Cabin Fever Winter Blues

by Dana Wood

Winter blues are real. You have been schooling for weeks and the end of the school year seems years instead of months away. Tears are the norm and the joy is gone. How do you snap yourself out of it?

You need to change things up. Sticking to your schedule will only make it worse. It doesn’t mean you throw away your carefully laid plans. It means a quick break to remember why you are doing this in the first place, but also so your kids can remember to love learning.

I suggest a two-pronged approach. One is to change your school days to add more fun and two, build some give in your school with things like a substitute box.

The 3 R’s

There are some really fun math books that you can use instead of the daily math assignments. One of my favorites is the Family Math Series by Jean Kerr Stenmark. These are fun, short math problems and puzzles that require no prep and minimal materials. They are fun for all ages.

The “Sir Cumference” series by Cindy Neuschwander, “The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat” by Theoni Pappas, or “The Number Devil” by Hans Magnus Enzensberger are fun books about math for elementary ages. “How to Bake Pi” by Eugenia Cheng and “A Mind for Numbers” by Barbara Oakley, are great for Middle school and up.

Card games are also a way to do math and have fun. A google search will turn up some fun games to play.

Spend a day (or more) reading to your kids. Like the whole day. Make some popcorn, gather some blankets and cuddle up on the couch and read. Even teens like to be read to. Work your way through a short series or reread a family favorite.

Have your kids write a new ending to their favorite movie or book and then read them aloud to each other. The key here is not to grade their work, but to let them express themselves without censure or expectations. It’s all in fun.

Other options

Don’t forget YouTube. There are lots of educational happenings there. “Shadiversity” is about medieval history that boys will like. “Issac Arthur” is all about the theories of space travel, etc. “Smarter Every Day” is about lots of different topics. “SpanglerscienceTV” does all the messy experiments for you. There’s also “History” from the history channel. And if you are looking for How to videos, there are millions of those too. I’m sure you can find something to interest all of your children.

Having a project to do that is not school related can motivate your kids to get things done so they can work on their stuff. This winter my 15-year-old is making a Mandalorian costume. He found a YouTube channel that shows you how to make one. He has spent hours working on it.

A Substitute Box

Public school teachers have instructions they leave for the substitute teacher if they can’t be at school. Moms need one, too. This is perfect for sick days, busy days, or teacher development days when you just need a break.

In this box are things your kids can do without you. I like to put in things like educational games, art projects and supplies, special books, and non-messy science activities. If your kids like workbook pages, you can add copies of pages from different sources. Anything can go in the box.

And last, but not least, spend a day cleaning or sorting that area that is driving you crazy. The satisfaction of finishing something on your to-do list might be just what you need to chase the blues away. Your kids might be more willing to help if they get a free day from school.

Cabin fever winter blues are real. Dealing with them helps us all cope as we wait for the snow to melt and things to become green again. Go have some fun with your kids!