Going stir crazy yet? In these self-quarantining times, we’re all looking for something fun to do in our free time. Some of us, like kids who are going to virtual school and no longer have after-school activities, may have a lot more free time than they know what to do with.
You can clean out your garage or organize the pantry some other day. For now, let’s think of ways to entertain ourselves. Here are 10 ideas:
— Work on your family tree.
— Pull out the board games.
— Work a jigsaw puzzle.
— Set up a craft corner.
— Look through your old yearbooks.
— Start a blog.
— Go on a nature hike.
— Read a book.
— Bake a cake.
— Write a letter to a family member.
Work on Your Family Tree
Clémence Scouten owns AtticsAnonymous.com. She helps people publish books about their family history.
Even if you don’t go as far as writing a memoir, Scouten says that there are a lot of fun things you can do alone or with your kids.
“Work on a family tree together,” Scouten suggests. “Draw it. Do it in PowerPoint. Include photos of people. Draw countries of origin.”
She says you could have a storytelling hour where you tell family stories. You could interview the grandparents on the phone. “Record them if you can,” Scouten says. “There are free genealogy websites. A big one is familysearch.org.”
If you don’t have kids or they’re out of the house, Souten says this would be a good time to organize your boxes of family papers and photos and old documents. “You could create an e-collection to share with the whole family,” she says.
Pull Out the Board Games
This is one of those obvious ideas, but have you done it lately? Surely you have a Monopoly board somewhere. Chess? Risk? It only sounds cheesy until you start doing it and then remember why board games became so popular in the first place.
Work a Jigsaw Puzzle
You might have to buy one, but find a challenging one, which could lead to hours of fun. Get some puzzle glue and a cheap frame after you’re finished, and you have art to hang in your home.
Set Up a Craft Corner
That’s an idea from Amy Maliga, a financial educator with Phoenix-based Take Charge America, a nonprofit financial counseling agency. She is envisioning it for families with young children, though arguably a crafty adult might enjoy this, too.
Maliga suggests: “Set up a small table in the corner of the family room — or, if weather allows, on the patio — with paper, glue, stickers, paints, crayons, glitter (if you dare!) and other craft supplies.”
She suggests keeping the table stocked at all times, so it’s ready to go whenever anybody’s creative juices are flowing, and to cover the table with a sheet or tablecloth when it’s not being used to minimize visual clutter.
Look Through Your Old Yearbooks
“Even though you’re probably connected with some of those folks on social media, there’s nothing like paging through yearbooks and reading the messages to make those memories come flooding back,” Maliga says. She adds: “If you have kids, they’ll get a big kick out of seeing the big ’80s hair or crazy ’90s fashions and hearing some of your best stories.”
Of course, some parents might think that’s a little overly optimistic.
Start a Blog
“Now is a great time to set an online project such as a blog, a podcast or a YouTube channel. There’s even the potential for these things to gain some momentum and make some money over the medium to long term,” says Ben Taylor, founder of the HomeWorkingClub.com, an online website for freelancers and home workers.
“The great thing about these projects, beyond being highly diverting, is that they involve learning new skills and building something tangible,” Taylor says. “Individuals can work alone, and parents can involve children. Younger ones love to be videoed or ‘interviewed,’ and the older ones will enjoy things like sound and video editing.”
He adds: “Yes, there are some small potential costs for those who want to take things to the next level, but there are free or cheap options for everything.”
Go On a Nature Hike
It’ll get you out of your home and into the great outdoors. Depending where you go — some nature parks have admission fees — it’s often free. AllTrails.com is a good website to check out to find trails near you. And if you’re a camper, this may be an excellent time to find somewhere remote and pitch a tent.
Read a Book
Yes, you could order a new book, but if we’re talking free and cheap, surely you have some favorite titles lying around the house that you would like to revisit — or ones you purchased that you haven’t gotten around to yet. And if you’re seeking a new book, try your library. You can go there without going there. Maliga suggests getting the Libby app.
“It’s a free app that connects you to your local library and allows you to check out e-books and audiobooks. You’ll need a current library card to get started,” she says.
Bake a Cake
Or cookies. If you have some eggs, flour, sugar and other staples, you might even want to try to create something out of scratch. Or try out a new recipe and cook something special for dinner.
Write a Letter to a Family Member
We’re not talking about sending an email but writing an old-fashioned letter. Even better, send that letter to a relative at a nursing home or take a cue from Jennifer Buchholz, mother of three and director of marketing for The English Contractor & Remodeling Services in Cincinnati. You could even send a letter to someone else’s relative.
She says that her son’s high school soccer coach started thinking about his wife’s 98-year-old grandfather in a nursing home who is unable to have visitors.
“So he challenged the team to write notes to residents at area nursing homes and hospitals as part of their homework today,” Buchholz says. “In my house, we’re getting the entire family involved, sending notes, pictures and poems. Not only do we hope to send a bit of cheer to someone who might need it, but we’re having fun as a family in planning out our letters.”
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