We are facing a situation this generation has never had to face: staying at home for long periods of time with family – terrifying. At Christmas, as soon as the holiday is over the malls and theatres are jammed with people trying to find something to do besides be alone with each other. Now, over the next month families are being forced to spend more time with each other at home than ever before since all outings are encouraged to be kept to a minimal. This means we will be spending the next month in close quarters with the very people who have a gift for getting on each others’ nerves. Hospitals might be filling up for reasons other than the virus: (child looking at brother) “I don’t think his leg should be bent that way… maybe I shouldn’t have pushed him down the stairs.”
During my time working a stressful job (which obviously means I was managing people), I took a month off where I barely left my home, and it was the best month I’ve ever had. It was absolutely amazing and I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t visit friends more than usual or go anywhere special. I even spent less money than normal. How? I spent the month writing a play. Projects are really important because they give us purpose and help the time fly by. Plus, at the end of the month I had something tangible I had finished, which gave me a sense of accomplishment that carried all the good feelings I felt writing it into the future. If, however, I didn’t write this play or find another project to really dig into, I would’ve lost my mind, which would’ve made the people closest to me lose their minds as well. As Christopher Titus says, “Crazy makes you crazy.”
Over the next month, young people and those laid off are at a high risk of boredom, which means there’s a high risk for them getting into trouble or developing addictions to video games, social media, and/or TV. The best way to combat these addictions is to get into a big project like I did or to set up a basic routine that helps promote a healthy lifestyle. Over this next month, I would highly encourage limited screen time, especially during the day even though that’s the easy way to find entertainment. Sometimes boredom can inspire people to find and get into a project while others benefit from being given a basic routine to follow.
The following is a list of options:
1. Hikes and Walks: People walk their dogs everyday because it’s healthy, which means we should be doing the same for ourselves and our kids. We need to be walking every day.
2. Encourage Someone: It can be a daily activity to message or call someone we haven’t talked to in awhile to give an encouraging word. You could also make and mail handwritten letters to people (if you remember what those are).
3. Acts of Kindness: It can be a great challenge to come up with and do one act of kindness everyday like washing a neighbor’s car or bringing a treat to a friend.
4. Random Research: Everyday each person in the family should learn something new they can teach the family at dinner.
5. Virtual Tours: Different museums offer virtual tours like NASA and the Vatican as described in the following article: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/75809/12-world-class-museums-you-can-visit-online
6. Documentaries: If people want to watch TV during the day, make sure it’s educational. My favourite educational show is Brain Games.
7. New Games: Each person in the family could be given the challenge to research or create a game and teach it. When I was a youth pastor I read group game books and looked for inspiration on shows like Minute to Win It. For instance, one game I made up is you put different points or letters on the stairs and contestants go to the top of the stairs and have to throw bean bags down onto the different steps to gain points or spell words.
8. Go-Big Games: Together, families can make a mini-putt course in their house or set up different objects for Dominos (aka a chain reaction machine).
9. Family challenges: Together, families try to do something bigger like climb all of the escarpment stairs in Hamilton or visit all of the waterfalls.
10. Pet Challenge: Do something different with your pet(s) whether creating a race, a maze, a costume, or scenes for funny pictures.
11. Family Calendar: Make a paper calendar filled with funny pictures you do as a family with different costumes and scenes that you can print at a store like Staples.
12. Litter Pick Up: Picking up litter along your street or at a park is a great way to teach young people not to litter while helping the environment.
13. Spring Cleaning: Outside, you can clean up gardens or inside, there are curtains to be washed, baseboards to be wiped and other odd jobs we don’t normally do. Cleaning is a great way to help a house feel fresh.
14. Job List: Make a list of jobs you want done in the house and do one a day.
15. Venting Exercises: Venting is a great way to get out bottled up emotions. Great ways to do this include smashing cardboard boxes or making crafts (eg. papermache) you burn or smash.
16. Cooking & Baking: Get kids cooking a new recipe every day.
17. Nostalgic Project: Think back to projects you did as a kid at school or camp and try to replicate them with your kids.
18. Random Art project: I had friends who carved statues out of pieces of wood while they camped for two weeks and needed something to do.
19. Box Creations: Grab boxes from the grocery store to make forts, robots, and various projects.
20. Board Games: Buy a new game that people can enjoy (avoid the ones that suck like Monopoly or Risk). Indigo has a good selection like Prime Climb that are different than the Calendar Clubs, Walmart, Toysrus, but they all have good options.
Over the next month, may you find an activity that gives you purpose and joy.