Things just got real weird, real fast. We went from living normal lives — going to work, dropping the kids off at school and spending time with friends, to being told we’re supposed to stay put and hunker down for the next two weeks (or maybe more). If you can already feel the cabin fever setting in at the mere mention of “social distancing,” rest assured you’re not alone — well, figuratively, at least. Spending extended periods of time cooped up in your house can be challenging for anyone that likes to be active and engaged. But there’s a silver lining to all this me-time: We get to rediscover our passions and maybe find some new ones, too. So, whether you’re shacked up by choice or necessity, read on for our favorite activities to keep you busy and productive at home.
Take on Some Home Improvement
If you’ve been neglecting your home, now is the time to give it some TLC. Consider a fresh coat of paint in the living room (maybe an accent wall to spice things up), hang the art that’s been collecting dust in the basement and put together that piece of furniture that has remained in the box for the last six months. Decals are a great and temporary way to transform a space if you’re indecisive about decor and want to experiment with change. If decorating is off the table, then get a head start on your spring-cleaning to-do list. There’s always something to be organized (or KonMari’d), whether it’s the garage, a mudroom or your bedroom closet. If you’re stuck inside, you might as well make your living space as comfortable, functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible. After all, there’s no place like home.
Rekindle Your Love of Reading
Want to give your imagination a whirlwind vacation without leaving your own backyard? Scoop up a fictional book set in an exotic destination. Or maybe you want to try a sci-fi novel. Consider trying a genre of book that’s different from your norm: historical non-fiction, fantasy or even YA. You could also re-read some classics: The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, Pride and Prejudice — the literary list goes on. Check out Walmart eBooks by Rakuten Kobo for a library of ebooks and audiobooks.
Find Yourself a Hobby
Always wanted to take up knitting, crocheting or water-color painting? No time like the present. These independent activities offer a creative outlet, quiet the mind and give you something unique to show for your efforts. You can find tutorials on YouTube or order an instructional book online. Not one for crafting? There are loads of hobbies waiting to be claimed. Try gaming (we can’t exactly call it “productive,” but your inner tween will thank you), take up an instrument (you can start lessons online), begin making your own jam or craft your own beer. Find something that speaks to a passion point and give it a go.
Learn a Language
Want to use this opportunity to broaden your mind and feed your soul? Learn a language. There are lots of resources online to help you get started. Italian, French, Spanish, Mandarin – the beautiful options are plentiful (and useful). You can also try to learn sign language via nifty YouTube tutorials.
Make Time to Meditate
Want to be busy being “unbusy?” Meditation apps offer an amazing way to calm your nerves and quiet your thoughts. Breathing exercises will help you get your zen on, while thoughtful visualizations can transform your point of view and reduce overall anxiety. Don’t know where to start? Download the Calm or Headspace app on your device and see what you like.
Get Your Exercise On
Being cooped up can lead to stress or boredom eating. Instead of making a sundae, make a date with your elliptical or stationary bike (or something that combines the best of both). Don’t have a cardio machine? Why not treat yourself to something other than a cookie? Add some yoga and free weights to the rotation, pump up the music and keep things fresh and fun. Of course, if the weather is agreeable, you can also go outside for a bike ride or enjoy a power walk around the neighborhood. Fresh air will do the body, mind and soul some good. Here are some healthy, helpful resources to get you on your way:
If you’ve stocked up on groceries for a cozy stay at home, you might as well use them. Invest in some cookbooks or search online for new and innovative recipes that are different from your regular go-to dishes. If you don’t have to race to get dinner on the table for once, experiment, taste test and enjoy the process. While you’re at it, freeze some meals for the busier weeks to come. (Your future well-fed self will thank you!). Better yet, take a dinner or two to an elderly neighbor’s home. Attach a thoughtful note to your tupperware to let them know you care, ring the doorbell and then quietly tiptoe away.
No funny business, we’re being literal here. Your couch is calling, and it’s time to answer. The good news: If you’ve been slacking in the streaming department, there are a plethora of entertaining options. Rest assured, you can become a bonafide TV and movie buff in no time. Work your way through all the options on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Disney+ (it’s not just for kids). Need some suggestions? Love Is Blind (Netflix) is the ultimate guilty-pleasure dating show and The Mandalorian (Disney+) is downright addictive. Quick tip: While the occasional binge sesh is enjoyable, be sure to rein in the daily screen time or you’ll feel less productive and more sedentary.
Create Family Albums
You probably have a million and one pictures just sitting on your phone. Take time to put together some photo memory books — consider making separate ones from special occasions or organize them by year. You’ll be so happy you can finally share tangible photos with friends and loved ones, and you’ll relish thumbing through your books and remembering your most precious moments.
Start a Daily Journal
There’s something super therapeutic about writing your daily thoughts in a journal. You can keep it short and sweet or do an emotional deep dive. Make this a part of your daily routine, and you’ll find you look forward to jotting down moments of inspiration, innovative ideas and quotes.
You can make the most of your time at home and stay happily occupied; just embrace the me-time! Snuggle up on the couch (you have nowhere else to be!), and shop with Rakuten for all your stay-busy essentials to earn Cash Back on purchases.
Lauren is a digital editor, freelance writer, and Instagram aficionado with a feisty five-year-old boy and a sassy two-year-old diva at home. With a passion for family, travel, style, and alliteration, she spends her days chasing children, chugging coffee, and daydreaming about sleep. As a veteran lifestyle editor and media mom, Lauren loves to find ways to make the aspirational attainable for all the overwhelmed parents out there—because we really need to stick together! Lauren lives with her husband and kiddos in the suburbs of New York City.