5 tips for dealing with cabin fever

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“Do you have a yard? What do you do when you feel claustrophobic? Don’t you feel cramped in such a small space?” The inquiries come from nice friends who are curious about living in tight quarters. Sure, we sometimes catch a little cabin fever, but I have to add that it’s not very often. Caveman agrees. We’ve learned a thing or two in the past couple years about living small. Continue reading to learn how to not feel “cooped up” in a small home.

Sometimes we get cabin fever—four humans with roughly 100 sq. ft. apiece will do that. But honestly its not as often as you might think. Most of the time we don’t really notice that the Shoebox is so small because it’s home.  And we love being home together. I suppose it helps that the kids are young. They don’t take up much space, unless Red is doing his house laps. When he’s running at top speed pushing his yellow dump truck, we just make sure to stay out of the main pathway and our toes are safe. No big deal.

We are not strangers to feeling cooped up though. Every once in awhile I’ll feel cramped and will crave  a little change. But here’s the thing. I’m not sure that the size of the house mandates the frequency of feeling cabin feverish.

I believe that even people who live in large houses can feel trapped and stuffy, so I’m not sure that space alone is the cause of cabin fever. I think the stagnant feeling comes from a number of factors. First off, being stuck in a rut can really make any place feel small. When you’re staring at the same four walls day in and day out, they get boring. That can happen whether you live in 100 sq. ft. or 1,000. Secondly, I’ve noticed that when I feel like I can’t. stand. another. moment. in the Shoebox, the place is most likely messier than I’d prefer. So a couple simple steps can help to keep cabin fever at bay. But before I dish my dazzling advice, let’s explore the symptoms of this widespread ailment.

The first step is recognizing the problem of cabin fever. I did a little research and found the best medical explanation for the condition. This video demonstrates the main symptoms that indicate a case of cabin fever. Haha. I love that. Watch out for family members doing a weird shaky dance or donning sombreros. (Well, for our family the weird shaky dances are commonplace. And we don’t own a sombrero—they take up way too much space!)

No but seriously. How do we deal with cabin fever when we feel a little bit squashed? Consider these five small but significant options:

1. Clean the house: Clutter clogs my soul’s lungs. Any space feels larger when it is free of unnecessary knick-knacks, when the floor looks clean and most things are in their proper place. A simple pick-up does wonders for when I feel a little cooped up in the Shoebox. I do a blitz 10 minute pick- up to give the home a quick clean. Usually that looks like Red helping to pick up some of his toys, while I put laundry away. I’ll move dirty dishes to semi-organized stacks in the sink to free up counter space. I’ll make the bed. I’m telling you, a little straightening goes a long way. The same is true for my hair, but that’s another post for another day.

2. Give something away: Often times my blitzkrieg against clutter produces a pile of items that a) I realize we no longer need b) I’ve been meaning to give away but had misplaced them c) I never really liked in the first place and I’m feeling bold enough to part with them. This pile is immediately bundled in a shopping bag and placed in the back of the car. That way it is out of the house and ready to donate.

3. Rearrange the furniture: When I was a girl in my parents house, I took great pleasure in rearranging my furniture a couple times a year. I loved the way moving my bed and dresser could make my room feel like an entirely new space. Now in the Shoebox we don’t have many options to rearrange, but I still find ways to keep the space fresh. Just this morning I angled Number Two’s crib to be perpendicular to the wall in the boys’ room. That simple move accomplished two very important objectives. First, it put a little bit more space between the toddler bed and the crib with the purpose of preventing Red from practicing his Tarzan swings. He has become quite proficient at standing on his bed, grabbing the edge of the crib and falling into the side. It might not sound like much, but people let me tell you—it. is. awesome. The second benefit of the crib migration is to allow a small gap between the beds for a quiet reading space. (Well, quiet is relative.) I placed a blanket on the floor and my body pillow against the wall and Voilà! An instant toddler reading wonderland was born. Take a minute to move furniture around, people. It will rock your world!

Number Two "reading" in the reading corner

4. Go for a walk, a hike or play outside for an afternoon: Sometimes a mild case of cabin fever can be alleviated with some exercise and sunshine. Actually, a lot of things can be fixed with some fresh air, bright light and a walk. We do actually have a nice, big yard out back, but we rarely use it since it was home to our energetic dog and therefore is a bit of a wasteland. We are not totally without outside space, however. Our family spends a lot of time in a tiny front patio outside of the Shoebox (especially now that we have our darling patio set!) A large flower pot filled with soil doubles as a sandbox. We also take a ton of walks around the neighborhood. This time of year, you’ll be glad for your warm home after an hour or so in the brisk fall weather.

5. Take a mini-vacation overnight, if you can: You don’t have to spend a week in Fiji to recharge and re-love your little space. Often times a simple night away will reset your appreciation for your home. Do your parents live nearby? Can you find a budget-friendly B&B in the area? Escape for a night to get a change of scenery.

None of us are immune to cabin fever every once in awhile, especially during winter months. Do you have a sure-fire way of not feeling cramped or cooped up in your home? Comment below and share it with us!

{Glad to be linked up for Fellowship Friday at Christian Mommy Blogger!}

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  • Valerie
    October 29, 2012

    …though Fiji does sound nice. When is that vacation giveaway??

    • Evelyn
      October 29, 2012

      Let’s make sure you survive Sandy first. 😉

  • Kate O'Dell
    October 29, 2012

    Evelyn I absolutely love your sight and really enjoy your blogs. You never cease to write something I find both relevant and entertaining. Kudos ma’am. Also, your boys are sweeties and you look great! All that being said, I tend to find myself getting into a routine of same spot on the couch, same seat in the kitchen, same side of the bed, and it can definitely get bland. I sometimes do simple things like lay on the floor and stretch while I watch TV instead of sitting in the worn down spot on the couch. Great advice and keep them comin! 🙂

    • Evelyn
      October 29, 2012

      Hi Kate! Thanks for your sweet comment. It’s funny how we are creatures of habit, aren’t we? I also have my own little corners which I am likely to be found in the Shoebox… right now I’m typing on MY side of the bed with Number Two dozing next to me. 🙂 Loved hearing from you, friend!

  • Kate O'Dell
    October 29, 2012

    Site not sight. That’s a terrible typo, and I can’t edit ha ha. Dang 🙁

  • Jacquie
    October 29, 2012

    I am SO gonna get the boys sombreros and you and Caveman are getting Chiquita the Banana hats! hehehehe

    • Evelyn
      October 29, 2012

      Oh you’re so kind, Jacquie. We’ll just go ahead and store them at YOUR house, then shall we?! 🙂

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