Social distancing. Self-quarantine. Closures. Work from home. School at home. Coronavirus. COVID-19.
I don’t have to tell you that these are the buzz words of the world right now. And I know it can be scary. For many of us, fear and anxiety don’t just stem from the threat of illness, but from the impact that this pandemic has already made on our everyday lives and – maybe most of all – fear of the unknown. However, as a nation, one thing is clear: it’s time to huddle in and wait for the storm to pass, to take life a bit more slowly and with more caution for now. It’s time to stay home for awhile.
For some of you, this particular facet of the pandemic is changing your life in a big way. For example, maybe this is the first article you’re reading on a Website for homeschooling parents because you suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself falling under the category of “homeschooling.” Or it could be that you’re a super extrovert who is already starting to go a little stir crazy from living the introvert life. Maybe you suddenly feel like your day completely lacks structure and purpose, and it’s getting you down or stressed. I’m here to tell you that, for as many uncertainties as there are during this time, there are just as many ways that you can make each day fulfilling, fun and purposeful. In this article, I’m going to share 10 ways that you can live your best life while you’re staying put at home.
You may be wondering why I feel like I can offer these tips. I mean, the unofficial lockdown has only been going for a few days, right? How could anyone really know what they’re talking about at this point? Well, the reason is pretty simple. Practically speaking, the self- quarantine just doesn’t affect my schedule as much as it does for many. A few years ago, I moved from a suburb of Atlanta to a much more remote, rural area. Since then, I’ve earned an MA remotely, been able to start working from home, and have started homeschooling, too. It was a big life switch to being “in” much more often than “out.” Now, I’m not a total hermit or anything like that. I actually really do like people and have friends. I love going places, trying new things, and traveling. My daughter has regular outings and friends, too. However, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of my average day, I’m at home a lot.
And truthfully, being home more has taught me that I can actually be more productive and creative here than anywhere else, and that I really enjoy setting my own structure/schedule. It’s taught me more about how to create meaningful quality time with others, think outside of the box, and appreciate the simple things. Granted, choosing to do things from home is a bit different from the national quarantine we’re under. I get that. However, I feel like we could all use a few reminders of the ways that these days at home can be meaningful. If you’re struggling right now, that’s totally understandable. However, I sincerely hope that doing some of these things will help you find joy and fulfillment during this stressful time and live the best life you can while staying home and staying healthy.
10 Ways to Live Your Best Life While Staying Home
1. Create the shape of your day.
When you’re at home for long periods of time, sometimes it can feel like there is both everything and nothing to do. Don’t let it be that way. Avoid the tedium by mapping out a purposeful “shape” for each day, determined by your priorities. You know what I’m not calling this? “Make a schedule.” I mean, sure, you can create a tight schedule for each day, if you really feel like you need it. However, I think that one of the nice things about being home is that you don’t have to have the same kind of rigidity that you otherwise would. So instead of making an hour-by-hour schedule, maybe try this: take a piece of paper and brainstorming about some of the “categories” of things you’d like to do or accomplish while staying home each day.
Some of these categories might be, “helping kids with school,” or “doing work from home.” Maybe there are some house projects you’d like to do, or some creative projects you’ve been wanting to try. Just write down whatever 1-3 “categories” you’d consider to be an important use of your time that day. Once you’ve done that, write down a few, achievable tasks you can do for each category, each day. Don’t write too much. Keep it realistic, so that you know you’ll be able to achieve the entire list. This way, each day feels productive and purposeful, but also relaxed. When you get in the rhythm of shaping each day according to the various “categories” that matter, it’s very fulfilling.
2. Enjoy the Quality Time
The unique situation we find ourselves in right now with COVID-19 is forcing us to slow down and stop “going” all the time. However, this can come with a big blessing: more quality time with family. I know a lot of us may be feeling stressed out, and that can cause tension even in the closest families. However, let’s try to counteract that by being intentional with this unexpected family time together. For instance, try planning some special game nights, fun projects, or even a camping trip in the backyard. One fun thing my daughter and I did this week was dress up like princesses and run around in the yard while my husband took some photos. It’s not something we’d normally do. It was simple, but special. I know she’ll remember it. This period of time could be scary for your kids, or it could be the time when you create fun memories that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Even though we might feel like we should be doing a million other things, it’s okay and actually really good to slow down and prioritize quality time with our families right now.
3. Read, Read, Read
Reading is the best way to travel while staying home! Now is the perfect time to dive into some of those anticipated books on your nightstand. Personally, reading is a form of therapy for me. I love learning about new places and perspectives and getting new ideas for things. At home, you can even have an audiobook playing while you tackle chores or projects. Have you always loved the idea of reading aloud as a family, but have found your evenings were always too full of other plans? Now is the perfect time to make reading together a new tradition for your family (and your homeschool). Depending on your childrens’ ages and interests, you might even want to start a whole series, like Little House on the Prairie, The Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter. Once you’re hooked on a series, you’re more likely to keep up this awesome habit once things are back to normal!
4. Get Outside
Being outside always makes life better, and it’s even more important when you’re spending a lot of time at home. Make sure to get outside every day to walk, garden, or just lay in the sun. You can do school with the kids outside (or make outdoor exploration a mandatory part of school!) You could even do something fun and creative, like a scavenger hunt or a family music video challenge, that takes place entirely outside. And if you’re just really eager to see new sights, you can go find a hiking trail, park or outdoor area where social distancing will be easy to maintain. It’s amazing how much a little time in the sun can recharge you.
5. Emphasize Creativity
Embracing creative tasks challenges you to think about things in new ways , which can be both calming and inspiring. For these reasons, I suggest finding something creative to do while you’re staying home– as an individual and as a family! This year, my family started the tradition of Monday watercolor nights. Doing this automatically made Monday evenings (which were previously “blah”) seem fun and exciting. We’ve all enjoyed learning new things about watercolor painting and seeing our skills grow. Your family might want to try learning to play an instrument together, or singing songs from musicals, or baking, or making your own YouTube channel! There are a million ways to get creative. However you choose to embrace creativity in your home, it will be a good thing for everyone involved.
6. Challenge Yourself in the Kitchen
Are you all stocked up on food staples and avoiding unnecessary trips to the grocery store? If so, right now is the perfect time to create some fun kitchen challenges for yourself and your family. If you’ve ever seen any popular cooking competition shows, you know that contestants are often give the same ingredients and challenged to create something interesting and delicious with them. Bring that challenge to your own kitchen and see what kinds of adventurous recipes your family can create with what you already have available. Sure, the recipes won’t all be winners, but you can definitely all have fun experimenting in the kitchen (and how badly can you mess up rice, really?) Is “The Great British Baking Show” is much more your speed than “Cutthroat Kitchen?” Baking is definitely another way that you can get really creative in the kitchen right now, especially since the ingredients for most baked goods are cheap and long-lasting.
7. Movie Marathon
We all have those iconic movies that we look forward to sharing our kids for the first time, and to enjoying together as a family. However, sometimes it can be hard to find the right time to do it. Well, now is that time. Whether your family is into Star Wars or Marvel (or something else altogether), it’s the perfect time to enjoy some cozy evenings together with lots of popcorn and a good list of movies.
8. Make a Hygge Home
If you’re not familiar with the word “hygge,” it’s a Danish term that is synonymous for all things cozy, comfortable and contented. Right now (and anytime, really), that’s probably exactly how you want your home to feel. Since you are spending more time at home than usual, it’s the perfect time to do a few things around the house that have been on your mind for awhile. Obviously, it’s probably not the best time to demo your kitchen. However, you can sort through old clothes, organize your books, and think about ways to make certain spaces in your home more calm and cozy. I already know what space I’m going to work on: my front porch. It’s a mess, but I know that it could be a relaxing place to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. By tackling it, I know I’ll simultaneously “get it off my list,” and create a haven that will bring me joy. What about you? What’s your “hygge home project?”
9. Find New Ways to Connect with Others
Isn’t it awesome that we live in a time and place in which we can easily stay connected with people from all around the world? Right now is a great time to discover different ways to stay in touch with others. From making social media videos to writing old-fashioned letters, people everywhere are making a more deliberate effort to connect with old and new friends. If you’re feeling isolated, I’d urge you to reach out and connect with others via a platform that’s new to you: be it Facetime, Snapchat or just plain old snail mail.
On a related note, don’t forget to make an effort to connect with your spouse or significant other, too. You can still have a “date night” without going out to a fancy restaurant. (In fact, since we’ve been living in a rural area, my husband and I have kept our regular Friday night date at home much more often than not). After the kids are in bed, cook up a special dinner or dessert, watch a movie together, dance in the living room, or stargaze. Put the phones away. Turn off the news. Just make sure to keep aside some special time to connect with the person who is there for you the most.
10. Be the Helper
I love Mister Rogers. One of my favorite Mister Rogers quotes (which you may have read a few dozen times lately) is about “looking for the helpers” in times of crisis. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s truly been inspiring to see all of the people who have made an effort to connect with and help others. It’s a really encouraging reminder of the power of human kindness, and I think it’s something we all can – and should – be a part of. So think: what’s something I can do to help? Can you write a letter to an elderly person, or deliver extra groceries to their doorstep? Can you call up those friends who find themselves suddenly homeschooling and ask how you can help? Can you provide a word of encouragement on social media? We all have unique gifts that can be a blessing to someone else during this time, and you can definitely be a helper, even while staying home.
I hope that these 10 ideas give you some inspiration for how to make these days at home more fun and meaningful for you and your family. As hard as it is to be living in uncertainty, and to have the “pause” button pressed on normal activities, there are many good things that can come out of this time.
Now, it’s your turn. What are YOUR top tips for living your best life while staying home?
Be a helper by dropping a comment below and adding to this list!