9 Ways to Fight Cabin Fever on the Cheap and Green

I live in Vermont. Tonight it is going to be 20 below zero, and it has been like this for a week.  It’s the kind of cold that makes your eye sockets sore as you run from the car inside. Jeans almost freeze, and stiffly press against your thighs. Any exposed flesh is sore and tingly within minutes. Not so great for our famed skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing.

This is the the time of year that parents and children can go completely stir crazy. Days of being inside, cooped up, wear on everyone. Discipline problems crop up more than often then usual (ah, all day, it seems), and my fuse is shorter as well. We need to GET OUT! But not spend money (or much of it, anyway).

So here is a list of 9 ways to fight said cabin fever on the cheap and green. Please add your ideas in the comments as well.

1. Visit your local library. Even if you just go and hang out and read with your kids, it gets you all out of the house and surrounded by books. Both are good for clearing the mind and supporting reading. If your library has a weekly story hour with an activity, even better.

2. Attend a local elementary school or high school sports event. They are free, and fun for the kids to watch and learn about a sport. Gymnastics and basketball are both in season right now, and are very lively and engaging for kids. I just took my girls to a basketball game tonight. They loved watching how the game worked and the older kids in action.

3. Arrange a weekly meal swap or share with another family. With close friends, take turns hosting a kid friendly dinner. Nothing fancy, no serious prep, just a good meal to share. Your kids can help make it, and you can all look forward to the next week when you won’t have to cook and can get out of the house.

4. Visit a child friendly coffee house in your area, just for a change of scenery. It’s even better if you visit during an open mic session, or a poetry reading. Just the other day I took the girls to a tea house. We sat on the floor on pillows and had fancy tea with a few small hand-crafted treats. They loved it and I was happy to get out of the house and visit a local business I’d always wanted to.

5. Look for wide open play spaces. Many towns have weekly play groups of sessions at recreation centers or gyms. These can cost a few bucks a session, but having children engage in physical play (especially when it has been absent) can do  a world of good for you and your kids. You can chat with other parents, and know that a nap (or a better attitude) will be the result of high energy floor play for your little one.

6. Find free music. Many coffee houses and churches have free (or low cost) music events regularly. Hearing live music has a profoundly positive effect on my mood and can pull even the most pessimistic toddler into a better state of mind. 
7. Go see art. Seek out color. I know here in Vermont, during winter, my eyes long for color — bright colors they are starved of in nature for many months. Find an art exhibit at a local gallery to check out with the kids. Of course you’ll need to remind them not to touch or blast through the place like a tornado, but a brief visit to a gallery, followed by hot chocolate somewhere can stimulate the imagination of everyone. 
8. Pretend you are a tourist in your town. I bet you haven’t visited all the interesting and funky shops in your area. I know I haven’t. There are lots of places to explore. And while some may be more kid friendly then others, getting out to explore some new places just for the fun of it feels different and refreshing. 
9. Visit museums and historical centers, even ones you think may be a bit boring for your child. You never know what may spark an interest, or motivate a new and different conversation. Have an open mind and see what there is to learn with your kids. 
And be sure to check your local paper’s community calendar. There are always random interesting activities happening that you can make into an outing with your children. The idea is to be creative and not be intimidated by just showing up and checking something out.

Stay warm! How do you prevent cabin fever?

image: by sirwiseowl on Flickr under CC.

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