danced while Kai pretended to sneak into the castle to steal jewels. (Sometimes you just can’t get away from their favorite games, huh?) I know that some preschoolers love dressing up and do it constantly, but if your costumes are tucked away or you haven’t done it in awhile, break them out and see what happens!

Warm Up the Car and Get Out of the House

I know this tip is kind of cheating. If there’s a good reason you’re stuck inside, this won’t apply to you. For me, though, if it’s cold, I’m tempted to stay inside and not even try to get out of the house. I trick myself by running out to warm up the car. It’s a lot easier to go have an adventure (even if it’s just running errands) when I know a warm car is waiting for us.

 

Exercise

It didn’t use to occur to me to exercise with my kids. I’d do it after they were in bed or during naps, like it was some sort of secret ritual. I’m so glad I finally figured out that my kids need some time to focus on movement and activity, and it’s also great when they can see me taking care of my body too. Now my kids are completely prepared for my yoga times, and they even request specific videos. (Caroline Williams’ yoga practice in Scotland is my son’s favorite because of the occasional sheep appearance!) Even if they aren’t doing everything I do, they join in when they can and play around me, and you know what? It’s working for us!

Rotate Toys

I saved my most important tip for last. Tuck away the toys they aren’t using. Right now I’m working on throwing out our baby toys, and you can see what happened in the process. My preschoolers decided they love blocks once again.

This didn’t last long, but if your kids have toys that are engaging and age-appropriate but haven’t been used in awhile, put almost all of them away. Then rotate them out, and it’ll be like Christmas every week!

How do you beat cabin fever? I hope you’re enjoying this season!

Beating Cabin Fever: How to keep kids happy indoors

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4 comments on “Beating Cabin Fever: Keeping Kids Happy Indoors”

  1. Great ideas, Laura. We’ve been stuck inside a lot lately because of rain.
    My kids love indoor picnics! Thanks for the tip about warming up the car–this might make it easier on us.

  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful ideas!! We are really feeling the cabin fever around here. We can usually work through it, but this year it is affecting both of our moods and our schooling! This year is so much different because we are living in a camper while we finish our home. And while the hubby goes to work and the middle child goes to high school. MK and I are at home. I joked that it is like living in a bedroom all day! Especially when it is cold and then rainy!

    We are going to take full advantage of the slightly warmer days, and maybe try to get out a little more. Maybe head to the library and do school. Try out some extra board games and maybe some art.

    Thanks again for the inspiration!! 🙂

    Hopping over from #MommyMoments

    Blessings,

    Amy

    Than

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