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?
We have been lucky where I am and haven’t had a real shutdown til last week and the 6 days became 3 and to be honest I was a little disappointed when it ended early more because I had set my self for 6 days. We did have a slow down where we were encouraged to stay home etc.
I need to get out but even if only to go for a ride or walk. I did find Sundays hard till I got a routine. The biggest thing I found I need contact and people rarely ring me but I have a couple of people I know I can ring and chat to. I found I rewatched a whole series (all 10 seasons of one show and 5 of the next). I did more gardening and would chat to those walking by at a safe distance. I also found I don’t need to shop every day and right now am trying to restrict it to 2 days a week.
Laurie Larsen says
Yes, and I think a good by product of the isolation is that we appreciate each encounter more. It’s easy to take something for granted if it happens all the time.
Mary Preston says
I’d add crafts to the list. I love knitting in particular.
Laurie Larsen says
Yes! I used to enjoy counted cross stitch and stenciling. Maybe I should give those a try again. Mary, what projects have you knitted this year?
Margaret Bunce says
Like thousands of others, I decided to reawaken my love of the piano. I had a small electronic keyboard and promised myself an upgrade to a digital 88 key piano if I kept up the practising for 3 months. I discovered YouTube videos that taught me skills I’d never tried. It’s now 8 months since I started, and the new digital piano I bought is amazing!!
Laurie Larsen says
Oh Margaret! How wonderful! That’s a real success story! Congrats!
Valerie Comer says
Haha I know people like your husband, but I am definitely NOT married to one. We’re both doing “okay” through this time. Harder for hubby because he works at a jobsite with others from around the region. He works outside but still cannot always avoid closer contact than he’d like – he’s all about “stay out of my bubble” in a covid-free world, so now he is squirrelly when people get closer than they should, even when masked! And he is concerned about bringing C home to me or his aging parents.
Thanks for the reminder to watch more TV. I keep forgetting we have Netflix! We do try to have a movie night every week, but I could do better LOL.
Laurie Larsen says
I’m currently bingewatching The Crown — gotta love British royalty; and White Collar — a renowned art forger with a tracking anklet working for the FBI to catch criminals: love the cast and sort of reminds me of Catch Me If You Can!
I haven’t been bothered a bit by staying home! I’ve always been a homebody!! When it first started and they told us not to go to the Mall, I REALLY wanted to go, but now that it’s open, I haven’t been. I have tried new recipes, though!! I don’t know if I’ve read more books or not, as this is the first year I’m keeping track of how many books I read. Next year, I’m going to keep track of how many per month, too.
Laurie Larsen says
Yeah it’s human nature that when told we can’t do something you REALLY want to!!
Those are all great ideas. I would add cleaning/organizing to the list as thats something we now actually have time to do. I helped my Mom clean out all her kitchen cupboards and linen closets and it was so nice to have done.
Laurie Larsen says
Ooooh, great one! I cleaned all my baseboards, ceiling fans and blinds slats. Felt so good to complete those infrequent chores!
Deb Galloway says
This is a great topic to make us evaluate how well we are truly doing Laurie, thanks! As a whole, I have always been more like your husband, I did appreciate some time by myself but I need to have interaction with others to thrive! I am so blessed not to have much trouble with this year due to a drastic change I went through 5 years ago. I had to get used to only going out when there was no other option because of health troubles. I started reading ebooks which gained me a new set of friends in authors, allowing that personal connection with some great Christian friends that helped to replace the friends that kind of fell out of my life once I was unable to go out. I was blessed to start by listening to books while I did embroidery. I have always done this but had little time to do so. This change gave me much more time! Doing these things together was great, multi-tasking. 😊 I have always loved to send letters and ‘just because’ cards are a favorite to send. I have always been an avid baker but haven’t been able to bake or even cook the way I like to since this all happened. I eventually started picking or finding the things that take less time on my feet at once and doing those whenever possible. It’s not best case scenario but at least I have some of that pleasure! I have also started sharing recipes more and spending more time sharing tips and general information with younger people to help them learn. I was watching a lot more TV too and like you said, if you look there are many options to pick from anymore.
I did go through another shift in the last few months but do have to say I know God planned that to help me shift and grow even more! I have developed issues with one of my thumbs which has stopped my ability to do embroidery. And due to financial problems I had to cut out my house phone and TV (I get NO reception without no cable/dish service). But through this I have been working into jobs with authors, street teams, beta and proofreading. I haven’t gotten to the point of gaining income from this yet (which is the ultimate goal) but have been getting experience and have fallen in love with doing these things! I still do ARC for multiple authors and continue to squeeze some pleasure reading between jobs. The biggest blessing is meeting even more beautiful women and a few friendships I have had are deepening into close friends. I am soooo blessed with these friendships, prayer partners and mentors!
Throughout what has been a life changing journey for most through the course of this year, I have had the life changing journey for the last few years.
Being Thanksgiving is the perfect time for me to share with all of you how amazing God has been to me! I have been able to see many ways He has blessed me with the changes I continue to go through and even as my health declines the positive things I keep having handed to me at just the time I need is so awesome! I’m sorry this is such a long response but I can’t help but share a glimpse with you on what a perfect, loving Savior we have & how well He knows what we need and meets each of those needs. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! 💕
Laurie Larsen says
Deb thank you for such a heartfelt response. I thank God that when something is taken away from us, there is a bounty of new opportunities to take its place if we look and trust Him. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Natalya Lakhno says
We are playing board and card games with kiddos :)
Laurie Larsen says
Yes! Our family loves to play games together. Our favorites: Sequence, 500 rummy and Trivial Pursuit!
Natalya Lakhno says
We love Sequence and Phase 10
Alicia Haney says
Hi, very good ideas, I am one who love staying at home, both my husband and I are retired. We have been going on walks everyday with our pup . We love listening to the birds chirping and singing and we love to see the little creatures out there and we also love to see the wild plants blooming and changing colors. You know I hear people say I am bored, but , there is no need to be bored, there is always something we can do. Thank you for sharing your great ideas. May you and your family have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.
Laurie Larsen says
Alicia, yes walking for the purpose of observing and enjoying God’s beautiful creation is wonderful.
I bet your friends and family love that hobby!
I have always been a big movie and TV watcher so that continues. I have added the projects of converting cassette tapes and VHS tapes to digital. No lack of material there! I’ve also been reading a lot, but I keep adding to my TBR pile :). The isolation has also brought the opportunity to write a novel of 85K words. I’m now into my beta reader feedback revisions. It has been a fun journey so far!
Oh Lincoln! Congrats on your completion of a novel! How exciting.
Nothing has changed here. We’re not big TV watchers in the first place so we haven’t discovered new shows to watch. In fact, we probably watch LESS through this. My reading habits haven’t changed since there’s always books to read. So for here, it’s the same old same old.
I’m a introvert for the most part, but this HAVING to stay home has taken a real toll. I miss the interconnection with the people outside my house who mean the most, that is my church family. I miss the hugs and laughter we share after service on Sunday with our fellowship & coffee time. I’ve often felt isolated which sounds like an oxymoron for an introvert. I know the Lord is with me, that’s never a question, but it’s hard not to feel such a gap. It feels like I’ve struggled more this year, to be honest.
Oh Trixi, I know exactly what you mean. Our daily habits, simple as they may have been, are now changed. That’s a tough adjustment. It’s also depressing to drive through and see all the empty parking lots … restaurants, theaters, places of employment, etc. I pray that we are close to returning to somewhat of a normal!
That’s a good list. My work has increased in stress level due to the many uncertainties and everyone’s anxieties being expressed freely so being home is actually my sanctuary. But I imagine extroverts feel the opposite. We’re rewatching our dvds, and I’ve discovered a number of “new to me” authors and have been binging on their published series – which has been fun. Our church services are now streamed (as required) but we have connected with a number of “new to us” churches – near and far – so those have been a positive experience in all of this. And yes, the weight issue is always a struggle. I’m trying to fit home yoga time in at home – it’s certainly doable – and the stretching of stiff, stressed muscles is good. A day at a time.
Great ideas. I like the yoga idea. I always feel much better after a yoga session after all that breathing and stretching.
Christina Sinisi says
We’ve been redoing the house and yard! Now, to Christmas decorating…
Yes! Can’t wait to start decorating for Christmas!