Cabin Fever Remedies for Families

January 20, 2021

Cabin fever has taken on a whole new dimension for most of us this past year. You probably need no telling that it can be extra tough for our cooped-up kids.

With distance learning and so much unavoidable screentime, kids aren’t releasing as much excess energy and are extra vulnerable to the restless, edgy feeling of cabin fever. More often than not, the result is whining, crying and sibling fights. Little ones are still learning to regulate their emotions, so it’s no surprise that this year may have created more meltdowns than usual.

Before this gets too out of control, it’s time to combat those cabin fever blues. The ship isn’t sinking after all…it’s just a little off-course. Here’s some quick tips to keep the whole crew sane and happy!


Get moving

Weather permitting, the whole family needs to get outside the house for some fresh air and vitamin D. The beauty of living in Columbia is just how many options we have to do so, whether it’s a walk or a bike ride. If it’s just too cold or rainy to get the kids out, encourage an indoor exercise break. Last week’s blog post is full of inspiration for staying active inside, from creating a boot camp challenge to yoga freeze tag.

And if all else fails, clear a space, turn on some music and host a freestyle dance session for you and the kids. The important thing is to shift the energy…and physical movement is the best way to make the shift!


Get crafty

Arts and crafts are the ultimate form of self-expression, and a great way to spark some joy during these tough times. Liz Henzey, Columbia Art Center Director, shares some of her favorite kid-approved art supplies to have on hand:

  • Tempera paints
  • White and colored construction paper
  • Paint brushes
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Watercolors
  • White glue
  • Tape
  • Stickers
  • Blunt tip scissors
  • Recyclables and found objects are also fantastic for art projects! That includes cardboard boxes and paper tubes, plastic container lids, egg cartons and magazines.
  • Incorporating nature – like leaves, stones and twigs – is also a great option!

There are a million ideas out there, from downloading coloring pages online to simply painting rocks. The real goal is to get your artist-in-training engaged and let those little imaginations run wild.


Teach life skills (in a fun way)

It’s safe to say your family is spending more time at home than ever, which means it’s a unique time to teach them important life skills.

Entice the kids to help out around the house…but make it interesting! Cooking with the kids can be a great family activity, and it’s a way to give them some impromptu math and science lessons. It doesn’t matter if you are making peanut butter sandwiches or Japanese soufflé pancakes. Now is the perfect time to introduce your mini chef to the joys of cooking.

A child that’s never been inclined to clean might not mind so much if you can make it rewarding or fun. Whether that’s making a high-energy cleaning playlist together, turning laundry into a slam dunk competition or creating a family challenge, a little playfulness can change their entire perception of “chores.”

Nurture a Love of Reading

Not being able to see their friends regularly is one of the hardest aspects of the pandemic for school-age kids. The beauty of reading is that it offers a way to feel less lonely — and gives kids a glimpse of characters’ overcoming tough situations with resilience to boot. Your child can learn that they too have the strength to withstand obstacles, and perhaps even gain a glimmer of hope that there’s a happy ending in sight.

No matter what age your kids are, it’s always a great idea to have lots of reading options on hand for them.

Take Virtual Tours

So, field trips and vacations are limited. But in these challenging times, technology is offering lots of potential reprieves.

Did you know you can take your kids to the International Space Station without leaving home? You can go to a beach resort in the Maldives via a YouTube video. Or visit all the U.S. National Parks with Google Earth. And you and the kids can walk through New York’s Central Park or take a tour through almost every great museum in the world.

Perhaps start a challenge to see who can find the coolest virtual experience! Or, start a family bucket list to plan all the awesome stuff you’ll do together when it’s safe to do so. Make it as far-out (visit every continent!) or local (find the best pizza in Columbia!) as you wish.


Scribe It Out

The past year has been like any other, and everyone has been impacted in different ways by the upheaval.

Encouraging your kids to write stories or keep diaries helps them harness their creativity and process their emotions. Reading and writing also go hand in hand; writing more is a perfect way to get them to read more. Plus, it will just be plain cool for them to look back on in the future when we reflect on this unprecedented time.You never know just how much your little ones may have to say!

If the inspiration isn’t flowing, provide them with some fun prompts, such as:

  • Imagine your life in 10 years. What will you be doing?
  • If you won the lottery, what would you do and why?
  • Write a story about what it would be like to wake up with a mermaid tail (or shark fin, ability to fly, supersonic powers, etc.)
  • What would your first move be if you became president?
  • How would your life be different with a pet dinosaur?
  • What would your dream house be like?

Finally, if your child is super new to writing, you can provide them with a bunch of stickers and have them create a “sticker story.” They’ll have a blast inventing new worlds and creating awesome characters!

For more family-friendly tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.

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