This winter has been brutal! Just when we think that there might be an end in sight, many of us are finding ourselves back stuck in the house – and before you know it, cabin fever has set in. It’s so tempting to curl up on the couch and binge watch a fave TV show, but experts say that will make your bad mood worse. And when your kids are on their fourth, fifth or seventh (gulp) snow day, you all have to get back to work. Here are six tricks I use with my family to cure cabin fever.
- Plan ahead. Thanks to 10-day forecasts and school alert systems, it’s easier to know when you’ll be “unexpectedly” stuck inside. Encourage your kids to bring home anything they think they might need to stay up on their school work in case of a school closure. This could be their AP Statistics textbook, notes for that Chemistry class, returned assignments for review, their flash drive, etc. Also, if there is a group project that needs to be done, make sure they have the contact information they need. A “snow day” can be a perfect opportunity to catch up or even get ahead, but only if you are able to access the essentials.
- Make a schedule. Start the study session by figuring out what needs to be done and how much time each task will take. It’s amazing how a time limit on each activity can make it appear more manageable — kids are more apt to stay on track when they know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. When you’re creating the schedule, don’t forget to build in plenty of breaks, from tech breaks to snacks or just moving around.
- Definitely get up and move. Study after study has proven that exercise makes kids smarter! It helps then concentrate too, so make sure that you encourage them to take active breaks during their study sessions. Whether they want to play on the Wii, have a dance party, do an exercise DVD or just run up and down the stairs a few times, getting the blood flowing makes the brain work better.
- Go outside. Being stuck inside can make anyone stir crazy. Even if it’s freezing outside, bundle up and get some fresh air. Take a walk; deliver cookies to a friend; build a snowman; or, for a real workout, shovel some snow. You’ll be surprised how invigorating it can feel to get outside, even for just a very brief break.
- Use tech for a study session. Your teen moaning that they can’t get their assignments done because they study better with a friend? Let them put together a virtual study session through Skype or FaceTime. Sometimes working with a classmate can make a big difference for a productive study session.
- Nosh on something healthy. When the weather outside is frightful, we all seem to long for a comfort food haze. But our mood improves and our brains work better when we’re snacking healthy. Here are some great ideas for snacks that are fun to make (perfect break activity!) and eat, and will prevent the brain and body from feeling that lethargy brought on by an overdose of carbs or sugar.
It won’t be long until cabin fever turns to spring fever, but by acknowledging the challenges in staying focused and giving your kids some smart strategies, you can make sure that their brains (and your sanity) don’t go into hibernation.