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The Cure for Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever Image

The other day I was preparing to leave the house with my twins when my little guy looked up at me and asked, “McDonalds?”. I replied that we had to pick his older brother up from school.
R: “I love McDonalds.”
Me: “Do you love Mommy?”
R: “No…I love McDonalds.”
I think to myself, “are we in the middle of another winter rut?” How many times had my husband and I bought coffee at McDonalds, or bought the kids a milkshake at Chick-fil-a, so the three kids could run around and get the crazies out? Trust me, if the thermometer hits anything close to 40 degrees, with sunshine and little to no wind, we will find a way to be outside. However, this winter isn’t blessing us with many of those days. Now I’m wondering about other activities I can do with my kids in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas, or things we can do at home, to bring some fun (and sanity) to these cold and bleary days.

I started racking my brain, checking the Internet and asking my wonderful group of moms from MMLV for input. We are lucky in this day and age that if we want quick information on what to do and where to go, we can find it with an Internet connection and a few keystrokes. I kept noticing likes on Facebook for Lehigh Valley’s Find & Go Seek. Other mothers have confirmed that they find great information here for activities to do with their kids. Other online sources for kid-friendly activities include Kutztown to Allentown Macaroni Kid and LehighValleyKidsGuide.com. Sometimes coupons are included for activities and events, which is helpful to any mom, especially those with more than one child.

Many parents choose to enroll their children in sports camps or other physical activities burn off energy, learn teamwork and develop skills. We signed my older son up for basketball and floor hockey through Stretch-n-Grow’s All-Star Sports Program last winter, and this year he started karate. If your goal is to get your kids out of the house to run around, minus the structure, other options exist in the Valley. Bounce U offers Preschool Playtime and All-Ages Open Bounce, where kids can jump on and slide down giant inflatables. At East Penn Children’s Fitness Academy, kids can play on a variety of gymnastic and climbing equipment. The large trampoline, ball pit, and ride on toys are very popular. Pre-K and Kindergarten aged children can run around and get wild during Elite Kids Open Gym at the Elite Sports Academy. Then there’s Toddler Open Play at Game Time Field House or Lunch Time Fun Time at Force Sports Academy. Where you go most likely depends on where you live, the ages of your children, and how much you are willing to spend per child. Each location has their own website with a calendar of events and contact information.

I also like the idea of going out to eat and then having an activity to do in the same location. When we are tired of cooking at home, sometimes we pack up the kids and go to Rascal’s Food and Fun. After our meal, we can spend $10 to $15 on a game card and let the kids run around. All the kids love skeeball, although no one has perfected any kind of technique, and sometimes the twins will just sit on the racing games or jump on Dance Dance Revolution as though we actually paid to play. Parents of older kids who can learn to roll a ball straight could try a meal and bowling at Revolutions in Bethlehem. Or the location itself can be the source of entertainment. One mom of twins says that she takes her children to Panera to watch the bakers. With a couple of fresh treats, small toys and coloring books, an hour can easily pass. Some moms combine shopping, eating and entertainment at the Allentown Farmer’s Market or Wegman’s. Children can get a snack or meal and have plenty of people and activity to watch. By planning ahead, you can make or print out papers for scavenger hunts to help the kids stay focused, and you have the added benefit of accomplishing an errand.

If you want to engage your children’s intellectual and curious sides, you can plan a fun day-trip to several local and within driving distance locations. Car and truck enthusiasts can plan a visit to America on Wheels, which has free admission for children 5 and under, or the Mack Truck Museum. The Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown can encourage your little scientists to think, explore and ask questions, while your younger kids have access to a preschool room. At the Crayola Factory in Easton, your kids can create their own markers and personalize their own crayon label. This attraction boasts an 85-foot water table, which is a working lock and canal system. Seeing how crayons are made is just one of the many activities; there are several unique arts and crafts experiences throughout the building. If the weather cooperates, the Lehigh Valley Zoo can be a fun outdoor excursion. Their website claims, and other parents have confirmed, that the animals are more active in the colder weather. If your kids are fairly patient on longer trips, you can venture out to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ, or the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. If you are really lucky, and your children can sit still while not strapped into carseats, then you might enjoy story time at your local library, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore like Let’s Play Books in Emmaus.

For anyone with a little budding artist or builder, the Valley features quite a few options for craft projects. Lowe’s offers Build and Grow Clinics on select Saturdays, and Home Depot has free kids workshops on the first Saturday of the month. You just have to check your local store’s website and call or register online. Every Sunday, the Allentown Art Museum has free ArtVentures, where you can visit their in-gallery art carts for special projects. Michael’s in Whitehall has a Kids Club for ages 3 and older. Kids spend half an hour working on a fun art project for only $2. Any moms who frequent Wegman’s can pick up a flyer at the service desk listing all of the month’s activities, including a kids’ story time and art project.

Due to adverse weather conditions, or any of the other obstacles confronting moms of multiples, we often have trouble making it out of the house during winter. I’m sure that many moms have been through the rounds of Play Doh, Legos and Crayola Color Wonder. My indicator that we are truly good and bored is when the Legos morph into tiny footballs, kicked from one end of the room to the other without anyone building a single thing. I really needed input from other moms who know this situation. Suggestions included finding simple craft ideas on Pinterest, building a fort, and having a glow stick dance party. One mom proposed adding glow sticks to empty water bottles to play glow stick bowling. Another brings skating indoors by wrapping wax paper around her kids shoes and securing it with large rubber bands (careful – this is fun but slippery!). Some kids might be excited to help in the kitchen and make rice crispy treats, cupcakes or cookies. They can assist by measuring, mixing, or adding frosting. Getting to play helper in the kitchen may even encourage them to eat a healthier snack or meal that they got to assist in making.

No matter what, the days spent raising multiples will be challenging and unpredictable. Sometimes our efforts at doing a craft activity or leaving the house will be an epic fail, and sometimes they will provide us with great memories and motivation to go for a round two. Sometimes, through good parenting or small miracles, our children listen and we can effortlessly pack them into the car for an adventure, and sometimes we need another adult along for support and constant, hovering supervision. We just have to make it though another winter with our sanity, and those first days of sunny, 40-ish degree weather will be right around the corner! Right now, however, I’m going to look for wax paper and rubber bands.

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