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  • Writer's pictureNancy

101 Things You Can Do While In Quarantine, Isolation, or "Sheltering in Place"

Young woman molding pottery with her fingers.
101 Things You Can Do While You're In Quarantine, Isolation, or Sheltering in Place, by Nancy Cronk 3/21/2020

If you are ill with Coronavirus right now, we send you our love and prayers for a speedy and full recovery! For everyone else, here are some ideas for things you can do as you stay home and wait this pandemic out. (You'll like this list-- only one of them is "Clean the garage"!)

1. Walk the dog. Don't have a dog? Ask a neighbor if you can walk their dog. (Do the leash hand-off with gloves on.) 2. Learn some new words or expressions in a foreign language. There are many free classes on-line: YouTube, Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone, etc. Label household items with sticky notes and tell yourself you can only take down the sticky notes when you're memorized the name of these items in the new language. 3. Take out a gadget you've never used and use it! Whether it is a Flowbee, Pasta Maker, Glass cutting machine, Soda spritzer, panini press, salad spinner or other machine that has been gathering dust, actually try it. 4. Call your parents (or grand parents or aunts and uncles). No living relatives? Call any elderly person you know. Many older people are frightened right now.

5. Buy a gift certificate to support your local artists and small businesses during these forced closures. Small businesses need us now more than ever. Sipping N' Painting Hampden is a perfect example -- buy a gift certificate here to support us until we can paint with you again!
Young woman reaching for a paint brush.

6. Learn to paint. There are hundreds (thousands) of You Tube Videos about how to paint basic things like trees, sunsets, clouds, etc. 7. Watch some Bob Ross on YouTube or Netflix, even if you don't want to paint. Just enjoy his calming voice, positive outlook, and carefree style. Lose yourself in the "happy little trees" and "happy little clouds".

8. Play cards. Remember how much fun it was when you were a kid? if you're alone, play solitaire. If you don't know how, YouTube it! 9. Clean the garage. You know you'll be happy later if you finally do it. You might even find some missing treasures!

Young African-american woman baking

10. Try a new recipe. The more exotic and "outside your comfort zone", the better. 11. Video yourself playing an instrument and post it for your neighbors on NextDoor. They will enjoy your concert (if you're good) or have a good laugh (if you're terrible). 12. Build a snowman or a sand castle (depending on where you live). Make a surgical mask out of a napkin and some rubber-bands, and put it on the face.

13. Write a love letter to someone. Anyone. (Okay, not a creepy stalker one, but a sweet one). Don't sign it. Mail it and let them wonder who their admirer could be!

14. Listen to your old records/CDs/ tapes. Remember what it felt like when you were young and heard them for the first time?

15. Watch old home movies/videos.

16. Call your cousins. Even the ones you haven't talked to in "almost forever".

Asian-American young woman reading from a tablet.

17. Research your family tree on Ancestry or 23&Me or Imagine what it was like for your ancestors who lived through the Great Depression, the Civil War, the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, the North Atlantic Slave Trade, the Irish Potato Famine, or whatever. Order a DNA test and find out your ethnicity "for reals". Be prepared for surprise information, family secrets and gut-wrenching stories.

18. Reread greeting cards and special letters you've saved.

19. Clean your closets and donate all your junk. Tell yourself, "Every item I get rid of is a gift for someone else!" Label the boxes "To Donate", then drop them off at Goodwilll or a similar donation site as soon as you can.

20. Get out your sewing kit. Sew the buttons on that article of clothing you stuck in the back of your closet (or the holes in your socks).

21. Start a blog! You choose the topic!

22. Have a Virtual Happy Hour with your friends using Whatsapp, Facetime or Skype. Drink to friendship and to life! L'Chaim!

23. Start making presents for the holidays. If you knit, knit. If you paint, paint. If you whittle, whittle. If you do nothing creative, start writing heartfelt notes to put in Christmas cards later.

24. Order seeds on-line and plant an herb garden. You know all those eggs you hoarded at the grocery store for the coming apolcalypse? Use the egg cartons as little seed starter compartments.

25. Write a love letter to your family for after you pass away, and stick it in a file with your will. You never know when they'll read it.

Woman with curly hair relaxing on her bed while reading.

26. Read the Bible. If you are a believer, take comfort. If you are not a believer, learn for understanding. Where did we get our Judeo-Christian values in America? What stories have infiltrated into common expressions and practices in our culture? Ask yourself which stories resonate with you and why, and which ones really bother you, and why?

27. Touch up paint all over your house.

28. Call your elderly neighbors and check on them. Tell them you are there if they need anything.

29. Order food from local restaurants and bakeries and have it delivered. You'll give them a fighting chance to compete with the big chains, and keep those mom and pops in business. You'll also help the delivery drivers who are probably laid off from other jobs and doing driving temporarily just to pay the rent.

30. Start a college fund at $1 day, for your children or other children you know. Add to it every day you are in quarantine, isolation or "sheltering in place", knowing you saved at least that much on gas that day. When everything is over, give them the jar of money.

31. Read a book you've been meaning to read for a long time. 32. Stretch. Nothing beats stretching for stress reduction, unless it's a bubble bath or a massage.

33. Give whomever you are isolated with a massage. Even if it is just you and the cat.

34. Take a bubble bath! (Just you, not the cat.)

Woman closing her eyes while taking a bath.

35. Sort out your pantry and medicine cabinet, and discard everything that has an expired date including spices and old medicines.

36. Learn a new dance. Again, YouTube is amazing for learning how to do anything!

37. Build a lending library out of an old milk crate and a post and stick in on your lawn. Put books you don't read in it anymore and put a sign on it that reads, "Free. Take one or leave one.)

38. Wrap a little gift or bake some cookies or banana bread for your neighbors. Label it with a sweet note and leave it on your neighbor's porch. Ring the doorbell and run! 39. Go carolling! Who said carolling is just for Christmas? Sing "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Star Spangled Banner" or "100 bottles of Beer on the Wall". It doesn't really matter what you sing, just spread some joy to your neighbors who are also stuck at home.

40. Fire up the fire pit. Call your neighbors, tell them to bring their own outdoor picnic, and always keep at least 6 feet apart while you visit and enjoy their company. Community can happen without being right next to each other! 41. Sew reusable cloth face-masks and give them to people you know with asthma, or donate them to fire departments, grocery stores, or health care workers.

42. Shovel your neighbor's snow, or mow your neighbor's lawn (depending where you live). Love is contagious. Pass it on! 43. Create a video on You-tube and make it go viral. Teach something, act out a skit, tell some jokes, whatever. Just have fun. Share the link with your friends and relatives. 44. Make a fort out of blankets and actually sleep in it. Your kids will think you are awesome.

45. Tell your family members about your childhood. Ask about their childhoods. You may be surprised what you learn.

46. Foster some kittens or puppies. Shelters are full of puppies and kittens and volunteers and staff can't just close up and go home. Someone needs to keep the animals alive. Volunteer to keep one or more at your home during the pandemic. (Animals do not pass on COVID19 -- only people do.) You never know... you might fall in love. with your fostered fur-baby.

47. Fix it -- whatever it is -- that squeaky hinge, loose board, stuck drawer, rotting window sill. Whatever it is you've been putting off for a long time!

48. Get some backyard chickens. They're legal in many cities now. Chickens are really fun to watch, don't cost much to feed, and will keep your kitchen stocked with free eggs. (The author of this blog is vegan and has 4 chickens. The dogs love the eggs, and the rescued chickens love their spacious backyard chicken coop, which was formerly a shed and a dog run). 49. Clean the refrigerator and make vegetable soup from all of those vegetables you hoarded at the grocery store, before they go bad.

50. Check on your neighbors or relatives with small children. Families with young children need lots of support. Being cooped up can really be a stress, particularly if one or more adults are out of a job, or sick with the virus. Offer to go to the grocery store for them, or just be someone they can talk to on the phone when they are stressed.

51. Remember, others probably have it much worse than you do. If you are one of the lucky ones and you still have a job, donate to your local homeless shelter, child abuse shelter, women's shelter, or any place where people are in greater need now more than ever.

52. Record your personal story for posterity -in writing or in a homemade video created on your phone.. Future generations will be glad you did.

53. Floss. Your dentist will notice and be so proud of you that you finally listened!

54. Sponsor a Child from Save the Children or Unicef or another non-profit. Literally, for pennies a day, you can help someone in another country. You'll get cards and letters as updates, and feel great about yourself! Your troubles will seem so minor in comparison.

55. Repot your plants if they need it, and watch them flourish.

56. Thank a nurse. Or a Dr. Or a bus driver. Or a grocery clerk. Thank everyone who is working right now in essential services. They want to be home avoiding germs now too, but they do what they do for you.

African-American doctor or nurse in blue scrubs.

57. Read a book to a child. If you don't have any of your own, call someone who does and read (or tell them a story) using Skype, WhatsApp or Facetime.

58. Make dinner for someone you love. Get dressed up. Light candles. Pour wine. Then dance after dinner. If you are home alone, do it for yourself!

59. Experiment with a crazy hairstyle or hair color. You're alone. Now's the time to get crazy. Because you can.

60. Write your elected officials - members of Congress, State Representative, State Senator, Governor, or City Council members. Get those views and opinions and suggestions off your chest. There's no time like the present.

61. Clean your gutters. Make sure someone is spotting you on the ladder. The sunshine will feel good, no matter the temperature outside.

62. Binge-watch a series on Netflix or HBO or Amazon Prime or PBS. Call the Midwife, When Calls the Heart, Poldark, and Transparent have been some of my favorites over the years.

63. Make a card for an elderly person in a nursing home and mail it.

64. Do yard work as weather permits. Staying active not only feels good but keeps us from moping.

65. Call your best friend from childhood. Reminisce about fun times.

66. Order takeout from an Asian restaurant. They've been unfairly targeted by racism and bigotry over COVID19. Show them neighborly love and help them stay in business.

67. Listen to oldies on Pandora or Syrius or whatever while you clean. Get up and dance like you used to! Cleaning and sanitizing doesn't have to be boring!

68. Organize your photos. Download and copy the photos from your phone, and store them carefully on your computer. Organize both the digital photos, as well as the paper ones in your home, by group. If you have grown children, save them for each of your children on a disc and give them as a gift.

Young African-American couple smiling while looking at a cell phone.

69. Call old friends. You know -- the ones you run into and you both say, "We really have to get together soon! Really this time! I miss you!" Check in and see if they are okay.

70. Plan that family reunion! 71. Get your taxes in order. Any time of year, you can look for receipts and organize them to make things easier when it is time to file.

72. Look at your Senior yearbook. Relive those memories and consider calling a childhood friend!

73. Play ball or fly a kite or go fishing with the children in your home. (Just remember to practice social distancing if others are around).

Mature couple drinking wine in a park next to bicycles.

74. Go outside. Take a walk or ride a bike. The fresh air and sunshine will help combat depression and give you a sense of perspective.

75. Pray or meditate. Contemplate the bigger picture. "This too shall pass."

76. Redecorate. Time to toss those dusty, fake plants on top of the cupboards, or put a new coat of paint over your front door. Throw out the floral curtains and order some on-trend horizontal fabric blinds, instead. Do whatever makes you feel happy in your home!

77. Get inspired. Read inspirational books like Lean In, or Chicken Soup for the Soul or Awaken the Giant Within or Man's Search for Meaning or The Purpose-Driven Life. 78. Learn History. Humans been through pandemics and crises before. Learn how those who came before us handled their trials and tribulations.

79. Talk with your kids, and really listen. Have real conversations about drugs, sex, climate change, etc. -- whatever they are concerned about.

80. Start a vegetable victory garden. Identify a corner of your yard and till it. Order seeds and potting soil on-line and start sprouting indoors in little cups. Spring is a great time to get started! After this pandemic passes, you'll have enough to share your bounty!

81. Create a time capsule out of an old cookie or coffee tin. Ask your family to record their thoughts, add some photos, and keepsakes, and put it away for 20 or 25 years!

82. Pack a lunch or two and go to where you know there will be homeless people on the corner, and hand some food out of your car window. It will feed their bellies, as well as your soul.

83. Consider calling someone you're estranged from. (This is a heavy suggestion.) Just consider it. In times of a pandemic, you never know when you'll be glad you put the past behind you.

84. Plan your next vacation! Whether you can afford a trip to Europe when all this is over, or just camping in the next county, look into the future and plan something fun after your freedom returns!

85. Start a business. Whether it is a business selling handmade fabric face masks or art kits for kids, let what you're learning from this experience give you entrepreneurial ideas.

Young man with headphones apparently gaming.

86. Have virtual video game competitions. Invite your boss or your neighbors or your Grandma to join you -- someone who wouldn't otherwise take an interest but might consider it while under quarantine.

87. Start a family Facebook group page. Check in on each other. Post photos of the kids and yourself to keep in touch. Just avoid politics and you should be fine!

88. Create a family gallery wall. Take out old, stiff, posed family photos from their frames and replace them with fresh, lively, active new ones.

89. Paint your pet! Print out a photo of your pet and sketch them on a canvas from the photo. it's okay if you are not very good. Take your time! (You have lots of time right now, remember?) Paint them with whatever you have laying around -- acrylics, pencils, markers, housepaint, chalk... whatever.

90. Clean the attic or basement. Make piles of things for others. Remember, every item you give away will be like a new gift for someone else! Anything you donate to charity, they will sell, and the proceeds will be part of one of their worker's salary. Or, organize it, price it, and as soon as it is safe to be round others again, have a garage sale!

91. Learn to juggle, play happy birthday on the guitar, or say your alphabet backwards. A good party trick is always fun to know!

92. Plan your end-of-life and funeral. I know this is a depressing one, but whether it is in 2020 or in 2090, someday we're all going to die. Do you want to be resuscitated or die a natural death? We should make sure our loved ones know at least the basics -- do you want to be buried or cremated? Where do you want your remains reside? Fine casket or plain pine box? Church service or private family graveside? Upbeat or somber? Have you pre-purchased your grave? Big wake with food, or simple, quiet scattering of ashes? Where will your survivors find your will? Make things easier on your loved ones and write down as many instructions as possible.

93. Write a book. Remember when you thought to yourself, "If I ever have time, I should write a book about...". Why not do it now?

Woman holding a tiny sapling.

94. Plant a tree. Climate change is real and it will effect everyone sooner or later. Plant some trees and buy humanity a little more time.

95. Learn to cook your favorite foods plant-based. Plant-based meals are healthier for you, for the planet, and definitely for the animals. There are many YouTube vegetarian and vegan cooking channels. Pretty much everything has a vegan substitute, and they make them pretty good these days!

96. Get your car's oil changed or do it yourself. Don't put it off any longer. You have time now, remember?!

97. Plan your post-isolation/quarantine "coming out" party for the summer! Start labeling envelopes for formal invitations, or design one on-line. Design your menu using items mentioned in Castaway or Gilligans Island..

98. Brush up on your Chess. There are simulation programs you can practice with on your computer.

99. Keep an isolation diary or scrapbook. Future generations will wonder what this period of time was like.

100. Read up on pandemics in general, and COVID19 specifically. Get your facts straight to keep yourselves and other safe.

101. Add to this list. Add your ideas in the comments below! Stay safe, friends! See you at the studio when all this is over! Cheers!


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