How Physicians Can Make Time Off Enjoyable Even in Cold Weather


Super-cold weather is challenging, but we've found a few ways to make winter days more fun and more manageable.

We're having our second polar vortex up here in Wisconsin. With the first one, I was concerned about our family's safety if we had to venture outside. With the second one, I am concerned about my husband's sanity if the kids have much time off school. 

This past weekend was very chilly but not artic-freeze level yet. I was under the weather and my husband was burned out from a busy week, so we basically lay around watching movies and playing video games. By Sunday evening, everyone was frustrated, antsy, bored, and lethargic. It can be challenging to burn off energy, have fun, and keep from going crazy as the cold months seem to drag on. That said, we've found a few ways to make winter days more fun and more manageable.

I remain amazed by the creativity of some people in inventing projects and games to keep their children occupied while inside. This past weekend, when I wasn't feeling truly terrible, I roused myself long enough to implement some ideas I've read about in Family Fun magazine or on Pinterest or which I borrowed from my children's preschool teachers. 

We played some indoor carnival games - including a version of Skee ball using a cardboard box, an egg carton, and ping pong balls and a tabletop curling game using straws and pompom balls. I dug out a box of those environmentally friendly Styrofoam pieces that are made out of cornstarch and left the box along with a damp sponge on the kitchen table. We now have an entire village and several families living on our kitchen floor, all made out of cornstarch. Tonight, anticipating that school would be canceled tomorrow and that my husband will have an especially long day at home with the kids, I tried to burn up some energy with them this evening. I had my son do my exercise routine with me and then all four kids joined me for a living room dance party. I have to say that it wasn't only the kids who benefited.

I think the challenges of super-cold weather and the way that it can hamper everything from our school or work schedule to our exercise routine can be seen with other unexpected and uncomfortable events - whether that's sickness, a job change, having your in-laws visit for a protracted period, or other types of life-altering or life-hindering circumstances. We start limiting what we can do, we get bored, we get lazy, we start getting frustrated with ourselves and with each other. 

Instead of succumbing to cabin fever - of the literal or figurative type - we can look for opportunities for fun, we can move our bodies to elevate our mood, we can shake up the routine and inject novelty, and we can appreciate the change in our typical schedules and plans that the unexpected brings.

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