CABIN FEVER (with Children)
That glimpse of spring we had – before the snow, between the snows – gave us a moment of hope in the Berkshires! After a tough flu season and long winter extending into March (good for maple production), I want to share some ideas on how to remedy cabin fever our parent-child families discussed recently. And remember, spring is right around the corner.
- Although getting outdoors in most kinds of weather is a sanity saver, some days have been too harsh for babies and very young children. Take care not to get into an indoor state of mind for too many days, though. When the temperature rises or the weather calms down just a little, get outside. The time it takes to gear the little ones up is worth it, even for a short backyard adventure. Everyone returns home refreshed.
- Consider whether a change to your rhythm might ease a particularly challenging part of the day. Even tiny changes to a habitual routine can lead to a newfound window of time for an adult who needs a moment for some self-care. The first step is to really begin to note the hardest times and focus on a small adjustment or new form of support that might be worth a try. For instance, one mother who was sick with the flu simply had to turn over the bedtime routine to her partner for several evenings. While there were a few tears at first, everyone ended up transitioning well and the change opened up an opportunity for the partner, who worked long hours, to have a bonding time with their child that hadn’t been available before. And now this mother receives a needed parenting break every evening.
- A number of Parent-Child Garden families are new to our community. Those of us who are more rooted here may remember how hard it can be to form a new supportive group of friends—and moving house with young children is especially challenging! Reach out, ask for help, and receive help when it’s offered. With spring approaching, the possibilities for planning get-togethers, where everyone benefits from the connection and conviviality, will be easier. Casual and easy is best.
- A few destinations were suggested. French Park in Egremont has been renovated and has plenty of space to run around and ride bikes, a covered pavilion to eat under in case it rains, and more. The park by the library in Stockbridge is great, and there’s an easy walking trail right behind it. Soon Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington will be a possibility. Share your discoveries with one another of good ‘go to’ places that you can visit when you’re alone and need to get out of the house in some tangible way—and where you’re very likely to meet other families.
- When I was house-crazy with young children, I found that just getting out into the world with my children in any way helped shift the energy (even when no friend was around). When my boys were ages two and five, I left a very supportive, bustling community to move to a remote area of northern Vermont with even longer, colder winters than we have here—and my husband traveled frequently. When the weather was just too harsh and I didn’t know what else to do, I actually took the boys to a huge used-furniture barn. The boys loved looking at all the ‘treasures’ and the nice man there often let them pick out a little something to take home for free (I still have a commemorative Queen Elizabeth plate we went home with one day; I think I keep it as a reminder of solace). I’m not recommending furniture shopping, of course, let alone high-end antiques shops, but there was something about that cavernous, quirky, topsy-turvy place that worked. Perhaps you’ll discover some other unlikely, unexpected destination that works for you. The nice man has no idea how much he saved my spirit.
- A number of parents with more than one child discussed how hard it can sometimes be to meet the needs of different ages. Two families could work together on this, with one parent staying in an easy, toddler- or baby-friendly place with the tiny ones and the other taking the older ones somewhere or doing an activity with them that is impossible otherwise. It could be a welcome change-of-scene for all.
- For parents who rarely have a break, being able to look forward to a little outside support can ease a long day. For after-school and weekends, we have the most wonderful babysitters in our middle and high schools because they remember how to play! Talk to Robyn Coe in admissions AT 413/528-4015, EXT. 106, for a list of babysitters, and we’ll work on increasing our list of childcare possibilities.
- The discussion prompted ideas for casual group gatherings, such as meeting weekly at a particular playground or attending local child-friendly events together. Everyone is free to show up or not, no pressure.
Two lovely puppet shows are coming soon, brought to you by our own early childhood teachers. This Saturday, March 10, at 10:30 and 11:30 am. “Little Louse and Little Flea” will be performed at Matrushka on Main Street in Great Barrington. Great coffee nearby! And Saturday, April 7, 10:30am in the GBRSS Early Childhood Building, teachers will host a puppet play and play date for current and prospective students—a great opportunity to invite a friend to play in your child’s special place.