I’ve been giving this coronavirus situation a lot of thought lately. It’s hard to cope or be productive during times like this, and even harder to think of something fun, depending on your circumstances right now. Here in South Africa, we’re a little late to the social distancing “party” and even so, it still seems bizarre. All debates aside: there are many families or people for whom living in social isolation is not new, due to health or other reasons.
There are also those for whom it is downright traumatizing – children in abusive homes, women in abusive relationships, elderly people who have even less connection with the outside world than usual, and more.
Disclosure: I may receive income from purchases made through affiliate links in this post, at no cost to you.
What are you going to make of it?
The thing is that as with any tough time, your mindset can make a HUGE difference to how you experience it, feel about it, think about it, how well you sleep, eat and take care of yourself, and how productive you are while getting through it.
As a homeschooler, a parent, a daughter and a wife of a partner who is ill, I’m determined to not drown in anxiety, fear, and depression over now or the future. I’m not in denial of difficulties either. This lockdown time (right before winter begins, which will likely mean an extended social distancing-type of lifestyle anyway) can still be used for something good.
So here’s what I suggest. Why not take this opportunity/wake-up call situation to have some fun? Yes, I know, many of you are drowning in more work than before, trying to squeeze your to-do list in between chores, childcare, meals, cleaning, and whatnot, but hey, you can go as small and simple or big and impressive as you like.
Work and chores will always be there. Fun may be just the medicine you need right now.
According to scientists like Dr. Caroline Leaf, 21 days is the perfect length of time to establish a new habit. So why not set yourself some sort of challenge for these 21 days? (Aside from surviving cabin fever, of course.) Your family could join in, too.
If this sounds like an addition to the amount of mental overwhelm you’re already experiencing, check out these good reasons:
- Fun and laughter is good medicine for the soul, and so is family time.
- It will take your mind off your worries. (Besides, worrying isn’t going to help!)
- It will build good memories with your family that you can look back on.
- It will show your children how to be resilient during tough times.
- It will show you what you’re capable of even when things are hard. (You’ll surprise yourself!)
- You might come up with inspiration, solutions and new ideas for other areas of your life.
- You might turn your fun challenge into some sort of family tradition afterward.
- It will give you something else to focus on and remind you of what really matters.
- It will help to pass the time.
- You’ll have something to show for it after 21 days, rather than wasting too much time on social media.
Ways to choose your 21-day challenge:
One of the most obvious ways to choose how you’ll make the most of this time is to review what you need most – more self-care, exercise, healthier eating or just some time to breathe and do something creative. Choose one or a combination.
Fish out your bucket list and choose whatever is doable on there.
Look for inspiration online, but don’t go too far down the rabbit holes.
Check out what job skills you’re likely going to need after the crisis is over, and start a course on that, work through free tutorials from an influencer on YouTube, etc.
Look for problem areas in your life like bad habits, addictions, bad thinking patterns, attitude issues, poor diet and fitness, whatever you’d like to address.
If you’re feeling brave, let your kids choose a challenge for you! (You could set up a list for them to choose from.)
You could choose to conquer a fear.
Choose something you love and figure out how to recreate, multiply or put your own twist on it.
Finish courses you’ve bought but not completed!
Choose a long-term project and break it up into phases where you can accomplish some of the first steps in the next 21 days.
Contribute to a charity project, like making blankets for the elderly, sewing dresses for orphans, collecting non-perishables for the homeless, etc, or start your own!
Set your own criteria for the challenge
You could set your own criteria to make sure you choose a challenge that you WILL finish. Things like:
- It must be simple and not take up more than 15 minutes a day.
- No cost involved. Use what you have.
- Easy to keep yourself accountable somehow (online or with a friend who’ll kick your butt).
- The outcome must be worth it or you need to plan some kind of effective reward (or let your family plan it).
- It could be something you may continue after 21 days (a very good idea, recommended).
- No, watching a Netflix series does NOT count!
Some ideas for a 21-day challenge:
- Digitally detox (hours, days, certain apps, etc.) – we could all use this for sure!
- Do 10 push-ups a day. Or 50 jumping jacks. Or 20 burpies. Whatever strikes your fancy.
- Complete a workout program.
- Make a painting or a drawing per day and post it online (this guy became an illustrator doing this for a year).
- Test out a vegan diet for a while.
- Try intermittent fasting or do a Daniel-fast (veggies and fruit only for 21 days, eggs are optional).
- Try a new skincare regimen.
- Explore meditation.
- Memorise something impressive, like a long poem, a lot of Scripture (Psalm 119 anyone?), or a song with many verses. Some classic hymns have at least four verses.
- Work on becoming more flexible and able to split (random I know, but hey, why not?) If splitting is not your thing, how about working on being able to do a backflip?
- Learn how to do a headstand.
- Memorise a dance (no, NOT flossing to Baby Shark).
- Learn another language (Duolingo is a popular app for this).
- Create printables -you could turn this into a side-hustle if you do it well.
- Write a short story or go even shorter and try flash fiction.
- Start a blog/podcast/YouTube channel. (I highly recommend Suzi Whitford’s Blog By Number course. It really helps break it down into easy, doable steps!)
- Create a play or skit and make a home movie as a keepsake.
- Write a song – it’s a great way to process hard times.
- Write poetry – for the same reason as writing songs.
- Learn to play an instrument.
- Explore pottery or sculpting. Or just mess around with your children’s playdough, it counts.
- Learn sewing, crocheting or some other craft.
- Let your kids teach you something they are good at.
- Learn how to do a magic trick or how to juggle.
- Read through everything on your To-Be-Read list, or work your way through a classic book list (you could use audiobooks to help with this).
- Start a bullet journal.
- Write 5 things you’re grateful for every day.
- Bake and/or cook your way through a recipe book (preferably something with simple ingredients.
- Track your water intake and exercise daily.
- Create a model city.
- Start a garden and learn how to multiply the plants you already have.
- Learn plant and tree names (cue nature studies with your kids! I love using Google Lens for this.).
- Do home maintenance and maybe revamp a few pieces while you’re at it (if you have the time).
- Get more sleep. (Yes, this is a super hard one for many people, even without a virus crisis! It requires good habits, routine, etc.)
- Start a new morning/evening routine. (Check out Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning book for some info on this.)
- Make a mural. Why not? (I’ve always wanted to write all over one bedroom wall, but alas, we rent.)
- Do a family project or activity every day after lunch or dinner.
- Declutter 5 items a day. Whether you’re a Marie Kondo fan or not, you probably have some stuff you need to get rid of that could help other people.
- Spring clean everything – it’s definitely more interesting than the constant hand washing and can be fun if you play good music!
- Write down something wonderful about each member of your family (something you observed, something they said or did) every single day for 21 days, and then write them a letter to say thank you for it after 21 days.
- Check in with a few people you know who are elderly, alone, very ill or disabled, by sending a text message, a funny joke or encouraging words on a daily basis. Build relationships in tiny, simple, positive ways and get creative. Everybody could use more of that!
Choose a challenge that you WANT to do.
Don’t choose something because you feel you need to perform, get it together, be good enough, or anything like that. The idea is to have some fun and give yourself some sort of incentive, no matter how silly it sounds.
The secret is that although you can’t control a crisis, you can control your choices in it. You can still choose to do/have/give/try something positive, without denying all your other emotions.
There are so many resources to provide inspiration, content and help for the above suggestions. All you need is a couple of tutorials on YouTube, maybe some Pinterest or Instagram inspiration, a cheap course on Udemy.com or a couple of library books! Whatever you do, make sure you actually DO something. Don’t get stuck researching all the time.
Which challenge will you choose?
Do any of the above ideas excite you a little bit?
What do you like doing when you need to get your mind off a lot of stress? When last have you had some actual fun?
Some other posts that may help you settle into a new routine during tough times at home:
- Top useful apps for homeschoolers
- All-in-one Homeschooling Q & A
- 21 Things that make homeschooling easier
- Basic supplies you need for homeschooling
- Creating a routine that works for your family
- 27 Coping tips for parents
- Forgive yourself, dear parent
- How homeschooling can help your bullied child heal
- Goal setting – the bigger picture
- How your view of your child impacts how you homeschool (this will help with relationships)
Share in the comments below what you’d like to do, and then we can support each other!