Remember the days when you wished you had more time at home to do projects? To enjoy the splendor of your patio, backyard garden, sunroom or family room? We’ve all recently been relegated to our homes. At first, it was a treat—sleeping in a bit—enjoying a 12-step commute downstairs to the computer to start our work-from-home day. What could be better?
Many of us have become remote workers, babysitters, and home-school teachers. It can be very stressful. If you can get through the new routine of the day, what else is there? TV and videos? Always.
But thanks to many essential businesses who have stepped up, there’s now a slew of free or low-cost family entertainment available, to hopefully open up a whole new world for us.
Here are some things to consider as you hunker down: most of these will involve ‘virtual’ fresh air…so put your sneaks on and let’s go. As much as you love or hate it, there are some very good things to see/view/play online that can be very interesting and educational for ALL of the family.
Here are some suggestions that might help you navigate the upcoming weeks:
- Do a puzzle. The more pieces the better. Fun for you and the kids. Don’t have one? Look on resale sites like eBay for gently used or new puzzles at a discount, or check out the vast puzzle selection from Bits and Pieces.
- Start a journal or blog. Maybe this is your time to start that blog that you wanted to write but didn’t have the time for. It is said that everyone has a novel in them waiting to be written … this might be your time.
- Meditate. This may be hard for some, but it’s worth a try. What do you have to lose? 10-20 minutes? You got this! Here are a few free meditation apps.
- Enjoy a facial. Whip yourself up that facial you have been wanting to do. Indulge, moisturize, whatever it takes. Include your significant other, too. Everyone should have good skin, right?
- Look at cute pictures. Social media is chock full of pictures of puppies, kitties and many other cute and cuddly animals. This might be a breath of fresh air for many as we deal with the serious news of the day. Puppies and kitties can soothe the mind—it’s the truth.
- Create a Charcuterie Board. Isn’t that just the tray of cheese you buy from your supermarket? Sort of. Charcuterie (pronounced “shahr-ku-tuh-ree”) is the art of preparing and assembling an assortment of meats that are paired with different accompaniments, such as toast, fruit, cheese, and sauces. Think upscale—if you arrange it all in a decorative way on a nice board, it can be a wonderful dish to bring to a party or display at your next function. Practice on the family first—no parties for now. Let the kids help, too. When things return to normal, you will have the best Charcuterie board because you planned and practiced it. Go you! (It can be pretty healthy too, but don’t tell the kids that.)
- Write letters to family and friends. You can do it. Grab a pen, write that message (it doesn’t have to be long), put the stamp on it and pop it in the mail! It’s old fashioned, but it works. You can also write an email or message them.
- Play board games. It’s fun, it’s free, and you will not regret playing checkers/chess/Yahtzee or any other game with your kids or other family members. You can play Candyland or Chutes and Ladders with kids of all ages and enjoy some great family time. Or, learn a new board game to stave off boredom.
- Clean your closet. Sort through clothes you haven’t worn in a year or two. If they don’t fit or are out of style, put them in a bag and donate to a charitable organization. Same thing for shelves and drawers. Why not tackle the kids’ clothes if you’re on a roll? There may be a neighbor or family member that would greatly appreciate hand-me-downs.
- Organize the Tupperware cabinet. Match lids to containers. And if you can’t? Into the recycle bin it goes.
- Bake cookies—or a cake. Anything that tastes good and makes you feel good. Everyone in your house will love you!
- Knit or crochet. Or make a craft with your kids out of things you have on hand. Make something for Grandma or Grandpa who you can’t see right now and mail it to them. They will treasure it. Take pictures and video and send those to them, too.
- Exercise. Try some at-home Zumba or yoga videos, or download a fitness app. If you have a health club membership, see if they provide online classes.
Do some gardening. This is a great time to start some seeds in a sunny window and let them grow into your summer garden. When you’re out getting groceries, grab a few starter plants from the supermarket or big box store. It will be therapeutic for you and fun for your little helpers. Another tip: did you know that you can actually grow vegetables from the stems of veggies you bought from the store?
- Watch a Broadway show. Everyone’s pulling it together and offering freebies to help our country heal. BroadwayHD.com is offering free trial online access to some of their best shows with a 7-day trial period: Titles like Rent, Cats, Nicholas Nickleby, Peter Pan and more. Watch from the comfort of your home. Available on iOS, AppleTV, Android, Roku, Amazon Firestick and Web.
- Watch a virtual concert. Many concerts have been cancelled, perhaps for quite some time, but you might be able to catch a few on your public broadcasting station or on YouTube and Facebook. Even some symphony orchestras are getting in on the virtual action.
- Watch a movie. If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, there is a full list of movies for your entertainment. Other popular services include Netflix, Hulu and Disney+. And, of course, you could always dig out those DVDs of your old favorites and re-watch them with your kids.
- Take an online course. The eight Ivy League schools are offering hundreds of online courses to the public for free–over 400 courses available online in subjects such as Data Science, Analytics, Politics and more.
- Online education for the kids. Scholastic announced that it has a free digital learning hub intended to “support virtual learning plans.” The curriculum covers English, STEM, Social Studies and Social Emotional learning.
- Go outside. This is your chance to enjoy the fresh air, go for a walk, run, bike ride or hike, providing you maintain social distancing recommendations.
In addition, there are many opportunities to volunteer at the food bank, deliver groceries to the elderly or homebound, or ask a local church how you can serve. So have the courage to reach out, talk to your neighbors, go online, and see what’s available, because an abundance of at-home time doesn’t have to mean boredom.
For more information, your town or city may provide options for activities. More great ideas can be found in this article from Business Insider.
Resources: Empathyencomopassed.com, New Yorker, NPR, USA Today, Wikihow, BuzzFeed Nifty