Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever with Kids and Pets - Survival of the Fittest

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

There are some situations that make you housebound, most often due to extreme weather conditions (extreme hot or below zero temperatures). If you live in an area that has harsh winters, such as myself (days of being housebound may turn to weeks before you step out of the house. These days can be really grim and you, your children, and pets may feel as being imprisoned in your own home, becoming more and more nervous and cranky.

Cabin fever can get anyone feel lethargic, unmotivated, irritable, or just feel down, it all depends on your preparedness and mental strength. If your children or indoor pets are housebound and are getting a bit restless, you can handle it in several ways.


#1 Time for Some Action

The one feeling you should avoid at all cost is the feeling that all you do is just sit around. If we want the endorphin released, we have to start moving around. For example, grab all the couch cushions and pillows, then some cardboard boxes, balls, and slides to create a house obstacle course. Why not race an indoor triathlon? Establish the course route, scatter the pillows and cushions around carpeted areas, use cardboard for tunnels to crawls through, slides to scoot down, and cars to drive. Another idea is to have animal exercises, that is to try and act like a certain animal. One of you starts bending, crawling, or jumping, and the rest try to guess which animal it is about.

As for your house pets, they will definitely participate in all the activities or just find a nice comfy corner to rest and observe the madness. You can add some drama by stuffing a Kong with their favorite treat, peanut butter, or cheese. Pets can get both physical and mental stimulation while working to get the hidden treat. If you run out of food and can’t go out, you can order pet supplies online and have them home delivered.


#2 Break the House Rules

When going outside is out of the question, the area where they can move around and play becomes restricted to the house. I say that, in that case, old rules should be broken. Make a cushion mountain using every cushion or pillow available, eat dinner on the floor, or… turn your faces into canvases! Grab some sponges, soft brushes, and washable or face paints, and start a face-painting activity (don’t forget to cover the floor with towels and instruct your kids not to paint near their eyes).

#3 Doing Chores

You could get things around done with your kids help. Younger kids love getting wet and scooping around the unknown corners of their home. Give your kids a sponge and a spray bottle filled with water, and have them help you spray dirt spots on the floor and wipe them up with a sponge. Also, have them wash their little plastic dishes – put a towel on the floor and a tub of water on the towel, and just let her wash and dry the dishes. When making the bed, let your kids strip the sheets, because the chances are they’ll love it. The most amusing and at the same time messiest task is washing the pet, it can last for hours, and everyone will get wet, but no one will get rid of the smile on their faces.


#4 Find Your Fortress of Solitude

There will come a time when you will feel overwhelmed with all the activities, lack of alone time and constantly staying alert and monitoring your kids and pets. Here is a well-kept secret of the mommy trade, the attic. Naturally this requires some preparation. Step – 1 make a little corner of the attic your personal space, add a good armchair, a lamp and some books. You can even squeeze in a floral pattern or two. Step 2 – get a good kid movie, make a lot of snacks, and leave the attic door open. As you know pets like dogs, or cats will be where the snacks are, and if your kids are like mine they will be feeding them secretly.

Use this time, which usually lasts 60 to 90 minutes if you’re lucky to escape to your little corner and grab some alone time. It will do wonders for your sanity. If your husband is at home you can be sure he will be on the couch watching TV with the kids, and in that case, you can eve close the attic door and enjoy the well-deserved silence. They’ll need you soon enough, if for nothing else then to clean up after the dog.


Cabin fever is common, and parents should know how to keep themselves, their kids, and pets as active, entertained, and mentally engaged as possible, to avoid that housebound crankiness, irritability, and mild depression. These are some indoor activities and advice from a mom that’s been battling the issue for years now, and it may inspire you to try out new things.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.