‘What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. ‘
The new year is an exciting time! It’s full of potential and new possibilities. And we’ve just come through a wonderful season of preparation, anticipation, and celebration.
Yet, this time can also be a bit of a let down for some. Children especially often feel a bit low after those presents have been unwrapped and played with and it’s back to business as usual.
Before Christmas we were occupied with prepping and planning. A plethora of errands to run and tasks to cross off the to do list. It was a busy time, with many a toddler (and mommy- ha!) lost to meltdown or overstimulation!
It doesn’t help that most suggestions for winter merriment focus on holiday related activities and buying things, as opposed to modest pleasures that can be had thoughtout the season. After all, the winter season officially begins only days before Christmas, with the near entirety of the season lying beyond.
Steinbeck’s quote reminds us of the contrasts between the seasons and how the warmth of summer is sweetened by the cold of winter.
In the warmer months, we venture out seeking adventure, whereas in the cold of winter we usually keep a little closer to home. This same ebb and flow of nature is comparable to the holiday bustle, followed by a longing to slow your home.
After the big parties and shiny new gifts, it’s refreshing at this time to focus more on the simple pleasures.
But after you have scaled back for a few days and still long to stay closer to home, how can you prevent cabin fever from setting in?
One way is to be more intentional about how you spend your time. Try to focus on the activities that refresh you. Have real fun with the people you love. Pay attention and really notice the little things, like that sweet tiny hand reaching for yours.
Another way to fight off cabin fever is to practice contentment and gratitude. Express genuine feelings of contentment and experience gratitude with your heart! Don’t just write something down on your gratitude list. Live and breath gratitude!
Cabin fever may still set in, despite our best efforts.
But to assuage the winter blues, I encouragingly remind our littles that the new year is when the real fun of winter begins, without the pressure of the holidays!
Here are some of our favorite go to winter ideas, and a few new ones, to help prevent or cure cabin fever:
–Start The Day With A Hot Breakfast: Include a hot breakfast to start the day off on the right foot! You need a little extra warmth to get you going on cold mornings. We usually have oatmeal, steel cut oats, for breakfast during the week. The photo above was oatmeal from summer, after we’d just gone berry picking. Right now we’re usually topping our oatmeal with dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon. We also occasionally enjoy brown rice in almond milk with maple syrup and a dab of coconut oil or cream of buckwheat for breakfast. Again add dried or fresh fruit, nuts or seeds, and your favorite seasonings to taste for a delicious and comforting way to start your day. On the weekends we put in a little more effort and like to make pancakes, waffles, or french toast. It’s easy to dress pancakes up for a tasty seasonal treat! We like to dress ours up like snowmen in winter! We do bunnies in spring…
–Play Dress Up: Fill a chest, bag, or box with dress up items to pull out for the little ones. It’s an impromptu costume party! I collect any hand me downs, thrift store finds, and old Halloween costumes and into the dress up box they go. We have big floppy hats, bandanas, thrift store costume jewelry, old coats, long gloves, sunglasses…
–Have a Photo Shoot: While they’re in those cute dress up clothes, why not try snapping some photos of your little princes and princesses? It all makes for great fun! Have a friendly costume contest to make it even more exciting!
–Build A Fort: My boys can build a fort out of just about anything! Sheets, boxes, old scraps of wood, you name it! In winter especially, they enjoy taking any spare sheets or blankets, or bedding from their bed on washing day, and using them to make a ‘fort’. The kitchen chairs usually form the basic structure and can be used to create a simple hideout, a train, circus tent, or anything their little imaginations can dream up! Keeping some extra cloths pins or those big beach towel clips around can help immensely! Or just set up an indoor play tipi, if you have one, or even a small camping tent.
–Stay in Your Pajamas All Day: This is fairly self explanatory, ha, but try staying in your pajamas all day on those days when everyone feels a bit run down and in need of some extra rest and relaxation. Slippers and a fluffy robe are in order as well!
–Have a Movie Matinee: If possible, try to combine pajama day with a movie matinee! Pop some popcorn, make hot coco or tea, and snuggle up together under a warm blanket to watch a family friendly movie.
–Have An Indoor Picnic: One of our most cherished family activities is heading to the park for a picnic and some active play. However, that idea is not nearly as appealing come midwinter! To bide our time until spring, we like to get our picnic basket and blanket out and have a picnic right in front of the fire place in the living room! We start a fire, grab a few picture books, and feast!
–Play Games/Puzzles: Bring out your favorite boardgames, card games, and puzzles. Or better yet, learn a new game or try a new puzzle. Set your phone aside and be present. Spend the time really looking at and listening to your spouse and children while playing, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.
–Make Homemade Play Dough or Salt Dough: I occasionally pick up play dough at the store but I prefer the homemade kind. It’s super easy, you don’t have to make a special trip out to the store to get it, and it smells better! I like to scent our dough with essential oils as an extra little treat for the senses. The boys get a kick out of mixing the ingredients together, then I cook the dough on the stove. They can spend the whole afternoon with a fresh batch of play dough rolling, cutting, and shaping. Salt dough is even easier to make and can then be baked and painted. We used salt dough to make the Christmas ornaments for our tree this year. But salt dough isn’t limited to ornament making. They can shape anything their little fingers can make (trucks, flowers, puppies…) to bake and paint!
–Make You Own Candles: You can find candle making kits or buy more professional candle making supplies to produce high quality candles to burn in your home all year log. But for the boys, I like to get the kits that have sheets of beeswax that allow them to simply roll and mold the wax around the wick. The boys look adorable warming the wax between their little palms and it’s not nearly as messy or time consuming as traditional candle making!
–Make A New Playlist: There’s nothing that sets the tone for a relaxing evening at home like a great playlist! I don’t know about you, but music is truly one of those simple things that brings great joy into my life! I used to be diligent about keeping track of my music and making new playlists but I’ve really slipped in this department over the last several years. I’ve sure been missing the music in my life! My children also took great delight in the children’s playlists I used to make for them. So one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get back into the habit of making playlists! I’ll share them here when I do!
–Read Books About Winter: Gather your own books about winter or check some out at your local library. We have a small collection of books for each season and the boys look forward to rereading them through the season each year. It’s a great time to learn more about animals during the winter, hibernation, migration, snow and ice, or anything else related to or occuring in a winter setting.
–Work on a Craft Project or Hobby: Gather your crafting supplies and spend the afternoon crafting together. Work on your scrapbook, start a collage, or knit, whatever brings you joy. Compile an album with your digital photos and have it shipped right to your door. The boys helped me put a chatbooks together for the first time recently and the whole family has been enjoying flipping through it and showing it to anyone who comes over for a visit. We take a lot of photos but I’m not so great about printing out photos for display. Or think about finally finish that long neglected DIY project that you started and have been meaning to get back to. Also, consider learning more about a new interest by checking out books at the library, doing some research online, or by watching youtube demonstrations. For some easy kid friendly crafting, try cutting snowflakes out of aluminum foil, coffee filters, constructions paper, newspaper, or whatever recyclable materials you have lying around.
–Play in the Snow: Get all bundled up and head outside to play in the snow! Yes, you too mom and dad! Gaze up in wonder at the falling snow and catch snow flakes on your tounge. Build a snow fort, make a snow man, have a snowball fight, and make snow angels. Grab you sleds and tubes, or even a piece of cardboard, and find the biggest hill you can. Keep sledding until you can’t possibly climb the hill one more time, before heading home. Simply shoveling snow can also be a blast! Our oldest son likes to shovel our driveway and then wants to go help all the neighbors with their driveways too. It’s a win-win! He has a great time and gets to help our friends! I also like to fill plastic bottles or trays with water and food coloring and let the boys spray and paint the snow. They thoroughly enjoy making their colorful creations!
–Try a Winter Related Science Experiment: I’m sure you’re familiar with those vinegar and baking soda volcano experiments. But what about a volcano in the snow? A friend sent me this pin and we plan to try it asap! Really hoping we get enough snow this year to make it work!
–Go on a Winter Nature Hike: You don’t have to exercise inside all winter just because it’s a little chilly out. Dress in your cold weather gear, grab some snacks, and get outside for a winter hike. Watch for animal tracks left behind in the snow. We recently enjoyed learning more about animal tracks by reading Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 1). Hike to a sheltered area where you can enjoy your treats, while watching for winter wildlife and enjoying the gentle sounds of winter.
–Practice Winter Nature Photography: If you or anyone in your family enjoys nature photography, grab your camera on the way out the door for that hike and snap the images that can only be captured this time of year: the bright white snow, clinging ice sickles, bare branches covered in ice… Anything else that captures your attention.
–Feed the Birds: Food can be difficult for nonmigratory birds to find in winter.We like to leave food for the birds and keep an ear out for their arrival. If you would like to attract birds to your backyard just leave out some seed or as an afternoon activity for the kiddos coat pinecones in peanut butter and roll them in birdseed. The birds will devour this tasty treat.
–Make an Ice Sun-Catcher: We try to make an ice sun catcher every year after Christmas, when we have a bunch of extra greens, cranberries, and citrus lying around. Ours don’t always turn out quite this nice but here’s a lovely example to inspire you! Basically, you fill a bowl or bundt pan with water and add greens, orange slices, glitter, or anything that would look beautiful glittering in the sun. You can make a handle for your sun catcher with ribbon or twine. Then, hang your beautiful creation and watch it shimmer in the brilliant winter sunlight.
–Make Snow Ice Cream or Maple Syrup Snow Candy: As I said before unfortunately, we haven’t had enough snow yet this year to do this but in the past we’ve always enjoyed making snow ice cream and maple syrup snow candy, just like in the Little House books!
–Enjoy Hot Chocolate or Other Hot Drinks: It’s incredibly satisfying to indulge in a hot drink on a chilly winter day! You can easily make a mug of instant hot chocolate in the microwave or if you are looking for a healthier version try our healthy hot chocolate! We’ve also enjoyed making vegan chia tea lattes, various teas, turmeric milk, the possibilities are endless… Here’s a list of hot drinks that’s provided much inspiration in our kitchen this winter!
That’s what we’re doing around here right now to beat cabin fever! Hope some of these ideas have helped if you’re needing inspiration.
Have you experienced cabin fever this winter? What are you doing for fun? What are your favorite resources for inspiration?
Hope you have fun and stay cozy! XO