When sheltering in place, there comes a point when your old methods of passing the time go stale. Yes, once you may have reveled in the prospect of more time to bake sourdough bread, do puzzles, and binge-watch all the shows in your Netflix queue. But now, well, not so much.
So we’ve rounded up a bunch of activities that go beyond the usual suspects. To ward off boredom, keep those brain synapses firing, and maybe even accomplish something productive, give these a try.
1. Learn (or relearn) an instrument
Do you still have that old flute or violin in your closet from when you took lessons in grade school? Does your family have a piano or keyboard just waiting in the living room (or a closet), ready for you to play? Take this time to learn, relearn, or improve your skills on that instrument. You’re sure to find lots of instruction videos on YouTube.
2. Make the best Mother’s Day and Father’s Day presents ever
With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day just around the corner, why not spend this downtime making some sweet gifts? With lots of time, you could make Mom and Dad an incredible gift. Put pressed flowers in a beautiful frame, get creative and make a picture out of pasta shapes, or order some yarn and learn to knit something they can use when the weather cools down.
3. Start a journal or a blog
Things may be extra stressful in this uncertain time, which is why it might be good to write your thoughts down in a journal or to even start a blog about your experience. Putting everything down on paper could help you get peace of mind. Plus, it’ll give you a creative outlet.
4. Learn a language
It’s the perfect time to finally learn a second (or third?) language. You could order some language-learning books or download an app like Duolingo to help you get started. If you have children at home, you could include them in your lessons. Who knows? Maybe you’ll all be able to speak Spanish or German by the end of all this.
5. Edit your list of contacts
It’s probably been a long time since you’ve gone through the contact list on your phone. Take this time to delete the number for your old dentist, or the gym you haven’t gone to since 2009.
While you may find yourself deleting a few numbers, you might also be motivated to reach out to friends you haven’t talked to in a while.
6. Play one of those long, complicated board games
Long days at home are made for board games like Dungeons & Dragons, Monopoly, or Risk. Don’t worry about starting a game you won’t be able to finish before bedtime. You can leave the pieces where they are and finish it tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that.
7. Daily yoga and meditation
With so much uncertainty in the world today, it’s important to be able to take time to relax. Getting into yoga or meditation can be a great way to do that.
There are so many incredible (and free!) yoga and meditation channels on YouTube, including Yoga with Adriene and Boho Beautiful. Start a challenge with a friend or family member to do some yoga every day—or maybe just every week.
8. Try new workouts on YouTube
Ballet barre? Jane Fonda videos? Kickboxing? Break out of your usual workout rut by trying a new type of workout. YouTube is a treasure trove of expert-led workout videos.
9. Host a wine tasting
Have some wine delivered to your home, and be sure to get varietals, or at least brands, that you’d never normally choose. Gather some cheese and crackers to snack on, and give your partner or other drinking-age roommates a wine tasting night like no other. Live alone? Coordinate a wine buy with friends, and hold a group video meeting to discuss.
Take your best shot at describing any underlying flavor notes like chocolate, stone fruit, or oak. For extra credit, study some wine terms to impress everyone at the virtual table. When social distancing is over, you’ll fit right in when you all take a trip to Napa Valley.
10. Learn to mix fancy cocktails
Did the fancy wine night go well? Another fun activity that also involves alcohol is making cocktails. If you can order mixers, great. If not, use whatever juices or sodas you have in the house already. There’s bound to be a drink you can make—or make up—with whatever you have in your kitchen.
If you’re not drinking right now, this could be a perfect time to find out which mocktails taste best.
11. Download all the movies you never had time to watch
Never seen “The Godfather” or “Casablanca”? Now’s the time to finally watch those classics! Rent, buy, or stream the movies you’ve always wanted to see, and load up on popcorn.
12. Have a spa day
Cutting your own hair could be risky, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up on the rest of your beauty regimen. Take a day to do your nails and put on a face mask.
You could make it a group activity with your family or roommates, drinking some cucumber water and watching a movie as you paint your nails. Or connect with friends over Zoom to make it a virtual day of pampering.
13. Attempt a new recipe
Maybe you’re at the level where ordering one of those meal boxes is a big enough cooking challenge. Or perhaps you’re ready to learn how to make French macarons. Either way, giving yourself a challenge in the kitchen can be a fun (and tasty) way to pass the time.
14. Collect your family recipes in a booklet
If you’re not up for learning new recipes, turn your focus to the old ones. Take this time to make your family’s favorites and write them down in a keepsake cookbook. Call family members to make sure you get the measurements right for Grandma’s famous lasagna or Dad’s perfect pancakes.
15. Organize your closet and your kitchen
Now’s the perfect time to rewatch “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” to get some inspiration. You can clean out your wardrobe, organize your cupboard, and even tackle the garage.
16. Write notes
Bring back the old-fashioned handwritten note! Write letters to family, friends, and even residents in retirement homes. If you have kids, make sure they help. Stickers and crayons make letter writing extra fun.
17. Do some creative writing
If you already have your pens and paper out, try writing a story. You could get creative with your own children’s book, start writing that memoir, or even just write a fun story about your favorite outdoor activity.
18. Learn to paint
Channel your inner Bob Ross. Make a self-portrait, paint a picture of your pets, or just work on making your best “happy trees.”
19. Organize Zoom game nights
By now, you’ve probably chatted on Zoom or FaceTime with friends and family. But have you used video streaming to play a game? You can use a social distancing–friendly party game like the Jackbox Party Pack, where you all play from your phones.
20. Make a must-do list for once we’re allowed back outside
It’s fun to have something to look forward to, especially during these tough times. While you’re stuck inside, make a list of all the things you want to see in your city once it’s safe to do so. Some things to put on your list: all your favorite restaurants, an old movie theater, unique workouts like rock climbing, etc.
21. Research your family tree
Take some time to dig in to your ancestry and build a family tree. Call your parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, and collect all the names they can remember. Be sure to ask about each relation and write down any silly stories your family members can remember about your, um, colorful relatives.
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