Try these cures for the wintertime blues
By Katy Smith, Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant
MedCentral Pediatric Therapy
Does your family have the wintertime blues? Is everyone lounging around the house munching on junk food and flipping aimlessly through the TV channels? Maybe you have some cabin fever thrown in for good measure.
What, exactly, is cabin fever? Is it like seeing a mirage in the middle of a desert? Does it exist? The Discovery Channel program, "Myth Busters" tried to debunk the theory of cabin fever, but their findings were inconclusive. Wikipedia calls cabin fever "a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a party is isolated and/or shut in, alone or together, for an extended period. Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, forgetfulness and excessive sleeping." This pretty much describes the feeling we all get in the bleak winter of Ohio. This affects adults and children alike. The only way to combat it is to stay busy - either inside or out.
Here are some indoor and outdoor activities that can keep the family moving and happy together:
- Game nights can be great fun. Cranium, Pictionary, Charades and other games incorporate movement and interaction and span many different ages. You can tailor these games to have themes, such as zoo animals, sports, popular songs and winter objects.
- Go outside! Just being outside in the fresh (if cold) air and maybe soaking up some of the fleeting rays of sun will not only improve your mood, but it will get your blood pumping and lungs working.
- When outside in the snow, use a mixture of cornstarch, food coloring and water in spray bottles to color the snow and create masterpieces! This can also substitute sidewalk chalk, and may be used on the driveway when there is no snow. Cardboard from Christmas presents can be cut into shapes (with Mom and Dad's help) to make stencils and outlines of animals, kids and other fun shapes.
- Try making different footprints in the snow and guess what animal each person is making.
- Scavenger hunts inside and outside can be great fun, and can last all day. Hiding everyday objects in plain sight inside or outside your home will tell you who is the most observant. You can help each child write clues and take pictures of the hidden objects.
- Indoor "snowball fights" can be a great way for everyone to work off some extra energy. Have each child crumple pieces of white tissue paper (left over from Christmas gifts) or pieces of newspaper using only one hand, and throw to a bucket across the room. The first to fill a bucket or container wins! Another version of a snowball fight reuses the "snowballs" made in the earlier game. Divide a room in half and set a timer for 2-3 minutes. Yell, "Go!" Each team throws their tissue paper snowballs back and forth across the lines. When the timer goes off, the team with the fewest snowballs on their side wins.
- Shoe Box Relay Race: Place Tootsie Rolls in a bowl (one bowl for each child), at one end of the room. Hang a bell, from the ceiling, over the bowl. Divide the children into two or more relay teams. Explain that when you say, "Go," the first person on each team will put on mittens, step into the shoeboxes and race to the other end of the room where they will ring the bell with their nose. Then each player picks up a tootsie roll and races back to their team still wearing their mittens and shoeboxes. Pass the mittens and shoe box to the next person in line, sit down, and eat your tootsie roll. The first team to finish eating their tootsie rolls wins!
Whether it's the cabin fever blues or too many school snow days, remember that the family that plays together, laughs and has fun together, will make it through another Ohio winter together!