COVID is not gone, it looks like it will be with us for a long time. But quarantine, at least for now, is a thing of the past. I wrote this article during those dark times, when the rhythm of our days were interrupted and our world was turned on end. If you have a little time, this list of fun and free things to do will keep you busy.
Desperate for a bit of normalcy, I wrote this list when I was looking for some sort of concrete way to anchor our days. For a while, everything looked so different. Our jobs were at home. Our kids experienced their educations in a whole new way. Even our holidays and worship services were unrecognizable.
I enjoyed some of the slow down. It led to more time spent with my family, maybe I even appreciated them more. But, maybe as a symptom of modern living, I missed my to-do lists and I had a need to feel more productive.
The following list, compiled during quarantine, outlines some great things to do if you too are feeling the need to accomplish something with an afternoon. Pick a few that you like, do them all or do none. If you have a great idea, share it in the comments. We can all learn from each other.
Get Your Finances in Order
Do you find yourself bouncing from paycheck to paycheck with no time to set up a budget or way to save? Take an afternoon and organize all of your bills and expenses. Come up with a way to track your expenditures for a week to find out where you’re wasting money. Then develop a workable budget that allows you to put some money back for a rainy day or for a vacation.
Get Your House in Order
Organize your closets, or your kitchen cabinet. Find a place for everything and put everything in its place. Do you have things that you no longer need or use? If someone else could use your items, donate them to a local charity. (Don’t forget to get a tax receipt.) Items that are no longer in usable condition, throw away.
Tackle Projects You’ve Been Putting Off
Is now a good time to fix that drippy faucet in the kids’ bathroom? Have you been putting off staining the deck? Make a list of your odds and ends projects and try to take on a new one every day, or every other day, or every week. Choose a schedule that works for you.
Is your house due for an intensive spring cleaning? You could clean the windows, inside and out to give yourself a brighter outlook. Though you likely clean the floors regularly, how long has it been since you’ve dusted the base boards?
Help Your Child with a Project
Help your teen choose a college by doing virtual campus tours. Ask your pre-teen about exploring career options. Help your younger child investigate a new project or hobby.
If you’re looking for a new idea, check out my homemade play clay recipe. It’s an easy, inexpensive project that uses just two ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. It’s an activity that’s adaptable to most age groups, from littles to senior citizens.
Help Your Child Find Balance
If your young athlete is always busy with sports activities, now is a great time to explore other interests. Your child might be interested in painting or drawing. A quick search reveals a number of free art classes available online. Disney is offering online drawing classes right now free, learn to draw Mickey and other Disney characters.
Perhaps your child isn’t interested in art. Take a quick survey of your child’s interest and search online. We can learn everything from computer coding to automotive repair, photography and baking through virtual classes. My nephew is taking online guitar lessons right now.
Get in Shape
You finally have time to get yourself in shape like you’ve always wanted. Maybe that means a full workout complete with online trainer. Or perhaps it’s simply making time to take the dog on walks around your neighborhood. Whatever it means to you, putting some movement in your day will help you both mentally and physically.
simplify your life
Discover Your Local Parks
In most states you are still able to explore local, state and national parks. Gather your crew, pack a picnic lunch and head out for a hike. Make sure you check the website ahead of time. Do they allow dogs? Are all the trails open? Are there picnic tables or do you need to bring a blanket?
Trace Your Ancestry
Maybe you’ve always wanted to find out where you came from and just never had the time. Now is a good time to call your grandma. Record the call and take notes. Even if you don’t want to follow up on her leads at this time, it’s good to have a record of everything she remembers. Perhaps make a call each day with a different family member. You’ll find the pieces to your puzzle coming together in no time.
Organize Your Photos and Videos
How many pictures are on your phone? Thousands? It’s time to move them on to your computer, get everything backed up, and perhaps organize in folders. You might at least organize by year and perhaps make folders for important events like holidays, sports seasons, birthdays, and more.
Plan Your Next Trip
No time to take a trip right now? You can always have fun planning your next one. (I actually enjoy planning trips almost as much as I do taking them!) Set a budget, pick a few destinations and start researching. Start a file in Evernote (my favorite organization app ever) or start a board on Pinterest. Save all of your ideas. You can get the rest of the family involved too!
Make a Meal Plan for Busy Weeks
Build yourself a library of meals, complete with accompanying grocery lists. Try to mix up the selection. Choose cheap meals for those lean weeks before payday, throw in some quick meals for busy nights, and even find some meals that are packable in case you have to serve dinner at the ball field.
Learn a New Skill or Take a Class
Now is a great time to learn a new skill. You might consider adding skills to fill out your resume. There are a number of online classes for skills like coding or programming. If you’re in a medical field, there are plenty of onlne CE classes. And if you’re not looking to improve on your work skill set, you can learn things like photography, baking, sewing, woodworking and more.
Develop a New Hobby or Pick Up an Old One
What interests you? Have you always wanted to have bird feeders and do a little bird watching? Did you knit years ago, but haven’t picked it up in a while? Now is a great time to work on a hobby.
It’s a good idea to keep a journal. Writing things out about your life and about each day lets you keep track of your wins and losses. You can keep a gratitude journal as a reminder to be thankful for the blessings in your life. It’s a great habit to get into, spending just a few moments each day to take stock of your life.
Spend Time with Your Spouse
I know what you’re thinking. Through quarantine, you spent a little more time with your spouse than you would’ve liked. I’m not talking about the day-to-day, shuffling around the house time together. I’m talking about meaningful and intentional time together. Go out for a date or stay home and prepare a dish together. Go for a hike or have margaritas together on the back deck at sunset.
Use your creativity and come up with an idea that fits your life. You come up with a date night idea this week, then ask your spouse to surprise you with an idea next week.
Spend Time with Your Child
You probably already spend time with your child, but I mean intentional time. Take a walk, play a board game, put together a puzzle.
If you’re looking for a fun project to do together, head over to my Play Clay recipe. Together you can make ornaments to commemorate your time spent in quarantine.
For what are you thankful? You might realize how thankful you are for your child’s teacher. I’m sure you’re thankful to your mom, or a neighbor, or the crew at the local firehouse, or the kid that carries out your groceries. Find a way to show your gratitude. Write a note. Make some cookies. Just find a nice way to say “thank you.”
Plant a Garden or Flower or a Bonsai Tree
Get your green thumb going, or growing. Plan and plant a vegetable garden to have produce all through the summer months. Plant a flower bed or even just some pretty pots on your porch.
Find your passion and get started now. If you’re still looking for ideas to stay busy during these crazy days, click on over to my article on Staying Busy.
If you like one of our ideas or come up with something entirely new, share it in the comments. We’d love to hear from you! And as always, if you enjoyed the article, please share FindingOhio on social media.