Featured blogger: Briana Hope Willis
So, mostly likely, you’re confined to your home right now due to the current pandemic taking place! It’s scary. It’s stressful. And I don’t care if you’re introverted or extroverted, social distancing takes its toll on everyone after so long [coming from a hardcore introvert]. Though it seems like we can’t talk about anything else other than Coronavirus anyway [reasonably so], so maybe it’s not so bad sometimes. 😅
ANYWAY, despite our lack of control over everything outside of our homes, we can control what goes on inside. We can control how we respond to the chaos taking place. And we can choose to make the most out of this extra personal time we have, whether alone or with our families. So I’ve compiled a list of activities that we are doing or planning to do to keep ourselves feeling happy and healthy [mostly mentally, but physically too!] for however long this quarantine lasts! Hopefully you can find at least one or two new ideas to suit your needs and keep your mind at bay.
An obvious good choice for any day! It doesn’t have to be anything hardcore. Heck, I’m out-of-shape and 26 weeks pregnant, so I’m definitely not intensely training. I’m alternating days with these circuit workouts [one day, 2nd trimester; next day, third trimester]. But even donating just 15-20 minutes each day doing some form of exercise will not only be beneficial to your physical health, but also your mental health! In the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Okay, the last part is a bit exaggerated for this. But people can go crazy when cooped up for too long, so just thought I’d keep it. 🤪
P.S. If you have kids, include them. Give them a mat, mini or pretend weights, or just do stretching sessions. Ours love participating, and setting them up to do so is way easier and less stressful then fighting them to give you space.
2. BAKE COOKIES
Or pie. Or pumpkin bread [who cares that we just hit spring?]! Not the healthiest thing for your body, but they’re good for your soul! Plus, it’s another thing the kids will love to do with you, so you don’t have to look for “free time” from them. We made chocolate chip cookies last week and pumpkin bread yesterday! Just trying to balance it out with daily nutrient-filled smoothies. 🙈 You can even make sugar cookies and decorate them to occupy the littles for longer. Who says those are limited to the holidays???
3. PICK UP AN OLD HOBBY OR LEARN A NEW ONE
Used to play guitar and wanna freshen up? Have a keyboard under your bed because you’ve been wanting to learn and just haven’t? [Okay, I’m talking to myself…] Been wanting to learn how to use your DSLR camera on manual mode? Good news! The internet is still available to us and you can find all the information you need to teach yourself almost anything for free. If you don’t know where to start as far as resources to learn whatever hobby you’re interested in, let me know what is below in the comments and I will try to help you out!
4. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Kind of related to the previous suggestion, but still. Check out Duolingo. It’s free, and I’ve used it for years to maintain my knowledge in Spanish! If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll just think it’s a game and want to watch/participate. Either way, their presence has never interrupted my learning with that app!
5. DECLUTTER YOUR HOME
If decluttering was a love language, it’d be mine. We go through our things and donate items at least once a month, even if it’s just a couple items. Throw out garbage, go through clothes, kitchen items, decor, toys, everything. Get rid of the stuff you can’t remember the last time you used and items you don’t really care about. I’ll write a whole post on how we live minimally soon, but for now, just do what you can! The less “stuff”, the less mess. The less mess, the less stress. Then…
6. DEEP CLEAN YOUR HOME
What better time to do this than when there’s a virus going around, you need extra immune support, and you’ve got extra free time? I dunno. But I’ll let you know when I do, because I’m actually procrastinating on this one. 😂 It WILL get done though.
7. READ A BOOK
When’s the last time you just sat down a read a book? This might have to be a thing for after the kids are in bed, but it’s healthy for the brain and definitely worth finding time for! My collection mostly consists of self-improvement books, but I did just buy The Book Thief because I’ve heard good things about that book for years now. Just make a pact with yourself to read 20-30 minutes before you turn on Netflix or whatever and you’ll be golden.
8. PLAY BOARD GAMES
Throw it back to the good ole days where we weren’t staring at screens all the time and whip out Sorry or Monopoly or even Backgammon [that’s mine and Braxton’s game]. I’m seriously about to try and teach Brayden how to play Sorry. Sure, he’s only three-and-a-half years old, but I figure it’s good counting practice. Now just wish me luck as I try to explain to Brax that he can’t get competitive with a toddler.
9. COLOR WITH CHALK
We do this every single day. A good way to soak up some Vitamin D on the sunny days, but we also have a chalkboard indoors [$5 on FB marketplace, but I’m pretty sure it’s this IKEA one and is still super cheap] that we use for free-drawing and learning. It keeps the kids occupied for a bit, and for even longer if you [at least, occasionally] interact with them. You can also create games for them like hopscotch to entertain them longer!
10. PLAY DRESS-UP
Let the kids raid your closet and put on a fashion show for you. It’s a hit every time. The cuteness is worth the mess, I promise.
11. BUILD A FORT
Grab all your sheets and light blankets and build a fort! You can play games inside, watch a movie, read books, whatever, and it automatically makes everything more fun for people of all ages!
12. HAVE A MOVIE MARATHON
We personally have to be careful with screen-time because our kids’ behavior starts diminishing if they have it on a regular-basis. However, we can totally pull off a movie night about once a week filled with yummy snacks and good snuggles. Highly recommend it.
13. GATHER YOUR CARDBOARD BOXES
You can create things from them, paint/color on them, or glue random crafty things to them… I love that we use Parasol Co diapers because the boxes the diapers and wipes come in are made to double as activity boxes for your littles anyway! Yesterday, the kids pretended the boxes were a train for a bit, then we turned it into a basketball hoop, then a soccer goal… The options are endless! You can even incorporate boxes into the indoor obstacle course [#19] as tunnels!
14. RECONNECT WITH YOUR SPOUSE/SIGNIFICANT OTHER
I’m willing to bet that we all get stuck going through the motions of life from time to time and forget to really connect with our significant other. Now’s a good time to plan a home date after the kids go to bed and have a conversation beyond the outline of each other’s day. We like to use this question game whenever we need a little help!
15. PLANT A GARDEN
Another way to get that Vitamin D in. Get outside and plant some flowers to lift your mood, or some fruits and veggies to stay stocked on food [rhymed mostly unintentionally]. But really, I’ve been strongly considering potting some bell peppers, jalapeños, and other fresh items we typically consume a lot for a while. Now, with everything going on, it seems like even more of a good idea. Plus, Brayden and Knightly absolutely love helping me plant things!
16. PAINT FLOWER POTS
Make that garden, or your indoor plants for that matter, extra special with painted terra cotta pots by you and/or your littles!
17. PAPER BAG PUPPETS
Get some brown paper bags, markers, glue and googly eyes, and you’ve got entertainment and laugher for hours with toddlers!
18. MAKE A PIZZA
Who doesn’t love pizza? This can be that in-home date night I mentioned or something to do as a family. Get creative with toppings, infuse your home with the glorious pizza smell, and feed your soul. I may or may not be drooling a little now, but I’m just gonna blame it on the weird extra salivating that comes with pregnancy.
19. INDOOR OBSTACLE COURSE
Being cooped up at home can be really challenging with kids, especially ours who seem to have endless amounts of energy. So creating your own indoor obstacle course can be a fun way for them to get that energy out. Just make sure it’s done safely of course! I might actually purchase some cheap mats, and maybe even a mini trampoline, for our kids since Brayden is gonna be missing gymnastics for who knows how long. I can come back and link those here once I get them for anybody interested. Otherwise, just use what you have! Chairs, pillows, couch cushions, cardboard boxes, etc. Then use your imagination and come up with a simple, fun circuit for them. B and Knightly are literally entertained for like 20 minutes just by running under their easel. I have faith you can create something awesome.
You can use canvases or poster paper and paint some new artwork for your walls, or get some adult coloring books! You can even save money on those things and just paint rocks! This is such an amazing creative outlet and feels so calming. And of course the kids can participate as well!
21. LEARNING WORKBOOKS
Brayden isn’t in school yet, but there was this Amazon Prime deal going on for a couple kids books I bought and I got to pick something out for free. I chose this Pre-K Workbook and Brayden absolutely loves it. He always asks if we can “learn” or “do the workbook”, which makes me so happy to hear that he wants to learn. But I’m even happier that I’ve gotten to watch him apply those new skills, such as writing his letters, in other daily activities where I’m not guiding him, like drawing with chalk outside! If you’re like me and don’t care about hanging on to the workbook pages [mostly], you can cut them into pieces and let the kids repurpose them for collages.
22. MAKE YOUR OWN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Use empty toilet paper/paper towel rolls, glue/tape construction paper to one end, throw in some rice, cover the other end, decorate the outside if you please… Boom. State of the art instrument to your little one right there! Pots and pans are an option as well. You can pretty much make an “instrument” out of anything; just be prepared and know the noise level you’re signing up for so you don’t get frustrated.
23. CLEAN PLANT LEAVES
I’m the worst about cleaning my plant leaves regularly so they can soak in the sunshine and grow. Buuuut I did finally do this yesterday and they already look happier!
24. BALLOONS, BALLOONS, BALLOONS
Need I say more? I don’t do this often because it’s a bit wasteful, but balloons can be a nice option to have on hand. You only have to blow up a couple, and depending on the kid, they will find entertainment from it for a LONG time. Cheap and easy entertainment.
25. FACETIME/CALL YOUR LOVED ONES
Remember, you’re not the only ones in the world who are cooped up. Your friends and family might be missing that social time too. And odds are, now’s the best time to catch up with them. Thanks to modern technology, you can do that with the press [touch] of a button!
26. POTTY TRAIN
Okay, not exactly a relaxing thing to do during this time, but it is productive! Plus, with everybody hoarding diapers and whatnot, it’s definitely not the worst idea. The best way to potty train is to stay at home, and right now, you don’t have a choice. If you’re little one isn’t ready though, no pressure! But I just wanted to share because I think I’m gonna start with Knightly again. A major reason I gave up is because I didn’t wanna stay home. 😅
27. GO FOR A WALK
Get outside and go for a peaceful walk! I don’t know about you, but fresh air and sunshine can make my entire mood better almost instantly. Honestly, it proves true for our whole family. Plus, it’s another good way for the littles to get their energy out if you have kids!
28. HAVE QUIET TIME
This can look like many things for many different people. But for me, this is Jesus time. Praying, reading my Bible, grounding myself in the peace of God amidst the chaos even normal daily life can bring. The kids can usually entertain themselves by “reading” their Bible books or coloring, but sometimes they’re just not getting along. During those times, I wait for Knightly’s nap [Brayden has been boycotting naps now for like a year…] when B typically can handle independent play for at least 20 minutes for me to get this time in.
29. CATCH UP ON SELF CARE
Yes, self care is more than facials. But girl, sometimes ya need a facial! A hot bath. Relaxing music. Painted nails. Candles. Whatever this looks like for YOU. Take a little bit of time to just pamper yourself, even if that just means spending extra time in the shower/bath to shave your legs for the first time in what feels like forever. Make sure you’re giving yourself time regularly to recharge. You’re more than just your child[ren]’s caregiver and entertainer. But depending on the age of your kids, and if you’re feeling up to it, they may wanna join in on a couple of these things as well!
30. HAVE A DANCE PARTY
When in doubt, dance it out! Overwhelmed? Dance it out. Bored? Dance it out. There is no bad time to dance it out. I warned you on my “About” page that I may watch too much Grey’s Anatomy. But HEY, their “dance it out” method works. Even when it was just me and Brax, we seriously had dance parties [of two] on a regular basis! Our playlist may have changed to the soundtracks of Frozen 1 AND 2 since then, but it’s still effective!
I know this a hard time for everyone, some more than others. But I hope at least one of these ideas I listed can help contribute to getting you through these days of feeling a little trapped and overwhelmed. And remember, we’re all in this together. Let’s chat with each other, pray for each other, make new friends through this online community, share new ideas to get through this time. If you have anymore ideas to add to these, drop them below in the comments. If you need a friend and are feeling uneasy, comment. If you need some kind of supplies and things are out of stock, comment [maybe I, or someone else, can help you out]. Whatever it is, let’s be there for each other the best we can.