I feel like we're setting a record for the most family time any of us have ever had. Ever. We didn’t see this coming, but it’s here, and we are faced with a choice: We can either waste our days of confinement on laziness, worry, media updates, or never-ending Netflix, or we can proactively make good use of this unforeseen block of time together. The Internet has been exploding with great ideas and opportunities for us while we practice social distancing, so I thought I’d contribute some of my own ideas for making the most of this [forced] family time together.
Play games together. Remember board games? If you’re like my family, you have stacks of them that go untouched for lengthy periods of time. Well, this is the perfect time to pull them out! And there are plenty of games you can play in your yard: catch, tag, keep away, hide and seek, cornhole, ladder ball, badminton, soccer, basketball, volleyball, kickball. Create your own scavenger hunt, complete with a map. Even video games are better when played together. To make all of these games even more challenging and fun, make a tournament out of it and post the brackets on the fridge.
Learn something new. Been meaning to take up guitar? Master a cooking method? Try your hand(s) at knitting? Make art? Tinker with car restoration? Learn a new language? The Internet has no shortage of free tutorial videos. Make the experience even more enjoyable and memorable by learning something new together with another family member.
Video chat with extended family members. Make it a virtual family reunion with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins! Play games together via FaceTime (think charades or pictionary.). Get the kids to ask the grandparents questions and have the grandparents tell stories of when they were young. Or have a talent show! Any of these things can help fill our time with laughter instead of loneliness.
Get creative. Draw, paint, color, make origami, knit/crochet, build, try new recipes, construct a mural. Challenge each member of the family to create art using certain tools or elements. Work privately, then come together to share what you’ve made. All of you can watch the same instructional drawing video and then share your results. Better yet–have every member of the family contribute to one group project. Let it be an open-ended, ongoing project. Whether the art is silly or significant, let it serve as a tangible reminder to your family of this time together.
Read. You probably have books at home that you’ve never read or would like to re-read. And thanks to modern technology, we also have access to thousands of books online. Read aloud to your kids, even if they act like they’re “too big for that” (They’re not.). There are lots of people, including celebrities, who are providing videos of themselves reading books aloud, so you can tap into those, too. There’s literally no time like the present, so read, read, read as much as you can!
Make [good] use of the Internet. Hundreds of museums around the world can be accessed online for virtual tours, as can some national parks. Many Broadway shows can be viewed online, and lots of artists are offering online concerts. Your family can view sea otters, jellyfish, penguins, giraffes, monkeys, lions, and tigers, and bears–oh my!–via live cameras at some zoos and aquariums. There are countless online puzzles, riddles, how-to videos, and brain games to occupy and challenge your mind in positive ways. And if you just need something completely peaceful, sit and watch Bob Ross paint.
Get some fresh air. For so many reasons, we need to get outside often. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Play with your pets. Jump on the trampoline. Pull weeds. Build a campfire. Read a book outside. We can still enjoy nice weather and exercise!
Tackle house or yard projects you keep putting off. We will be hard-pressed to come up with more excuses for our procrastination in home projects. So let’s get busy cleaning out rooms and closets, deep cleaning the house (the biggest one I want to avoid), organizing the garage or attic, trimming hedges, planting a garden, organizing photos, etc., etc.
Work toward a goal. Maybe you have a physical goal you’d like to meet? This is the perfect time to incorporate fitness routines and help them become habits. Whether you’re training for a 5K or marathon, working to increase your speed or stamina, wanting to tone your body, needing to lose weight, or desiring to improve your athletic skills, now you have some serious time to take advantage of, with very little distraction. Not all goals involve physical fitness, though. Whatever you’ve been longing to do, now’s your time! So go write that book. Take that online course. Create that podcast. Make those curtains and pillows. Finish those scrapbooks you started a dozen years ago. Set the goal and then celebrate when you meet it!
Reach out. No doubt we will each experience some degree of loneliness or helplessness during this uncertain time. But there are still ways we can reach out to each other and help others. Find out if your neighbors need help running errands or doing yard work. Connect with others via social media (and offer positive distractions to all the difficult news we face daily). Draw pictures and/or write letters to send in the actual mail to people. Check on people individually, especially if you sense that they need some extra encouragement. Don’t trust that someone else is doing it. Life is always better when we stop dwelling so much on ourselves. We might be in quarantine, but that doesn’t mean we have to feel alone. Lead your family in this!
Have conversations. These days are so strange and can definitely be scary. Let’s be sure we are talking regularly with our kids about what is happening in the world. Help them understand, as far as it is appropriate for their ages. Answer their questions honestly (even when the answer is “I don’t know.”). Express your own concerns. Pray together. Look for the hope and look for ways to help. Keep making plans for the future. And by all means, find something to laugh about together every single day!
This is extensive time that none of us planned to have. Let’s make the most of it. BE together. In a way, this time together is a gift. Let’s not squander it.