These weeks at home might not necessarily be the best of times, but they don’t have to be the worst. There are a lot of great ideas out there right now about how to stay connected with family and friends, entertain the kids AND keep your sanity during this uncertain and open ended period of social distancing. Pick one or two of these 10 Pandemic Hacks to try this week, share your best ideas with us on Instagram, and don’t forget to send good thoughts out to the healthcare workers, grocery and restaurant workers, and other essential workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way for us every day. Also send a few good thoughts to those battling this virus and their families. Stay safe and wash those hands!
Make a to-do list the night before. The weird thing is, we have all the time in the world. But the days seem to fly by without us being able to get everything accomplished. This is especially true if you are trying to work, teach, care for your kids, and get some of those tasks off your to-do list. Oh yeah, and then of course there’s working out and making sure everyone can eat. Try making a to-do list the night before so you don’t lose track of time in this new “normal”.
Schedule Your Chores. Jennifer B. suggests using the Motivated Moms App which allows you to choose from pre-loaded chores or input your own. If you have older kids (including the kid you’re married to), you can have them download the app on their devices, assign them tasks, and the app will hold them accountable for completing them. Theoretically, this will also enable you to yell less when no one but you seems to be taking any responsibility for moving the laundry to the dryer or putting the dishes in the dishwasher.
Send them on a GooseChase. You can assemble a photo scavenger hunt for family and friends on the GooseChase app. Walk around the neighborhood with your kid and snap pics of landmarks. Create a clue for each and then send players on a goose chase. The free version allows up to 3 teams of up to 3 players. Then challenge your friends to reciprocate. Or, rally your friends and neighbors to put a teddy bear or stuffed animal in the window so kids on walks with their parents can follow the Teddy Bear Trail. Some communities are even putting together FaceBook groups to track the locations of the furry friends.
Virtual Family Game Nights. Get creative. You can play charades and Pictionary on Zoom. Or check out Jackbox. Players can dial into Zoom and then connect to the jackbox host and answer questions on their devices. Online Kahoot is also an option.
Watch a movie alone together. Netflix Party, a Google Chrome extension, allows you to watch the same movie with friends and family wherever they are. Once you’ve installed the extension, you can go to Netflix, select a movie, copy and paste the URL and send the link to anyone you’d like to share the movie with. Unfortunately, they haven’t figured out how you can share your popcorn yet.
Organize a drive in movie night. Joanna S. tells us that her neighbors are organizing a drive in movie night in their cul-de-sac. They’re inflating a giant movie screen then all the neighbors can sit in their own cars (again with their own snacks) and watch the movie “together”.
Make homekeeping seem like fun. Teach your kids to sew, knit, garden, wash the cars, and cook. All you have to do is turn it into a game or use a craft kit and they’ll be learning valuable skills all while thinking they’re just having fun. At our house, the girls ran M&K’s restaurant last night. They made and served the food to the rest of the family. Sadly, their parents were still on KP duty but they still learned a lot about meal planning and the time it takes to prepare dinner. No word on how to make toilet cleaning or lawn mowing sound better. Maybe a spoon full of sugar?
Theme Dinners. Search the house for costumes. For little kids, Dr. Seuss (food that rhymes) or bring a friend to dinner a la Corduroy or Knuffle Bunny. Older kids might enjoy themes like High School Musical either OG or The Musical: The Series, Clueless, Mean Girls, Princess Bride, etc. Work together on a menu.
Make a Machine. A Rube Goldberg machine, that is. Check out YouTube to see some of these ping pong obstacle courses people are making. Challenge your older kids to do one themselves. Or to help your younger kids. Parents of younger kids, think of this like you’d think of a puppy. Totally your project that your kids want to do but won’t help with at all.
Minute to Win It Challenges. They might take more than a minute, but Debbie B. suggests randomly texting challenges, treasure hunts or tasks to family and/or friends. First person to text back a photo of the completed challenge gets the points. Examples might be finding 5 red things, 3 things related to golf, four flowers, etc. You can put a time limit on this or it could go on for days. In light of recent news, we might suggest days.