With many businesses and schools temporarily closing down, we are all spending a lot more time at home, and it looks like that isn't going to change anytime soon. Here are a few ideas to avoid cabin fever without spending a ton of money.
Go on a hike
Playgrounds are germ magnets that you should definitely avoid. However, hiking in areas that aren’t too crowded should be safe. Google “family-friendly hikes near me” to find the best kid-friendly options in your city. Check your city/state's park system website to confirm the park is open before visiting. I know our state, Texas, is committed to maintaining an alert map with the current status of all parks.
Free eBook from Local library
Check with your local library on whether they offer eBook rentals. Library membership is free to local residents. If your library does not offer eBooks, check with libraries in major metro areas; some offer membership to non-residents for a small fee.
Libraries get a limited number of licenses for each book so there can be a waitlist for the most popular books. Other than that, you are free to check out and read as many books as possible on your phone or tablet.
Streaming Free trial periods
The major streaming services all offer free trial periods. Netflix and Hulu both offer 30 days free. Apple TV+ and Disney+ offer a 7-day free trial. Much smaller channel-specific services also offer some sort of trial. A very few channels such as The CW still offer free streaming; just be prepared to watch the same 2-3 commercials over and over again.
Don't forget to cancel at the end of your trial period!
Download free activities online
The internet is full of free downloadable templates to entertain kids. Some of our favorites are coloring books, hidden object puzzles, mazes. Check out our Pinterest board for resources.
Make sensory bins for younger children
Sensory bins are typically plastic bins filled with some type of material and various objects to manipulate the material. Materials can include things like rice, beans, cornmeal, beads, shredded paper, pom poms, and so on. These bins serve a dual purpose, they provide an activity and stimulation for children while also giving you the opportunity to teach basic manipulation skills.
Susie at Busy Toddler provides instructions on how she makes these with items that she has in the house, and she provides examples of activities to do with them
Make your own board game
This is a fun activity to do with your older kids that will take up a decent amount of time. The essential steps are to brainstorm the type of game, pick a theme, make a board and game pieces, write the rules, and then play!
Wikihow outlines each step in more detail, and the team over at Ikatbag.com walks through a detailed example of a game made by elementary school students. Both resources suggest creating your own pieces. I like this idea if you are creative, but I think you could also raid your other board games for some items!
Build a garden
Take the opportunity to enjoy the nice weather while teaching your kids plant basics. We have written previously about starting a garden in a small space.
I'd love to hear your ideas for entertaining your family!