Staying Occupied

We’re a good 10 days into our new normal: Mandated Self-Isolating. If you are working from home, hopefully you’ve settled into a routine. If you have kids at home, hopefully they too have successfully settled into their new home-schooling routine.

Now that we’re conquering the strangeness of maintaining our daily routine of getting up at our normal times showering and dressing for the day, working or studying, eating our meals at their regular time, and going to bed at our normal time – even though we aren’t leaving the house – we’re probably finding ourselves with a little more time on our hands. So here are a few ideas to occupy that spare time.

Virtual Get Togethers – Since we can’t physically be together let’s do it virtually. Get your friends and family together for a virtual cup of coffee, movie night, happy hour, dinner party, birthday party, cocktail party, baby shower, bridal shower, or whatever you would normally get together to do. With all of the virtual meeting options like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom meeting, GoToMeeting, etc., there’s no excuse not to.

And, if you’re the one who normally cooks for everybody in your group setup an online cooking class with them. Set the time, agree on what you’ll be cooking, send them a grocery list, and at the appointed time everybody gets on the call or meeting and you walk them through it.

Visit a Museum – Virtually, of course. Google Arts & Culture has worked with 120 museums worldwide to create a collection of virtual museum tours using their Google Street View technology. Here is a list of just a few: The Met; MoMA; Museé d/Orsay, Paris; The National Gallery, London; Buenos Aires Graffiti; and Galleria d’Arte Moderna. And if you’re trying to entertain the kids there’s a section called The Weird and Wonderful World of Dinosaurs, where, among other things, they can watch a virtual reality story about the Brachiosaurus/Giraffatitan.

Other museums that also offer virtual tours:

The Three Ages of Humans
Dosso Dossi (Giovanni de Lutero) 

Spring Cleaning – We’re all focused on cleanliness right now so take advantage and get a head start on your spring cleaning. Doing the deep clean now means that when the crisis clears you’ll be free to enjoy your weekends.

Some good areas to focus on are:

  • Air vents – in addition to being vacuumed your air vents may also need to be washed. You can do this by filling your kitchen sink with warm water and a little dish soap. After a good rinse and drying they’re ready to be reinstalled
  • Baseboards – after dusting your baseboards take a closer look and see if they need to be cleaned. I have white baseboards throughout my house and I like to use a slightly damp Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
  • Vacuum your furniture – and not just the surfaces. The crevice tool is great for getting down into the cracks.
  • Door knobs and remotes – now that we’re focused on washing our hands more thoroughly we should be giving door knobs and remotes a good cleaning too
  • The junk drawer – we all have one and they tend to become an unruly catchall overtime. So, dump it all out, sort through it, throw away whatever you don’t need (or can’t identify), and reorganize it.

If you want to go all in and get your house sparkling top to bottom, Charles MacPherson’s book The Pocket Butler’s Guide to Good Housekeeping, is an excellent resource. I have a copy and will be referring to it often.

Take Stock – Of your home’s basics. Start going through your linen closet and take note of the condition and quantity of your sheets and towels. If your linens are looking a little worse for wear or you find that you’re short a few pillow cases make a list so that when it’s safe to venture out again you’ll know what you need. If you refold and restack everything it will look great when you open the door. And you won’t have to worry about being buried in a linen avalanche.

Wardrobe Refresh – Take time to go through your closets. If you aren’t quite ready to swap over to your spring wardrobe yet go through your closet and drawers now. Reorganize your closet by sorting your clothes so that like items are near each other again. Or if you sort by color get to work on that rainbow. And don’t forget the drawers. Find all of the missing socks and reunite them, refold and restack your clothes. When it’s time to start working in the office again your morning dressing ritual will be simpler.

Laundry – I know! Most of us hate it but if you have a stack of items that need special attention now’s the time. The delicate sweaters and lingerie that need to be hand-washed and hung to dry will be ready to go again when you venture back out. And if you have an ironing pile – get out the ironing board and iron the stuff you never have time for because the weekends are full of activities.

Organize – Now is the time to tackle that stack of papers that you never seem to know what to do with. Find a place to spread out and start sorting through the stack. Determine what needs to be kept and what can be discarded. Then, if you have a filing system, file everything away. If your current system isn’t working use this time to rework it; if you don’t have a system today is the day to create it.

Mail is another thing that seems to pile up. After you’ve ventured out to collect the mail make it a habit to do a quick sort the minute you bring it into the house. Junk mail, including catalogs that you’re not interested in, goes right into the recycling bin, bills go into a folder labeled either the 1st or the 15th, time sensitive items should go on your desk so you can deal with them immediately, and magazines and catalogs can be set aside to review on the weekends. Try it over the next few weeks to see if you can make it a habit.

Exercise – if you’re reading this you have access to the internet. So, get on YouTube and find a workout that you can do at home. This is a trying time and a bit of endorphins will go a long way to making you feel a bit better. And if you feel comfortable enough to go outside – and there are no advisories against it – take a walk. The fresh air and sunshine will do loads to improve your attitude and relieve some of the feelings of being stuck at home.

Garden – Now is a great time to get out into your garden and start prepping for the coming season. If you haven’t already, start planning your garden. Map out the areas of your garden that need work or create a plan for the things you want to change. Go online and research the new plants or trees you want to add – make sure they’re appropriate for your region and your yard.

If you’ve been feeling lonely or bored I hope one of these suggestions will help you to feel less isolated or keep busy. And, if you’d like to share what you’ve been doing to keep busy please leave a comment below.