Positive Parenting in Uncertain Times.Part 5 : Cabin Fever

Tue May 12th 2020

Cabin Fever – are you feeling trapped?

The past seven weeks it’s been a little bit like being on a cruise ship, (bear with me) you’ve had your cabin (your bedroom) you have had your ship (your house) you have had your deck to walk around (your local area) you may have created your own entertainment, nice meals and baking. You may have had fun socializing with people in your bubble, people on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook, twitter, snapchat etc…BUT now Cabin fever may be starting to kick in. This hasn’t been the cruise ship you have always dreamt of.

In fact, it’s nothing like it!

You just want to get off, get out, expand your bubble, your entertainment, your social group, your four walls. If you feel like this, imagine how your child or young person feels still trapped on this ship, in this bubble with their parents/caregivers.

Especially young people who thrive on that socialization and face to face of seeing their peers and friends. What about your son who has been stuck with his sisters, no contact from other boys or your daughter who has been stuck with her brothers, no contact from girls?

At first it may have been adventure. I’m pretty sure there has been some positives that have come out of this, family time spent playing board games, cook offs, singing, family exercise, bike rides, walks and good communication.

Even home schooling would have been (and possibly still is) fun, different, like a mini adventure. You may be more aware of your child’s knowledge and education level they are at; you are realizing how their brain works around learning and you are also possibly realizing what you are not so good at! Learning has changed since your days at school and those math’s questions aren’t as easy to solve without a calculator! It certainly may be placing additional pressure on you as your child asks for “help” on their school projects.

Little things that you do or your child does may now start to bug you, you may all be getting under each other’s feet, you may be finding the little things are more irritable than before, your young person doesn’t want to be associated with you at the moment, they are ‘so over’ being around their parents/caregivers, patience levels have dropped, the smiles are less, the fun is disbanding as ‘changes’ around levels occur and along with that the cabin fever kicks in more and more.

That feeling of being jealous may start to kick in, you might be quietly envious or jealous of your husband/wife that heads out to work in the morning, they are getting their time out of the house, the bubble, the cabin. They are experiencing life outside of the seven weeks locked in. This can cause some challenging conflicts, atmospheres and dynamics.

That feeling of being trapped can be overwhelming, it may take your breath away, your ‘habits’ are increasing, your child/young person spends more time on social media, computers, in their room. You find yourself starting to ‘snap’ at the little things. How do you escape?

Continue to communicate with your partner, your family, your children. Talking, being honest about feelings is so important, even though at times you don’t want to hear some of the spoken things that are said.

Some activities that might support you as a family could be:

Appreciation jars

Create an appreciate jar start making it a tradition that once or twice a week as a family you all write down one thing you are appreciative of that week. At least once a month read out your appreciations and stick them into a book.

Cabin Fever

Draw your cruise ship – what have been the best things about these last seven weeks, it’s easy to forget the positives that have come out of this isolation period once cabin fever sets in. Remember the laughs, stories shared, jokes, meals cooked, new skills learnt. Remember too, the not so cool things about the last seven week -it’s important to discuss these too but not that these overshadow the best stuff.

Garden project

Create a vegetable garden, sensory garden with herbs or a wildflower garden. Have Fun playing outside as a family. Set garden projects for home learning. Notice the change in seasons, play in the leaves, feel and hear the leaves crunch in your hands, look at the different colours. Play and dance in the rain.

Paint rocks

Paint rocks place them around your garden or community to invite others to smile.

Camping outside

Set up a tent, build a campfire to roast marshmallows and hotdogs.

Create a board game

As a family create a board game based on the past seven weeks in you bubble

Poem/Creative writing

Create a piece of writing describing your ‘time’ in your bubble

Write a letter to your future self

Parents/caregivers write a letter to your child/ren to for the future

Create a time capsule

You could create a great time capsule of this moment in time –email info@idfnz.org.nz to recieve a printed Time capsule booklet which you can use as a template. 


You are Awesome’, talks about being positive, using growth mindset to focus on the positives and plan with a view to achieve. This book is great for children, youth and adults. 

World Health Organization

This has some fabulous ‘advice’ sheets on supporting with parenting during this time, how to support your child/young person that is stressed/sad etc.

Don't have  a printer at home? email info@idfnz.org.nz and we can send you a copy by mail.