Cabin fever

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Alt. title: Five Toddler-Friendly Activities for Surviving a Heatwave) Because taking about the weather is where it's at, right? It was hot in Melbourne last week. Really, really hot. Like, 40+ every day (except Monday, which was a measly 34 degrees. Pshaw, I laugh in the face of 34 degrees).

We are lucky that our new house has AC in some rooms, so we shut the doors and pulled the curtains and stayed indoors for the week. And, hey, we didn't die of heat exhaustion, but after a few days locked in a house with a not-really-one-to-stay-home grown-up, a toddler, and a newborn, the cabin fever very nearly finished us off. At one point, Madeleine was reduced to amusing herself and letting out energy by running up and down the house at top speed (which admittedly isn't that fast), yelling. She'd start at the front door, calling out "AAAAAAAAAAAAH!" punctuated by the thump-thump-thump of her chubby little legs, until she reached the back door. "More?" she'd eagerly question me for permission, and then when I said OK she'd race off again to the front door: "AAAAAAAAAAAAH!" At that point I realised I'd better get creative with the indoor activities.

So, shamelessly ripping off the idea from this post on the lovely blog Rockstar Diaries, here are five things we did indoors to make it through the heatwave with our sanity intact.

Day 1. Baking banana muffins

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bananas in our fruit bowl were no match for 40+ degrees, and became overripe overnight. I'm not normally a banana bread or banana muffins kind of person, but needs must. I adapted a banana bread recipe from Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion, and Madeleine and I got down to business while Emily cuddled Harry for us. It must be a super-forgiving recipe because what with the distractions of cooking with an 18-month-old, I made all kinds of mistakes, like forgetting to add key ingredients until much later, not softening the butter, and getting my measurements wrong. Admittedly the muffins didn't rise the way you'd normally want muffins to rise so they weren't all that pretty, but they were absolutely delicious: super moist, very bananary (you are allowed to make up words during heatwaves), and not too sweet. Let me know if you want the recipe and I'll be happy to send it to you.

Day 2. Busting out the new toys

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMadeleine got so many toys for Christmas that I kept some of them hidden for "rotation purposes" to make room in our playroom and keep her entertained. As we started to run out of distractions, I busted out some of those new toys. A simple but effective winner was an alphabet of magnets given to her by her little friend Alice.

Day 3. Finger painting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Paint2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis activity was a BIG winner for about half an hour, until Harry decided (in no uncertain terms) that it was time for a breast-feed. But that would have left me unable to actively supervise Madeleine. The thought of my little girl, covered in paint from head to toe, choosing to leave her little table and roaming the house with paint-covered finger-tips at the ready, was more than I wanted to imagine. So we had to abort this activity earlier than she would have liked, and let's just say peace did not reign in our house that morning.

Day 4. Pretending to be pets

Dog1One of Madeleine's favourite indoor games is to chase the dog, get the dog to chase her, and mimic the dog's behaviour. She pants, she sits, she rolls over, she begs. It's not classy, I know, and I probably won't be winning any World's Best Mother awards for letting her do this. But it makes my daughter SO HAPPY to play Being a Dog. She loves that puppy so, so much.

Day 5. Bed-sheet forts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Fort2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMadeleine REALLY LOVED this fort. We played a lot of hide-and-seek, we had a tea party with Peppa Pig and Baby Suzy, we tickled baby Harry, chased the dog in and out, and lay on cushions just kissing and cuddling each other. I painted a sign that said "Fort Madeleine" for the front and was quite proud of my efforts, but Madeleine absolutely hated it, crying "No! No!" until I took it down and put it away.

Then the cool change came through on Saturday and we all took a grateful walk to the zoo. How do you guys cope when you're trapped indoors?

ps. Gratuitous cute baby Harry shot. Oh, those dimples! Those fat-folds!