Being a stay-at-home mom is the greatest blessing of my life. But when boredom strikes – as it sometimes does – here are a couple of helpful methods I’ve found…
Recently, I’ve been going a little stir-crazy at home.
In the summer, I love that I can take my kids outside to play. The warm weather, fun outdoor activities, and change of scenery makes all the difference for our sanity. Fall is even better because we don’t have to worry about any stifling heat putting an end to our play. We can be outside for hours, and the kids stay happy. I love it.
And then along comes winter to dash all our hopes and dreams. … Winter, on behalf of all moms everywhere, I want to say, you’re the worst.
Just kidding… But sometimes, we do go a little insane, being cooped up inside for multiple days on end.
When restlessness and boredom strikes, we need something, anything, to switch things up.
So, when I notice the cabin fever kicking in, here are a couple of things that help us reset and have love [and sanity] at home.
1. Get out of the house
Alright, I’ve just got to get the really obvious one out of the way.
As the name implies, cabin fever is when you’re going crazy from being confined to your cabin (home). Nothing seems to be happening because you’re in your house, all day long, with the same people, day after day after day.
So, if you can brave the outdoors, get out there!
Bundle up and play in the snow, take a walk, eat out for lunch, or head to the store and get some grocery shopping done. I recently took my kids to an indoor playground at a fast food place, and that worked great.
Find anything that allows your family to escape the confinements of your home for a little while.
2. Establish a good routine
I’m a huge advocate for having a good routine.
It doesn’t mean I’m perfect at it, but I’ve experienced how impactful a routine can be for our little family.
Even for my two little kids, a good routine helps them sense when I’m going to prepare meals or give them my undivided attention, and when they need to have some independent play or start winding down for a nap.
Because their internal clocks are keeping them in line with the routine, I feel like they’re more “in-the-know” and less demanding all day long. Happy kids, happy mom, better sanity all around.
A routine keeps things organized and flowing in the home. Instead of living in a state of confusion and chaos.
So I am always eager to jump back into a routine after holidays or vacations, or refine the routine when boredom strikes and I fall into motherhood monotony, or feel any other form of cabin fever approaching.
3. Have a really good activity list and supply basket on-hand
I learned this one from my mama.
When my sister and I became old enough to babysit, my mom helped us come up with a master activity list, full of things we could do while we were babysitting. We also had a backpack with the necessary supplies to complete those activities.
That way, instead of just watching tv the whole time or letting the kids make all of the suggestions for play, we came equipped with crafts, games, and plenty of entertainment for the couple of hours that their parents were away.
Even now, I like to have a good pre-planned activity list (and a supply basket), for the days when boredom strikes and my kids are going stir-crazy.
Instead of some huge effort to come up with a new activity that they’ll enjoy, I scan the list really quick and choose one. Easy peasy.
4. Plan bigger activities that you can look forward to
When I say “bigger,” I don’t mean that you have to go to extreme lengths to create this epic, unforgettable experience.
It can be pretty simple. The only requirements are that it’s outside the norm, takes a little bit of planning, and gives your family something to look forward to.
For example, I used to take my kids to the library once a week. I didn’t have to do anything special for that, just set the day. But my daughter knew it was coming, and she would get so excited. All week long, I would talk about how the library trip was coming up and discuss what types of books we might check out. It broke up the monotony of the week and gave us something to look forward to when we were getting antsy from being cooped up inside.
Another example of a bigger activity could be a special family movie night. Maybe on Friday night, you’re going to rent a new movie to watch with the kids and make a special treat like muddy buddies.
When you’re in the midst of cabin fever, I recommend planning ONE bigger family activity each week. Too many activities takes away from the special anticipation. Spreading them too far apart makes it harder for kids to comprehend and look forward to the activity since there’s no foreseeable gratification. One time each week seems to be the happy middle ground here.
5. Set up a toy rotation
I read about this method a while ago, and it is gold!
The way it works is to divide your toys into separate containers (animals, blocks, puzzles, baby dolls, etc.) and rotate through those containers each week or two, rather than having every toy you own accessible all the time. (We use cube storage organizers and collapsible cube bins for organization because it makes it super easy for the kids to access their toys.)
In our home, we have a couple of toys that are always available because my kids never seem to lose interest in them, such as our toy kitchen set and fisher price people. But for everything else, we notice that the toy rotation system works really well.
It’s almost comical to see how excited my daughter gets when we pull out a toy that’s been in hiding for a few weeks. That toy becomes her new favorite possession, even though it’s not new at all.
This technique can be so helpful for those times when boredom strikes and the kids are restless because, like the previous suggestion, it switches up the norm and gives them something that feels new and fresh and exciting.
It also can keep your kids happy long enough to allow you, as the mom, a moment without them hovering or demanding entertainment, so that’s cool.
6. Invite a friend over
Cabin fever really seems to be difficult for me as a young mom when I’m stuck in the same place with the same people and the same activities for too long. The sameness just feels like a limbo, and I crave progression and change.
Because of that, it’s really healthy for me to have social interactions with more than just my husband and kids. I love them dearly, but it’s good to step outside of the expected, and invite someone over who challenges me to think and respond in a different way.
(And when your kids are going stir-crazy, they may be having those same feelings and want some new buddies to play with too!)
“Inviting a friend over” can have various forms:
- Maybe you text a close friend to come over and hang out, someone you’ve known for years and whose company you enjoy immensely. You know that having them there will cheer you up and pull you out of the funk of cabin fever.
- Maybe you invite someone over from church to have dinner with your family. It takes a little more preparation and social effort, but it stretches you in a good way. And it could be the “bigger activity” I mentioned earlier that gives your family something different and interesting to plan for that week.
- Or maybe you know of a mom in the area (who is possibly also experiencing cabin fever) who could bring her kids over to your house to play for a few hours. It’ll give you some different company, and your kids will likely love the new little companions to join their playtime.
If you really don’t have the option to invite someone over, call a friend during your kid’s naptime. I love calling my mom every once in a while to just chat about life. It can be really rejuvenating when boredom strikes and I’m in the midst of that cabin fever limbo.
7. Start a new hobby or activity
During the first winter I experienced as a new mom, I was going SO stir-crazy. I loved my little girl more than anything, but she was less than a year old, and honestly, I felt incredibly bored sometimes.
It seemed like a major effort to bundle up for outdoor activities, and I really just hate the cold. So, yeah…cabin fever was kind of inevitable.
During that time, I explored a couple of hobbies and landed on cake-decorating. I discovered a passion for making and decorating cakes, and I even advertised my new skill to the community, to make a little money on the side with cake orders. (Check out my post here.)
I mostly worked on cakes while my daughter was taking her naps. Cabin fever disappeared, and I felt motivated and excited to have something new to look forward to each week. I’ve even continued that hobby, and I’m currently working towards a goal of finishing 75 cakes before I turn thirty!
Recently, a new ‘activity’ I’ve tried is introducing preschool to my two year old. We use the Playing Preschool program from Busytoddler, which is based on play and exposure, rather than total mastery of concepts. For the most part, it’s not too advanced for her age and full of fun activities that we can try. I also love that it doesn’t take any extra effort from me to plan- I just follow the schedule and my daughter has something fun to look forward to each day. (This is not sponsored whatsoever – I just really genuinely love the program!)
I also started this blog in the midst of cabin fever this year, and it’s been a great thing to look forward to during naptimes. (you can read more about my discoveries in starting a mom blog here)
I know several moms who really enjoy picking up part-time jobs – something they can do while their kids are napping, or jobs that even let them bring their kids along.
- My sister has worked in the daycare of a gym, and they let her bring her son. She also worked from home, scheduling appointments for a sprinkler company.
- I’ve taught English online, early in the morning.
- A friend of mine works in a soda shop, and her daughter hangs out with her while she frosts cookies.
If a part time job seems like the solution for you, there are so many options out there that are flexible with kids.
When boredom strikes , try brainstorming what new hobby or activity may help you combat your cabin fever and feel excited for each day as a stay-at-home mom. You may have to test a couple different options, but hopefully you’ll land on something you love.
8. Embrace your cabin life
Wait, what? I know, this one seems totally backwards and wacky. You want to combat your cabin fever, not embrace the cabin life (“cabin life” being the actual confinement to your home). But hear me out.
There are days when I’ve felt totally stir-crazy and highly motivated to do something about my cabin fever. I just want to get out or make a change!
On other days, I’ve hated feeling contained in my home with nothing new to do or look forward to, but… I also don’t have the motivation or energy to change anything. (Mom life, let’s be real here.)
So, this suggestion is for those days – when boredom strikes but… you really just don’t want to do anything that I’ve mentioned above.
Instead, take a deep breath, accept your circumstances, and then embrace that cabin life.
Pull out some comfy blankets and turn on a movie to watch with the kids. Know that you can go into combat mode tomorrow, but for now, consider how the slower pace and cozy home might not be such a big enemy after all.
Again, I want to be realistic and say that this rarely works for me. My personality is such that when cabin fever is present, I want to dispel that feeling from my life immediately and jump to one of the solutions above! BUT there are times when I’ve assessed the feeling and realized that I can coexist with it, and cabin fever is not the worst thing ever at that moment. So, once again, this suggestion is for those times.
Good luck with that pesky cabin fever! I hope one of these suggestions gives you something new to work with, or at least is a helpful reminder in the cold months ahead when restlessness and boredom strikes . You’ve got this mama!
Is there anything else that helps you combat cabin fever as a young mom? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Are you new to the blog? Check out my post for cozy home date nights.