staying busy; staying inside

 Today’s blog post is brought to you by my wonderful mother. If you know anything about me, you know I thrive on creativity… probably because my parents instilled it in me from a young age. Here are a few ideas for staying busy in quarantine from my mom (my hero) herself.

 

Within a week of school ending each year, I would hand my children a blank notebook with instructions to write down any activity they might want to do during summer break. The activities could be as far-fetched as a family trip or as simple as a picnic in the park, and often included everything in between. We never checked off all the ideas, but we always had fun doing some of them. And we had a handy list of ideas when the occasional “I’m bored” syndrome arose.

Since many of us are required to stay at home for a time, ideas for new and interesting activities are popping up across social media. The best tactic to stay healthy both mentally and physically during this confinement is mixing purposeful activity and entertainment. Too much of one or the other throws off a healthy balance. Watching the media relay only bad news for hours on end can be depressing. Step away and do something new!

Exercise. Many workouts are being streamed for free; for example, Planet Fitness is offering free at-home workout classes to members and non-members on its facebook page. Go for a walk. One older couple (ages 88 and 89) have resorted to walking around their house because it is still too cold outside early in the morning, and they can’t head to the mall for their usual walk. They go around the living room and up and down the stairs for 20 minutes, getting in their workout without leaving the house.

Clean. Do all the deep cleaning you usually don’t have the time to accomplish. Clean out the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. Do your spring cleaning, wash the windows, and sort through the closet. You can’t physically donate to many charities right now, but you can box up items for when you can bring them away. Outside, you can tackle the garage and rake the yard.

Play board games. Or better yet, make up a game. This was one of our daughter’s strengths. You never knew what game they were playing because it was made up that day. It wasn’t unusual to see buckets and baskets and tennis racquets and whiffle balls scattered around the yard for some sort of contest.

Watch a web cam. If you like animals, a number of zoos across the country have web cams set up. The San Diego zoo offers several live cams of their animals. The
popular panda cam shows archived footage. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has web cams for many of its sea creatures and a camera monitoring the Bay itself. Have fun watching the sea otters frolic or relax watching the waves crashing onshore.

Build a blanket fort and watch a movie, which was always a favorite with my girls when they were younger. Pull some chairs close together, toss a blanket over them and fill the inside with pillows. Change into comfy clothes (if you’re not already). Grab some snacks and settle in for a family movie.

Have a picnic outside, or spread a blanket and do it in the living room if it’s not nice enough outdoors. Picnics made the activity list every year and was one of the activities we happily repeated throughout the summer.

Experiment. Check the Fun with Weather section on www.weather.com for interesting experiments, including how to make a snowstorm, how to make rain and how to make a cloud. ScienceFun in Cary, NC, has a variety of child-friendly, simple experiments posted on its website.

Learn a new language. Download Babbel and start learning to speak another language. Another free language app is duolingo. My daughter used this app to prepare for a trip a couple years ago, mastering some basic French phrases in a matter of weeks.

Read a book. Many libraries are physically closed, but they have online books to download. If you prefer the good old hand-held version, you can purchase books online and have them delivered. I confess I recently ordered 14 books online just to make sure I had something to read for the next couple weeks.

Visit a museum, virtually. Explore sites far from home via virtual tours and gaze at some of the most famous artwork in the world. It may take a few tries to master the navigation, but it’s worth the effort. A few of my favorites are the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, Italy.
Even if you can’t step out physically, you can step up and try something new!

A few other suggestions I might add:

Disney is doing their best to keep magic alive right now. Check out their social media pages for recipes for your favorite snacks (like their famous churros or Dole Whip), or hop on YouTube to watch ride-throughs of your favorite theme park rides.

Try an art tutorial online. There are plenty available for all skill levels and you’d be surprised how much you can learn from a couple sessions!

Learn to code at Codecademy.

Hit up your friends for a virtual movie night using the Google Chrome app Netflix Party. You can watch at the same time and even chat while watching.

Write a letter or two!

Have a picnic date in your car. Pack a to-go lunch, drive somewhere scenic, roll down your windows and chat.

I’ll also admit I’ve gotten sucked into some games and apps in my free time too. For my phone, I play Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, BitLife, Adventure Capitalist, Downwell, The Sims, KleptoCats and Song Quiz. I also recently bought a Nintendo Switch and have spent more time than I’ll say playing the new Animal Crossing game.

It’s also good to treat yourself to a little self-care, especially if you’ve been in sweatpants for the past month. Give yourself a mani-pedi, relax, try a hair or face mask, take a bath and recreate a spa in your home as much as possible (until they open up again).

Don’t forget to look after yourself and others in this difficult time! Stay healthy!

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