A Mom’s Guide to Surviving Cabin Fever

Rainey has pulled down all the books on the bookshelf, inspected the cat’s fat belly for signs of intelligence, unraveled every square inch of toilet paper from its roll, and flung all her food to the floor.

And it’s only 7:00 a.m.

My puffy eyes are staring into the face of another day filled with the same incessant routine of caring for a tornado-like eleven-month-old. But rather than roll over and play dead, I’ve decided to fight back by putting to use what I learned a few years ago at wilderness survival school.

The following guide is dedicated to the stay-at-home mother who, like me, is currently battling a bad case of cabin fever.

1. Be Prepared. First of all, the key to your survival is preparation. Only those mothers who are mentally and physically prepared to survive are more likely to do so. So, before severe tedium sets in, be sure to fully stock your emergency survival kit with your car keys, pajamas, a phone, and a three-week supply of Oreos.

2. Evacuate immediately. Don’t go from a stay-at-home to a stuck-at-home mom. Make up any excuse to get out of the house. For instance, if you’re down to less than 40 diapers, a quarter tube of diaper rash ointment, or half a tub of wipes, get your car keys and drive directly to Target.

You may be tempted to shop at Costco for these items since it’s cheaper to buy in bulk. Resist the urge to do so, no matter how tempting their life-size bucket of soybeans and barrel of licorice sound. One trip to Costco is worth at least a dozen trips to Target, and when it comes to avoiding nail-biting boredom, wasting time is key. Besides, you should have three weeks’ worth of Oreos at home to sustain you.

Also, as luck would have it, cabin fever typically coincides with cold and flu season. This makes for another excellent reason to go to Target. Restock the medicine cabinet, and don’t forget to stock up on laundry soap for those unfortunate diaper blowouts. Be advised, however, if your child is stricken by illness, do the rest of us a favor, and stay home. Bounties are placed on the heads of mothers who insist on taking their germy children to public places.

You can also seek shelter at grocery stores, post offices, malls, and libraries. A word of caution about libraries: if you have an infant who likes to spend the majority of her day pulling down books off your bookshelf, then the library may not be the most suitable option for you. The Dewey Decimal system is not exactly infant-friendly and neither is the old crow behind the circulation desk.

In the event that you are stranded at home by a snot-bubbled baby or subzero temperatures outside, and therefore unable to evacuate your home, then hunker down and continue to take the following measures.

3. Dress in layers. Dig out the most uncomfortable business suit in your closet. Put it on along with a pair of control top pantyhose and the shoes that always used to give your heels blisters at the end of the day. It won’t be long before you’re thanking your sweet bippy that you no longer have to subject yourself to the torture of corporate attire. Once you’ve had enough, change back into your pajamas, but stay dressed in several warm layers. You’ll want to hide the legs you haven’t shaved since August and all the extra weight you’ve gained from staying inside eating Oreos since Thanksgiving.

4. Signal for help. The universal distress signal for stay-at-home moms is the ring of a telephone, so be sure to keep yours handy. Call your husband at work every hour on the hour, briefing him about (1) your weird neighbor who insists on washing his truck daily despite the arctic-like weather conditions outside, and (2) the exaggerated status of your boredom.

Also, maintain contact with other mothers. Misery and homebound mothers love company. Do not, however, call friends who live in warm climates. The last thing you need to hear is how well their outdoor swimming lessons are going or what a nice walk they took through the park. Besides, they won’t be home anyway – they’ll be at the beach.

5. Finally, do not panic. Stay calm, and help yourself by using what you know. And that is, what your routine may currently lack in variety it more than makes up for in content: plenty of wet kisses, giggles, and breathtaking discoveries. Be assured that the mounds of snow and ice at your doorstep will eventually melt away, but the memories you are making will last a lifetime.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear the phone ringing.

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