I love winter–the fresh beauty of glittering snow, warm soups and long, cozy evenings in front of the fire. But even so, being cooped up in the house can take its toll. With six of us in a relatively small space, it takes some effort to fight off that dreaded winter malady: cabin fever.
The good news is, cabin fever is easily prevented or cured, and it doesnâ€™t require a high-tech or expensive solution. If it strikes your household, here are eleven simple remedies you may want to try.
1. Get outdoors! Build a snowman, take a walk, sled or ice skate. Sending children outdoors for at least a few minutes each day will make a huge difference in their attitudes. Welcome them back in with steaming mugs of hot chocolate or hot cider.
2. Watch the birds. Put out a feeder, pull up a chair and watch the show. Winter is a perfect time to learn to identify birds, and all you need to get started is a good field guide. Have each family member start their own bird list. Once you become proficient, visit a nature center or park add to your list.
3. Fun and games. Whether itâ€™s Dutch Blitz, Candyland, Monopoly or charades, a good family game will build relationships and provide life lessons as well. For even more fun, invite some friends over to join you.
4. Read aloud. One of our familyâ€™s favorite winter traditions is to gather around the fire each evening, with candles or soft background lighting to set the mood, and listen to stories that take us far away from frigid Ohio. Rarely does read-aloud time end without at least one child piteously pleading, â€œCanâ€™t we read just one more chapter, please?â€
Some of our favorites are books by Dr. Seuss, Sandra Boynton, and Margaret Wise Brown for the younger set; Little House on the Prairie, Narnia and Lord of the Rings for older kids and adults. If you like adventure, try Swiss Family Robinson, Peter Pan (the original) or The Princess Bride.
5. Gather inspiration for the year ahead. Winter is the time to gather nuggets of country wisdom, be inspired by life on an Amish farm, or (warning: shameless plug ahead) learn to be a locavore. Or pop in a DVD on cold-framing, wood heating or deer butchering. (Itâ€™s not low-tech, but at least itâ€™s constructive!)
6. Put what youâ€™ve learned into practice. Make candles, cheese, soap or yogurt. Try your hand at woodworking or small engine repair. Teach yourself to knit, crochet or spin. If youâ€™ve already mastered these skills, consider teaching them to others.
7. Plan next yearâ€™s garden. Lehman’s carries heirloom seeds that you can save from year to year. Let the kids plan their own little garden plotsâ€”perhaps they will want to choose a theme, like giant veggies or flowers, a pizza garden, etc. â€˜Tis the season to dream big. You can always give away those excess zucchinisâ€¦right?
8. If the kids are too grouchy to play together, pull out a few blankets. Put one kid on each blanket. Let them read or play quietlyâ€”as long as theyâ€™re on the blanket and not touching each other. This sounds like a punishment, but my kids think itâ€™s great fun. Alternatively, use those blankets and a few kitchen chairs to build tents. Make indoor sâ€™mores to complete the camping experience.
9. Grow something. Sprouts are easy to grow and donâ€™t even need any light. Herbs and salad greens will flourish all winter long by a sunny window. Or try growing micro-greens; lettuce, broccoli or other seedlings that are harvested and eaten just after the first leaves appear.
10. Make music. Recorded music is great, but homemade is even better. Tune up that old guitar or dust off the piano and enjoy singing and making music with your family and friends. Pass out a few rhythm instruments and it wonâ€™t matter how rusty you areâ€”youâ€™ll never hear yourself anyway. Or start a nose flute, kazoo, or harmonica band.
11. Plan a tripâ€”either a real one or a dream vacation. Borrow some travel guides and maps from the library, read up on your destination and plot out your journey. Study another language if applicable.
Keeping a list of blues-beating remedies on hand can help you to be prepared when cabin fever strikes. What other ideas would you add to your list?