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Cold-Cabin Fever? Act To Avoid Hot Tempers, Burnout

Mon., Nov. 25, 1996

The kids are home, for the sixth day straight. The TV doesn’t work. It’s cold. Their voices seem to be getting louder by the minute.

Let’s not snap like the tree limbs outside.

Often at times of stress, such as during this ice storm and its aftermath, the ones we care most about are the ones who take the brunt of our frustration.

What are some signs that our patience is wearing thin? What can we do to be sure that our home is an emotionally safe place for our family?

It may be natural to become irritable - but there are ways to minimize that irritability.

Take time-outs from the kids. Lock yourself in the bathroom until you can calm down. Go to a friend’s house to take a hot shower. Take several deep breaths before taking any action. Count to 10, in pig Latin. Laugh.

It may be time to take a walk - as long as you keep away from falling limbs and power lines. Volunteer to take the neighbors’ kids for a hour or so and ask the neighbors to do the same. Sometimes, a larger group is easier to involve in a game of Monopoly or Clue.

Call Grandma and see what people did in the years before television. Call that friend in Arizona just to commiserate. Or, if you cannot take the noise any more, call the professionals such as the Mental Health Clinic (838-4651) or Spokane Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Center (458-7445).

It’s OK. Real parents aren’t perfect.

Cut out the booze. Alcohol is a depressant. That short high is just temporary. Long term, you will feel even more irritable.

Think of it this way: Noisy kids are worse with a hangover.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create positive memories for you and the kids about the ice storm. Try these:

String popcorn and cranberries or make paper chains for the Christmas tree.

Make holiday cards from old cards or magazines.

Make Rice-Krispie treats (melt necessary ingredients over the fireplace hearth).

Play charades.

Build a fort or tent in your living room with old blankets and sheets.

Have a family foot-soak - if you have warm water.

Play a guessing game. Put jigsaw puzzles together - share with neighbors.

Jump rope. Learn or make up some new jump-rope jingles.

Rotate being boss of the family for five minutes.

Make a totem pole out of tin cans, construction paper, newspaper, wrapping paper or paper bags. Ask individuals to contribute a decorated portion to the structure.

Pass a book around and read it aloud. If your tape recorder is working, tape the story as it is read and plan how to incorporate different sounds into the story.

Have kids tape different sounds and try guessing what they are.


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