In the Upper Midwest, where the Montessorium team lives, we soldier through bitter winters that begin often in early December and continue through March.
My wife and I have kids who are high energy and of enough different ages to make it sometimes difficult to figure out how we thread the needle and find ways to keep our kids engaged during these cold winter months. It can be especially hard during the Holiday season, when the business of school days gives way to hours and hours together.
I think the key to keeping kids engaged during the Holiday break and in these bitter cold months is to see the cabin as a laboratory to experiment with different kinds of activities; be aware that we can’t keep everyone engaged all of the time, doing the same thing; and use excursions outside the home as a high point rather than an expectation.
How do we handle cabin fever at our house? Here are a few strategies:
Bake and make. The tendency during the Holidays is to bake cookies and send and share them with friends and relatives. And we certainly do that in our house, but one thing that we like to do even more after the Holidays is bake cookies and deliver them to people who receive Meals on Wheels in our community. It makes for a nice treat for the kids to make and give and it gets us out of the house to meet people who appreciate a visit.
Camp out in front of our fireplace! Bring summer camping trips to your living room by building tents with blankets, bringing out sleeping bags, and camping out overnight. We like to make s’mores in the microwave, have the kids help us make cocoa, and watch a movie or read books.
Sort and fix things. Our kids love to organize and the Holidays can be a great time to de-clutter. We love to have our kids work with us to organize art supplies, go through closets to choose clothes to donate or send to the consignment store, and go through old toys to keep or give away. It gives our kids a sense of ownership around their home and helps us simplify things with their help.
Make and illustrate books. Our daughters, in particular, like to write books and draw and sketch. Our oldest daughter loves to be challenged to research and write a book on a particular subject. Our second daughter loves to either be challenged to draw illustrations for the book or have us draw outlines for her to color. Collaborative book making makes for hours of fun around here.
In cold South Dakota, it’s easy to get a little dizzy from cabin fever and to lament the summer months long past. And we do. Little diversions – ways to give to others, enjoy summer activities in winter, and simplify or make new things – helps the short winter days seem their length for the kids and for us. Those same little diversions create opportunities for creativity, partnership, and memories that we hope stick for our kids and for generations beyond us.
About the Author
Bill Anderson is a father of 4 who shares his experiences about parenting and life with Guidepost Parent.
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