So begins Dr. Seuss’s classic tale The Cat in the Hat. And if you’re confined to your home for any reason, you’re familiar with that I’m-going-crazy-with-cabin-fever feeling! Here are some ideas for surviving long periods of family togetherness:
1- Get Outside: Nothing beats the great outdoors. Even those kids in The Cat in the Hat could have grabbed an umbrella and some rain boots for some fun puddle jumping!
Look “outside” the box and go for a walk, bike ride, or hike and enjoy nature while letting those feel-good endorphins kick in.
2- Start a Family Book Club: A family read-a-thon or book club is always a good idea.
Grab a stack of fun kid books, your favorite snacks, and a bunch of comfy pillows and blankets. Remember, reading is a way to explore the world without ever leaving your home!
3- Have a Jammie “Supper”: On those busy days when we were kids, Mom would often say, “Let’s have a jammie supper!”
We’d all change into our favorite cozy pajamas as fast as we could and then dig into our plates of pancakes or waffles. (Looking back, I now realize that Mom was trying to expedite our getting ready for bed quickly. The plan was brilliantly executed and we all felt part of a special occasion.)
4- Write Away! Have your kids ever felt the joy of sending—and receiving—things through snail mail?
One of the frustrations of being stuck at home is feeling isolated from the rest of the world, so do what you can to reach out—and not just technologically! Gather stickers, markers, and other fun supplies and send letters and pictures to family and friends.
5- Go “Camping” at Home: Mix up your daily routine by setting up a tent indoors!
The kids will love it and, let’s face it; the plumbing situation is much better at home than when camping in the actual mountains. S’mores roasted in the fireplace or on the kitchen stovetop is the perfect touch!
6- Get Cooking: Bake, cut, and decorate sugar cookies together, or maybe even a gingerbread house! (Who says they’re just for Christmas? People live in houses all year ‘round and Easter candy opens up a whole world of new decorating possibilities…) Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous and have enough people, divide up into teams and give each team a time limit and a “mystery” ingredient for creating a prizewinning dish!
7- Walk the Runway: Dressing up is fun for all ages. Why not have a family fashion show?
You could even center your show on a particular decade. Reach into your closets for those extra “special” outfits from days gone by, like Mom’s prom dress or Dad’s MC Hammer pants. Put together some totally tubular outfits, turn on some music with a pulsing beat, and strut your stuff! (Be sure the video is rolling!)
8- Become a Scavenger: Before the digital age, people played real games—games like the classic scavenger hunt. Divide into two teams and give each team a list of specific items to find around the house. The first team that finds all of the items on their list wins!
A good hunt makes everything more exciting. In fact, I sometimes write my kids’ Saturday chores as clues for them to find. (For example, “Vacuum your room, then look in a place where music is played.” Then the next/clue chore might be found in the piano bench.)
9- Mix it Up: Sometimes a little change goes a long way. The simple act of rearranging a kid’s bedroom can be a huge pick-me-up for someone feeling stir crazy. If you’re like me (Should I even confess this?), you’ll seize the day to throw a lot of junk away when your kid isn’t looking. That always feels good (until you’re caught).
10- Have a “Wild Rumpus”: Just like the “wild things” found in Maurice Sendak’s classic, a good stress reliever might be as simple as stomping and howling.
I know that when we’re getting a little grumpy (and being cooped up for long periods of time can definitely stretch patience to the breaking point), a dance party is a great stress reliever. So turn up the stereo and get a little “wild!” The effect is even more fun when coupled with animal paw slippers and paw mitts!
Other fun ideas include tea parties, craft times, home movie nights…so many possibilities! When you have the “opportunity” for a lot of family togetherness, an organized activity can make all the difference between squabbles and epic memory making.