So, you may be thinking, “Laurie, we’ve been on lockdown and staying home for eight months now. Why this post now?”
With the COVID pandemic seemingly hitting a strong second act, with numbers increasing again after a summer of inching downwards, and with no normalcy in sight, I thought I would share some insights I’ve gained.
Full disclosure: I love staying home. Although I enjoy being social, it doesn’t bother me one bit to be alone, or just with my family. I consider myself a borderline introvert. I’m comfortable surrounded by people because I spent my professional career in a huge corporate environment, working on and leading teams. But now that writing is my full-time gig, I’m perfectly happy with the solitary-ness of my work.
My husband is my total opposite in this regard. In fact, if someone were to write a romance novel about my husband and me, our trope would be Opposites Attract. He’s an outgoing, social, vivacious people-lover. In our last two neighborhoods, he’s known as The Mayor. He regularly walks around the neighborhood, for no other reason than to connect with people. Everyone knows his name. They occasionally invite him in for a cup of coffee and a chat and he always agrees.
On Halloween this year, I put together individual goodie bags filled with candy bars, chip bags and Halloween toys for each child that we’re acquainted with in the neighborhood. I figured we’d wait for them to come trick or treating and hand them out. Nope. Hubby hand delivered them. All twelve of them. He wanted to make sure the kids would get them even if they didn’t plan to trick or treat, and it gave him the chance to connect with the kids and talk to the parents at the same time.
So … the pandemic. If you had to place a vote on which one of us, me or hubby, is doing better during this time of solitude … who would you guess? DING DING DING! You’re right! It’s me! Weird as it seems, I have done pretty well thriving during this odd time in our history. However, hubby … he’s miserable. He’s bored. He’s lonely. I would even go so far to say … he’s depressed.
Noticing this recently, I shared some of the techniques I’ve used to stay busy and engaged and productive and … HAPPY during the lockdown. He didn’t seem particularly anxious to give any of them an immediate try. But I’ve noticed after thirty years of marriage, that when I give him a suggestion, I just need to wait. I’ll either see his behavior start to change in a week or two, or I’ll overhear him on the phone telling one of his friends … you know, like it was HIS idea!
But, in case any of you, dear readers, are struggling like my dear hubby is, here are some things to consider for making your stay at home time more enjoyable. Overarching reality: I seem to be better when I have a goal. A To Do List that I can cross off. A number I need to hit. So try to incorporate that concept into your activities. It really makes me get out of bed excited to get going, instead of facing unlimited hours to fill, stretching into forever.
- Write a series of books. Ha ha, okay, this is what I did with my quarantine; maybe you won’t do that. But writing the entire Matchmaking Moms of Oceanview Church series definitely gave me a sense of purpose and achievement.
- Set a reading goal. At the beginning of the year, I committed to the Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge. I committed to reading 50 books. Every time I read one, I update my challenge screen and Goodreads tells me if I’m on, ahead of or behind schedule. Knowing I have the goal has really made me read more books this year!
- Watch more TV. I know this sounds weird, to make a goal to watch more TV. But really, there is a TON of great programming available right now! Gone are the days of three major networks and nothing else. There are literally hundreds of cable channels, not to mention the newer streaming channels. Hubby and I finally entered the 21st century and checked out our streaming channels this year, and together, we got immersed in about a dozen binge-worthy series.
- Watch more movies. A friend of mine set a goal to go through her entire library of movie DVDs and watch them in alphabetical order. Figuring she wouldn’t have bought them if they weren’t meaningful to her or someone in her family, she dusted off the covers and rewatched old favorites.
- Write more letters. Ahh, the lost art of letter writing. Email would be okay for this one, but seriously, how about buying some beautiful stationary (or making your own) and writing an actual letter to someone. Put a stamp on it and mail it, knowing that it will provide a thrill for that person when they find it in their mailbox. Make a list of family members you’re not normally in touch with. Or go through your Christmas card list and send them a mid-year family update. Or, friends that you’ve lost touch with. Reach out. Your letter may become a treasured keepsake for that person.
- Read at least one book written by each InspyRomance author. There are currently 26 of us, and we’re all listed on the homepage of this website. I’m sure you’ve read books from many of us, but with your pandemic spare time, try reading a book from those you haven’t read. You may just find a new favorite author!
- Learn something new. Did you know you can learn just about anything from online teaching? The possibilities are endless. Search YouTube for how to videos or actually enroll in an online course. Ideas? Learn a new language. Learn to play an instrument. Learn to knit or crochet.
- Update your home through DIY. So many of us are kicking off home improvement projects. Hubby and I hired professionals to put up a kitchen backsplash and install a wider custom bathtub. But it’s fun to think of Do-It-Yourself projects too. Give your walls a fresh coat of paint. Refinish some old furniture. Pick new throw pillows and rugs off the internet and change around your color scheme. Each new project gives you something to look forward to accomplishing.
- Locate and cook new recipes. One of my 2020 New Year’s Resolutions, before the pandemic hit, was to cook two new recipes a week. I love watching cooking shows on TV, looking up recipes online and giving them a try. It’s so easy to get in a rut, cooking the same meals over and over. Try something new! You get the added bonus of leaving the house to shop for the ingredients! (Safely masked in the grocery store, of course).
- Get up and move. All these sedentary activities are fun, but you can’t forget exercise. The “COVID 15” is a real thing I’ve been hearing about more and more. Weight gain is a very real effect of staying home more. Do what you can to move. Watch a yoga or aerobics channel on TV and move along with it. Get out and walk, either in your neighborhood, or in an indoor mall. Ride a bike. Some gyms are open again — go there if you have a membership as long as you mask and sanitize the machines. Set a goal: number of steps, number of miles, number of minutes … and strive to hit it. Don’t let this disease make you put on weight and become less healthy.
There we have it. Ten ideas to keep you busy and content while you stay at home. What have I missed? What activities can you add to the list? What has kept you sane and engaged while the whole world slowed down and became smaller?