Cabin fever is REAL. If your kids are bouncing off the walls this winter, try these low-prep activities that will get kids moving and playing creatively. They might just save your sanity.
Are your kids bored, cranky, or downright crazy right now? Blame it on cabin fever.
Winter can be tough on kids (and all of us, really). Cold weather and fewer daylight hours means that kids spend more hours confined indoors. This is a problem because being stuck indoors makes it harder to expend all the mental and physical energy building up inside their little bodies.
So what do they do?
They fight with their siblings.
They kick the walls.
They jump off the furniture.
All the things that drive a mama crazy!
To beat cabin fever, we need to help our kids recognize what their bodies and minds need, and provide opportunities to meet those needs in more constructive ways (read: NOT terrorizing their siblings).
So, what do they need?
3 things kids need to prevent cabin fever:
- sensory stimulation
- a creative outlet
I’ll also say that getting outside, even in cold weather, does wonders for kids, and it’s been a personal goal of mine this winter to get my family outside a little more often.
But we can’t always be outside, especially during these cold months. Babies need naps, kids get sick, and some days it’s just too stormy or cold to spend much time outdoors. Those times are when cabin fever is at its worst.
But you can push back against the winter blues by tapping into the three needs listed above: movement, sensory stimulation, and creativity. And it doesn’t have to be complicated! If you’ve been around here for long, you know I’m a big proponent of simple fun and learning. Low prep, low stress, high fun and learning.
Below are a handful of simple ideas that are perfect to pull out any time you feel cabin fever creeping into your home. They’ll help reset a bad day, engage kids in important creative play, and get everybody through the winter in one piece.
We can do this!
Simple kids activities to beat cabin fever
We LOVE playdough at our house (and it’s a great sensory activity for kids). You could buy some at the store, but it’s so quick and easy to make at home, and my kids love to pick their own colors and watch the playdough come together as we cook it. This playdough recipe from my friend Shani is a winner, and the blue & glitter combo is perfect for winter-themed play! (from Sunshine and Munchkins)
Bonus idea: Make plain white playdough and give your kids some small sticks and beads to build their own playdough snowmen!
If your kids are bouncing off the walls, try this simple game that will focus their energy and give them a great workout! Simply, gather items from around the house, or just use the furniture as it stands, and make an obstacle course for your child…think American Ninja Warrior. You can see an example of one we’ve done in the past here (along with several more games for getting kids moving indoors).
Once the Christmas decorations are all put away, I always feel like my house looks a little bare. Why not brighten things up with some tissue paper suncatchers? All you need is tissue paper (raid your gift wrapping stash) and some contact paper. These beauties are so easy-to-make; even toddlers can do this one! (from Sunshine and Munchkins)
Kids don’t need lots of expensive toys! We know this. Turn your trash into creative play by gathering random items (called “loose parts” in the education world) into a a box and giving your kids free reign to create whatever they can dream up. You might be amazed at what comes out of their amazing imaginations! Our inventor box has been going strong for years and my kids still pull it out regularly! Get all the details on how to make your own. (spoiler: it’s SUPER easy!)
Have you used water beads before? They are one of our favorite summertime activities (watch us play with them here) and have made repeat appearances at my kids’ birthday parties and play dates. To learn more about where to buy them, and how to use and store them indoors for winter play, click here. (from Sunshine and Munchkins)
I’m all for sending kids outside to play in the snow, but sometimes it’s fun to bring the snow inside! Scoop some snow into a storage bin. Place it in the bathtub or on a few towels. Give your kids gloves (trust me on this one) and a few cups or shovels, and enjoy the fruits of a happy, occupied child!
There you have it!
Want more ideas to beat cabin fever and keep kids playing all winter long?
Print out my Bordeom Buster Bingo game to get 24 more super simple, kid-approved activity ideas!