Using Social Distance To Come Together

Things are not easy and I know there are so many nuances and complications to these suddenly new lives we’re all leading.  That being said, for those of you who can, I wanted to gather together ways to look for the good and find bright moments in this dark time. A lot is not in our control, so it can be empowering to take control of the things that we can in a way that brings peace and joy to ourselves and our loved ones.

Something else I’ve been thinking about is how it might be helpful to think about specific roles you want to take on during this time.  Are you the morale booster? The organizer? The researcher? The rock? We can’t do it all, so let’s think about ways that we can use our strengths to buoy each other up.

My inner teacher and my inner child are totally at work here. There’s a lot I can’t do, but I do love me some imagination and hyping up my people.  These are my list versions of those skills (? ha) and I’m hoping it might makes things a little easier for you in some way.

There’s obviously a fine line between being overwhelmed by the dark and blinded by the light, but let’s just keep offering up whatever grace we can and doing our best as each moment comes. I’m not trying to ignoring what’s going on with these lists, but I do hope something on here offers a little bit of happiness.

I’d love for you to add to these lists, whether it be games you love or shows we should all try out or a hobby you’re planning on trying out.

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Creative Activities for Keeping Kids (and Yourself) Amused (and Sane)

With all of these, there are ways to adapt them to most ages. You’d be surprised by what might end up amusing a teenager and what toddlers are capable of with your guidance! Adapt and use those imaginations!
➕  Build a reading fort. Start a book club. Listen to an audiobook together.
Keep those brains from rotting and some quiet time for yourself.  Make it feel a little more special in some way, whether it be a sheet tent or cozified corner or a book club with snacks.  If forts are big crowd pleasers in your house, I really like the open-ended nature of this to build the structure of lots of different forts.
➕ Family Olympics.
I did this with kids I used to nanny for and it took up a week easily.  Depending on yours kids’ ages, they can come up with the activities or you might want to help them brainstorm. Make sure to have Opening and Closing Ceremonies and have them think up how to make the medals.
➕ Themed days.
The focus of this makes the day much more simple to plan. Do a week of different countries and each day try recipes, learning facts, learning a dance or song, making a themed craft, and so on. Other themes might be Nature Week, Disney Week, Harry Potter Week…you get the drift.
➕ Make your own cafe or restaurant.
Choose a name, design the sign, make the menu. Cook or bake real food or set up the pretend elaborately. Have music selections and dress up to fit the ambience.
➕ Cardboard creations.
So many opportunities here: building mini houses for toys like Calico Critters, making ramps, slides, castles, roads…
➕  Water play.
Take those plastic animals, trucks, Barbies, whatever your kid loves that can get wet and set up a washing station.  Stick in Easter eggs.  Rocks.  Beads.  Let lots of splashing happen (towel or outside).  I’ve also been curious to try out these water beads. Looks like a lot of sensory fun.
➕ Build a city.
Give up one of your rooms. The sacrifice will be worth it. Take your magnetic tiles, your blocks, piles of books, whatever is around and let them build their hearts out.
➕ Your own version of Great British Bake Off, HGTV Design Star, Survivor, whatever competitions they like.
Try out a technical and your best Paul Hollywood impressions.
➕ Kits.
Now’s the time to bust them out or order some.  Make slime, grow crystals, figure out the ultimate paper airplane,  what the heck are fairy potions, water globes sound fun, dig for some dinosaur bones, make this cool glow-in-the-dark terrarium.
➕ Spa day.
Depending on what age, try things like finding relaxing music, animal sheet masks, mud masks.  Get this electronic back massager that you should have already gotten because it’s the best thing ever and take turns.  Calm is the name of the game.
➕ Learn some magic.
This has also been a hit while nannying.  There are so many tutorials on YouTube for learning varying skill levels of card tricks. Magic sets like this one and this one also are a fantastic way to keep kids amused.
➕ Talent shows, goofy fashion shows, plays, dance routines, music videos.
There’s a lot of room here. Pre-teens might love coordinating everything for a music video of their favorite song.  Anyone might love seeing who can find the weirdest accessories around the house and perfect their fashion walk. Most kids like to see pictures or videos of what they’ve done.
➕ Make a book together.
Another one I’ve done to great success.  Have the kid write their own or tell you a story and then take pictures of them acting it out. Take time finding the costumes and props, too. They help put it together and, voila, you’ve spent a lot of time and have a super cute end product.
➕  Races.
Use squirt guns to race bath toys through the tub or a tupperware filled with water.  Line up the cars (try this awesome one or this one– the best!) and create obstacles or ramps or other variables.  Time each other running, skipping, hopping around the house.
➕ Magnets.
Whether it be the classic word magnets (teens will surprise you with embracing challenges like haiku).  Kids will love this funny face set or this version of essentially a magnetic paper doll set.
➕ Obstacle courses.
Push aside the bigger furniture and set up pillows, a tunnel, balancing stones, whatever you’ve got. Try it with remote control cars. Try it with flashlights in the dark.  Try timing it. Try doing it to epic soundtrack music.  With a strobe light.
➕ For the younger set, stick things into whisks, tupperware, colanders, bags, etc.
Check around your house and you’ll be surprised by what you find.  Pom poms, pipe cleaners, and large foreign coins have been big hits over here.
➕  Scavenger hunts.
There’s lots of varieties with this one and, depending on the age, they can create their own.  Alphabetical items throughout the house, natural items in the yard, yarn paths through the house.
➕  Get outside.  Exercise. Dance parties.
As long as you’re far enough away from other people, take lots of  walks and hikes.  Consider trying out new outdoor toys like this ride on wiggle car I see kids in our neighborhood loving.  Have allll the dance parties you can. Add in some glow sticks or a disco ball or a spinning light wand.
➕ Have them teach each other or themselves.
Give a little bit of direction and then see what they can come up with. From doodle assignments (check out artists’ Instagram pages like Carson Ellis’s) to word matching to memorizing a poem to opening up a book and seeing where it goes from there.  It’s like playing school, but for real.
➕ Check out all the ideas on Pinterest. Pull out old toys.
Some days you need something else to do the work for you.
➕ Board games.
Drag out your favorites and even turn ones you might not normally like, like Monopoly, into more fun by keeping them going for a long time. Check out some new ones: Blocus, Carcassone, Ticket to Ride: First Journey, Taco Goat Cat Cheese Pizza.  Check out these tried and true favorites: CatchPhrase, Blurt, 5 Second Rule, Wits and Wagers.
➕ Family camp.
There are so many activities from outdoor ones, bocce to parachute to badminton, to indoor ones like making friendship bracelets and those yarn dream catchers I feel like we all did at summer camps.  Roast marshmallows and hot dogs.  Set up a tent or sleep together in sleeping bags or pile up blankets and pillows.
*** Novelty within routine is the name of the game.
Set up your structures, but I’d typically try to have one more novel activity each day.  In can just be things like water balloons, kinetic sand, a new building toy like Squigz or a touch light drawing board that are not things you play everyday.  It can be a new use for old toys or items around the house.  It can be a new atmosphere for those things- change up the music or the light or location, like bringing books outside or picnicking with your breakfast.  Use your imaginations together!

Vicarious Exploration

➕  Kara and Nate on YouTube
Watch this infectiously enthusiastic couple go to 100 new countries.
➕  The Bucket List Family on YouTube
A new to me find that is apparently new to no one else because they have almost a million followers. This family is so adventurous and fun.
➕  Somewhere Devine on YouTube
Another cute family exploring the world together. I like their filming style.
➕ PBS Kid’s Molly of Denali on YouTube and most platforms
This is if you have kids! As you hopefully know, we’re obsessed with this show around here. Immerse yourself in Native Alaskan culture! The puffin episode I’ve linked to might be a good one to start with.
➕  Anthony Bourdain on Netflix
So distinctive.
National Parks Adventure on Netflix
Just added to my list because I love the National Parks and am so curious to learn more.
➕ Disney Nature Oceans on Netflix
Any nature shows, really.
➕ Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix
Have you seen this documentary yet? It’s a good one.
➕ Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix
Samin Nosrat is so charming and passionate and the filming and locations of this are stunning.
➕ The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes on Netflix

Coping Strategies

➕ Search your podcast app to find a new podcast to binge.
I mean, it’s a wealth of content out there, and it’s nice to have something to take you away from your whirling thoughts for a bit.
➕ Browse magazine websites and Pinterest for new recipes.
I’ve been wanting to try out this copycat Chipotle chicken recipe and something with my husband’s sourdough discard.
➕ Memorize a poem.
Dorky, yes, but I’ve always wanted to be able to whip out a poem (ha) and I think the practice of this will be really calming. I’m thinking of this one.
➕ Keep exercising.
Good for your body, good for your spirit.  There are tons of workout videos on YouTube and you might be able to still go outside, so take advantage of that with long walks if you can.
➕ Focus in on a hobby you’ve always thought might be interesting. 
I might be trying an embroidery kit.  Learning a language, trying out new board games, practicing calligraphy, finally making that photo album…pick something that you have had in the back of your mind and actually try it!
➕ Make playlists.
Explore new music or find old favorites. A new playlist can feel really invigorating.
➕ Tackle some undone projects.
I think feeling productive is going to be key here. Make a list and bring it down into manageable parts and then give yourself all the gold stars.
➕ Make Pinterest boards or collages of things you find funny or beautiful.
There’s something mindless about this while also washing you with good feelings.
➕ Find a new show to get excited about.
There are tons of lists out there if you’re looking for suggestions!  The key is to pick something you’re looking forward to and that will properly distract you.
➕ Pick up those unread books.
I haven’t been able to focus on a book lately, but I’m hoping that will change. Anyone else? Maybe I just need something really absorbing.  Suggestions welcome!
➕ Try to pick a highlight for each day.
Is there a movie you’re going to watch with some twinkle lights set up beneath the TV? Are you going to try to make something? Do something kind for someone? Having little fence posts in each day can be hugely helpful.

I’m eager to hear from all of you what you’re planning to do during this weird time in all our lives. Let’s keep connecting and let’s STAY HOME if you can!!

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