50 Free Things To Do During a Pandemic

We have been social distancing for about 11 days now and we are bored as hell.

There are 4 of us in this household: 2 adults, 1 teen, and 1 small dog. Yesterday, we all got extremely bored at the exact same time (yes, even the dog). The old standbys for killing time — take a shower, play a video game, go sit in the hot tub — had either been done already or held no appeal. We wandered around the house, bouncing “I’m so bored!” off the walls, triangulating each other’s positions like bats. We went for walks, we cleaned things, we decluttered things. But when you are already bored, these things too can be rather boring.

So I’m starting a list of things we can do in those moments of boredom. Some are short, 15-minute tasks. Some are all-day extravaganzas.

1. Go for a walk.

Really a no-brainer, but I have to put it on my to-do list or I forget. What if we all walked for an hour every day? Nothing but good things. Listen to a book or podcast while you walk. Take the dog!

2. Move things around.

Rearrange the furniture in a room, or every room. This also gives you the opportunity to clean under things that never get cleaned under!

3. Home improvements.

Go through the house and make a list of small things that need to be done/fixed. E.g., light bulbs that need to be replaced, doors that don’t close quite right, holes that need to be filled. Tackle something from this list each day.

4. Ride a bike.

I don’t ride my bike very often, but I’m going to start taking it out up and down the street anyway. Maybe one day I will graduate to HILLS.

5. Do squats and calf raises.

Every time you brush your teeth (hopefully twice a day at least!) do some squats. Start with 10 and work your way up to 30 at a time. 30 squats per day x 30 days = 900 squats in a month. Same with calf raises. Every time you go to the bathroom, (when you are DONE, not during) do 10 calf raises.

6. Plant some vegetable seeds.

I have a crapload of vegetable seeds started already and these things are divas. Water, light, fertilizer, rotate, pot them up into bigger pots… it’s a neverending story with these seedlings. But I will get my revenge when I eat their babies this summer.

Pepper seedlings 3/22/2020

7. Sit in the sun.

Go just sit outside for a while. Spend time outside every day so as not to turn into a pale, translucent, deep sea squid.

8. Clean the front yard.

9. Clean the back yard.

10. Clean the side yards.

11. Go for a hike.

We are lucky to have hiking trails nearby and some just a short drive away.

12. Let the kid drive.

I’ll be taking my 14-year-old out for driving lessons just for fun. There is much less traffic right now, and we live in an area without much traffic anyway. Let her put whatever music on that she wants.

13. Self-care: feet.

Soak your feet, scrub them up, and give yourself a pedicure. Yes, even if you are a dude.

14. Have a March Madness of your own.

Create a tournament/bracket for something (recipes, shows, restaurant chips & salsa, games, things on this list) and battle it out.

15. Self-care: hair mask.

We probably have a few around here somewhere, and if not, I think you could put some conditioner in the ends and leave it for 30 minutes, then go rinse it out.

16. Cook with a friend.

For teen: cook or bake something with a friend (via FaceTime of course). Both parties cook the same thing at the same time while chatting via FaceTime. Scrambled eggs? A cake? Cookies? Spaghetti? Doesn’t matter, cook something together then eat together via FaceTime. Bonus points if the adults leave you alone while you do it. Extra bonus points if you sit on the counter to eat.

17. Clean out your email inbox.

OK not super fun, but a useful task. Sort by sender and you can delete whole swaths of junk emails at once.

18. Unsubscribe from junk/advertising emails.

Now is a good time to minimize the noise coming into your life. Go through your email inbox and unsubscribe from all emails that are useless to you.

19. Check in with people you actually care about.

Text, email, phone call, FaceTime. Just a note to say you care!

20. Start a blog.

Have something to say? Want to share your daily pandemic boredom diary with millions of your closest strangers? I suggest Bluehost.com for hosting and WordPress.org for blog design. Though if you just want something very low-key and easy, you can just go through WordPress.com.

21. Take some pictures.

Take pictures of your family, house, bored teenagers, restless pets, to file under “quarantine 2020” and revisit later.

22. Self-care: face mask.

I know we have at least 12 months of face masks in this house. Everyone exfoliate and deep clean those pores! Bonus points if you all do it at the same time then take a picture to post on your new quarantine blog!

23. Sew something.

I have the fabric to make us some more “unpaper towels,” so that’s my sewing project for this pandemic. We have been using small cloth flannel/terry cloth towels instead of paper towels in the kitchen for a couple of years, and our current ones are pretty narsty looking. So it’s time for new ones!

24. Learn a new musical instrument.

OK this one is for my kid, not me, as I have no musical skills whatsoever. But my kid can play the ukulele and is teaching herself the mandolin, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and now… banjo!

25. Do an art project.

The weirder and more complex the better.

26. Have a family penny poker night.

I don’t know anything about poker, but I bet youtube can teach me.

27. Deep clean something.

Fridge, freezer, that weird space behind the toilet, the baseboards in the closet, those desk drawers. Pick one thing per day. It’s spring, after all! Spring clean something!

28. Make a new recipe.

You may start running out of your favorite pantry and fridge items soon. See what you can make with the stuff in the BACK of the freezer and pantry!

29. KonMarie your clothes and shoes.

30. Play a board game.

Everyone together. Yes, even if your teen hates the idea. Do it anyway.

31. Do a puzzle.

I don’t know. Seems like no one wants to do this, but I need to put it on here anyway. I actually like to do puzzles, I just never have space for them.

32. Make a schedule.

Plan your days, scheduling things you want to do. Then don’t be afraid to break that schedule if something better comes along. Brownies and THE IRISHMAN instead of cleaning behind the fridge? OK!

33. Go for a drive.

30 minutes with the radio up and the windows down.

34. Read an actual paper book.

You know you have one somewhere.

35. Crush some Candy.

Or get a new game on your device – phone, kindle, etc.

36. Fight zombies together.

Play video games with your kid(s) and or partner.

37. Learn to knit or crochet.

Honestly, I’ve tried! I can do one crochet “thing” but knitting makes no sense to me. I could probably learn on youtube!

38. Make your family emergency binder.

Get your important papers together in one place.

39. Work on your finances.

This is the most excellent time to trim the fat on bills and services. Go through your finances and see what you can suspend or get rid of until conditions improve (subscriptions, AAA, HBO, GeekSquad, etc.). Bonus: do your taxes.

40. Uber Candle.

Gather all your old almost-gone candles and melt them into one master candle!

41. HOLA! BONJOUR! BOM DIA!

I don’t think it’s possible to learn a new language at home on your own in the span of a few weeks or months, but you can learn to say HELLO in several languages! Make a list of 20 languages, and learn to give a casual greeting in each language.

42. Pet Rocks because Why Not?

Gather up some rocks and paint them.

43. Clean the windows.

Inside AND OUT.

44. Watch some shows and movies.

Either of the THE LAST SHIP or CONTAGION or OUTBREAK variety, or of the silly Hallmark channel “lady leaves the hectic big city to fix up the surprise family inn in Vermont and finds love with the gruff handyman” variety.

45. Go down the YouTube rabbit hole.

Might I suggest something along the lines of REAL DOCTOR REACTS TO MEDICAL SHOWS

46. Clean the oven.

Not fun, but important!

47. Watch all of Downtown Abbey

(or whatever show you’ve never seen but it seems like everyone else has seen — Breaking Bad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, NCIS)

and of course:

48. Stay Home

49. Wash Your Hands

50. Be Part of the Solution, not Part of the Problem!

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