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5 creative ways to kick Sandy-induced cabin fever

Post-Sandy cabin fever is kicking into high gear for many of the thousands of families dealing with storm aftermath. With schools closed, limited power and impassable roads, staying inside is the order of (yet another) day -- and perhaps many more to come. Thanks to TODAY Moms who are either going through the experience now or have survived similar situations in the past, here are five great tips for keeping storm-weary kiddos occupied.

1. Hunting and gathering.  Nothing like killing some time with an indoor scavenger hunt, says Katrina Keely Stanford. She writes: “On snowy days I used to hide a little cowboy finger puppet in the living room and see who could find him... for mixed ages I used something different for each age group and they would find their own [item].  A variation on this: Make a list of household items, which you have hidden, and have the kids look for all of them.  (Grocery stores and malls are also great for this, if you are lucky enough to have one nearby that’s open.)

2. Taping the boredom away. Lisa Flowers suggests creating an indoor hopscotch game, by using “painter's tape to mark off squares.”  We love the idea of painter's tape and its myriad uses. Create a “bowling alley” by marking a lane with tape. Then use empty aluminum cans as bowling pins and try to hit strikes and spares with a tennis ball.

3. Overcome an obstacle (course). Several TODAY Moms mentioned creating indoor obstacle courses. Christine Armington’s family was without power for two weeks after a 2005 Florida hurricane and says:

“We made countless different Hotwheels games, constructing obstacle courses out of household items. We used flashlights to make shadow puppet shows, kept batteries in the radio for our daily (sometimes thrice daily) "Music Hour", moved their dresser and toys into the living room so we could turn their bedroom into a "gymnasium" so they could practice tumbling, standing on their head and other things they were not normally allowed to do inside.”

4. Build a sand castle.  Sure, you can always make homemade playdough, but how about homemade sand? Melody Tooker advises parents to “Get a dishpan out, put in flour and a few drops of baby oil. It makes the flour pliable like being at the beach. You can use cups for flour castles.” Here’s another recipe, in which you will need actual sand. (Superstorm Sandy has probably provided plenty of that.)

5. Forts, fun and field-trips. Stephanie Caruso has “been there, done that” considering she is from New Orleans and weathered many hurricanes. But she says

“We got some new tricks last month during Isaac and no power for a week: Besides the usual board games, and junk food eating, we did some fun fort-building in the living room, involved the kids in the house repairs as long as it was safe, got our garden ready for winter, and went for a lot of car rides to the McDonald's playplace. If you have one near you that is open, I highly suggest that you go ASAP, it is a sanity saver!”

Got other ideas to beat cabin fever? Share them on our TODAY Moms Facebook page.

Kavita Varma-White is a mom of two who has had her share of hurricane-induced cabin fever while living in South Florida for several years. She now happily lives in Seattle, where hurricanes hardly ever happen.

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