After a few days at home, you may be searching for new ideas to occupy your family. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Get moving!
Don’t forget to stay active! A few minutes of activity can improve both your physical and your mental health. According to the Orange County Department of Health, adults need 30 minutes of activity a day, while children need 60 minutes a day to build strong bodies, good health and well-being. The U.S. Department of Health has noted that physical activity can help prevent chronic diseases, control weight, condition the heart and lungs, improve sleep, relieve stress and decrease the potential of becoming depressed, among other benefits.
Physical activity can be as simple as walking the dog. Other options are yoga, dancing around the house and fitness breaks like jumping jacks during TV commercial breaks.
For more ideas and resources, visit: healthyorange.com/physical-activity, andhealth.gov/moveyourway.
2. Reach out to Friends and Family
While social distancing is the phrase of the day, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to those you care about. Take advantage of those unlimited phone plans and call friends and family members that you haven’t spoken with in a while—or even those you have. Consider writing a letter or sending a card. Of course there’s always the option of social media, but the sound of a human voice can work wonders on a lonely soul.
3. The Honey Do List
Seize the opportunity to complete your list of projects to improve your space. Whether it’s simply spring cleaning and decluttering, or finally repainting the bedroom and putting up bookshelves, improving your space can also clear your mind. Don’t forget the yard and garden—now is the perfect time to start your own home garden.
Hardware stores currently fall into the essential business category, so many are still open, like Scotts Corners Paint & Hardware in Montgomery. Scotts Corners is limiting their services to no more than 5 customers in the store at a time and are now taking orders over the phone. Many stores are also offering free shipping or free delivery.
4. Get Board
Every student sent home from school has probably spent time playing video or online games, but be sure to take some time for board games! Add in some card games and a fun round of charades or even karaoke.
A jigsaw puzzle can also provide a welcome change of pace and mental challenge. While there are games that are meant for simple entertainment, many board games are also educational and can improve logic, creative, and critical thinking skills, all while giving some needed social interaction.
Depending on the game, the student can learn history, math, geography, spelling and reading comprehension skills while enjoying a competitive game. This is also an opportunity to teach your child how to win and lose with grace.
Catch up on your favorite TV show or find something new! Watch movies you’ve put off watching for months (or years)! There are movies and shows for every interest, so if you are up to date on your favorite shows, explore a new genre or check out some classic movies. With so many streaming services there are plenty of choices, as well as millions of videos on YouTube.
Don’t limit yourself to just entertainment—there are many educational options as well, from cooking programs to history, science and travel. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself and your family to something new.
6. Take a hike!
New York State parks are still open for solitary hiking—and all entry fees are currently waived! While following the guidelines for social distancing, you can still take the family to a local park for some needed fresh air and physical activity. The state parks are open during daylight hours, however facilities such as playgrounds, athletic courts and sporting fields are closed. The Walkway Over the Hudson, the Heritage Trail, Thomas Bull Memorial Park, Algonquin Park, Plum Point and the Orange County Arboretum are also still open for a stroll in the sunshine.
According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, “getting outdoors and connecting with nature is a way to help maintain our mental and physical health. Scientific studies show that time outside in nature, especially among trees, significantly reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, energy and sleep, and boosts the immune system.”
There are exceptions, however: residents aged 70 and older and those with compromised immune systems should remain indoors.
Visit parks.ny.gov/covid19/ and orangecountygov.com for updates and further information.
The suggestion to read should come as no surprise to the thousands of residents told to remain home, however there are many new options becoming available.
Due to the pandemic, many businesses have had to close their doors and the Montgomery Book Exchange is no exception. The small bookstore closed its doors on Sunday until further notice, but they are now offering a host of new services including free delivery within 15 miles, free shipping within the U.S. and photo and virtual browsing on their Facebook page and website: www.montgomerybookexchange.com.
Audible is offering hundreds of titles for children up to age 18, completely free of charge. They are available in multiple languages and can be accessed on any web browser. The titles have been hand selected to “entertain, engage and even educate young people who are stuck at home.”
While libraries are closed, patrons can still access many resources on their websites including downloading free books, magazines, audiobooks, music and videos. The Josephine-Louise Public Library in Walden has a number of free digital resources posted to their Facebook page, as does the Newburgh Free Library, among others.
You can also head over to StorylineOnline.net and have children’s books read to you and your children by actors and actresses like Viola Davis, James Earl Jones, Kevin Costner, Chris Pine and many others!
8. Shop Local (Online)
Many of our local small businesses and restaurants have had to close their doors due to the pandemic and many others are struggling, offering takeout options and free delivery. You can support your neighbors by shopping the websites and Facebook pages of your favorite local shops.
For more information, visit the Facebook page of your local chamber of commerce.
9. Indulge your Hobby
Perhaps you already have a hobby, but haven’t had the time to indulge in it—or maybe you haven’t yet found your passion. Now is the perfect time to learn a craft from jewelry making to woodworking to scrapbooking. Hobbies and crafts can be both enjoyable and therapeutic, and possibly even lucrative if you decide to sell your work online through a website like Etsy. Craft stores like Michaels in Newburgh are offering free curbside pickup and plenty of how-to videos on their website, including “boredom busters” for the kids at home like DIY slime and painting rocks.
10. Grow your Art
Take an art, dance or music class online! In Walden, the New York School of Music has transitioned their classes to online classes at NYSchoolofMusicOnline.com.
If you aren’t sure about committing to a paid class, there are many free classes offered online which you can peruse to find your new favorite activity.
Meanwhile, the writers out there can seize the moment to finally write that novel, memoir or children’s book. There are online courses for writers as well, in addition to a treasure trove of resources at NaNoWriMo.org, a non-profit organization that encourages writers worldwide to write a novel during National Novel Writing Month (November) and during their virtual camps in April and July. This organization is also for young writers and provides free resources to classrooms around the world.
11. Take a Virtual Tour
While zoos, art galleries and museums have been closed to the public, many are now offering virtual tours and exhibits online. Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with over 500 museums and galleries around the world and created a collection of virtual tours and online exhibits to famous museums from the Guggenheim in New York City to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam!
In addition, many zoos, aquariums and planetariums are now offering videos, live webcams and tours online so you can take a magical family trip without leaving your home!
Don’t forget to take some time for self-care while you are at home, including at least a few minutes in your own space, meditation and possibly a nap! Many religious services are also now being offered online. You can also follow guided meditation or practice yoga.
Remember if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help your loved ones either. Take time each day to tend to your mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health.