What to Do During (Unexpected) Life at Home
What we’re reading/watching/doing within these four walls
With so many of us now homebound, we’re looking at a whole new pace of life. We’re not dropping the kids off at soccer practice or rushing off to take the car to the shop. We’re just…home. Sure, it’s a change from the norm, but then it often goes a few ways: either boredom (or fear…or dread…or grief…or hunger) creeps in, or you’re running ragged from homeschooling and entertaining kids 24/7.
Whatever your mental state, we’ve assembled a curated master list of how we’re staying sane, occupied, entertained, and calm during these crazy shifting times.
Here’s what we’re reading, watching, doing, and thinking about doing while we embrace the lull.
- Books for the Ages: Check out The Washington Post’s list of the best books to read at every age, from 1 to 100.
- Now Is the Perfect Time to Lower the Parenting Bar from The Cut.
- The 40 Greatest Family Games from Slate. Transform screen time into game time with these immortal classics.
- How to Keep Your Cool, No Matter What. There’s not much that will make you panic after ten years of dog sledding in the wilderness. And there are lots of ways to feel equally calm in all kinds of emergencies.
- Atomic Habits by James Clear. How to build a good habit or break a bad one.
- The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes. A top-notch book club pick on love and friendship.
- To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins. An epic journey from Oregon to Patagonia and a quest to live life with no regrets.
- The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Take a journey to simpler times with this nine-part series that’s great for reading with the whole family.
- Blindness by Saramago. This nobel-prize winner comes highly recommended, but with a warning: if you’re looking for an uplifting read this isn’t it.
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Finally, you’ve got all the time in the world to crank through this thousand-page tome.
- The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. A hopeful story about normal everyday hobbits getting through impossible times, it’s perfect.
- Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. Set two decades after To Kill a Mockingbird (though written beforehand), this compelling story takes place in the height of the civil rights movement in the South.
- Me: The Elton John Autobiography. If you were hooked on the Rocketman movie, this book goes even deeper into the extraordinary rollercoaster life of this musical legend.
- Wanderers by Chuck Wendig. Somehow reading about a pandemic makes a real one a little easier to deal with?
- You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham. Ok, so none of us are reading this because we’ve all read it already but it’s SO GOOD. Even if you’ve been using YNAB for years all the pieces fall into place after reading this one.
Free stuff! Scribd is offering free books and audiobooks for 30 days. Audible is offering free stories as long as schools are closed.
- Good News Movement on Instagram. Worth a follow a thousand times over. Zero politics, only good news.
- Quarantine Karaoke group on Facebook. Just watch a few videos and you can’t help but be put in a better mood.
- Live Streams from Zoos and Aquariums. Penguins roaming the halls, a home safari with Fiona the hippo. Nature finds a way!
- The Metropolitan Opera is streaming a new opera nightly.
- Banjo Balm. Just Steve Martin playing a Banjo in nature. AKA exactly what you need to watch this right this moment.
- How to Budget in Uncertain Times a calming call-to-action from Ashley at YNAB.
- Jelle’s Marble Runs. This one’s for all the sports fans out there missing the thrill of the game.
- What Everyone Needs to Do With Their Money Right Now from Graham Stephan. Practical, helpful advice and YNAB even gets a little shoutout!
- The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart. Ok, we’re not watching it yet, but April 13 can’t come soon enough.
- The Office. When you can’t be around the office, you may as well binge watch it.
- Grey’s Anatomy. For anyone that missed it the first time around, the endless seasons offer solace as the guiltiest of guilty pleasures.
- Chef’s Table. Food being cooked is always mesmerizing.
- Outbreak. It’s like watching Contagion, but less eerily mirroring current events.
- Breaking Bad. Definitely the opposite of a lighthearted show but oh-so good.
- Schitt’s Creek. When a family goes from riches to rags living in a ramshackle hotel in a town they once bought as a joke. It’s often hilarious, refreshingly light-hearted, and perfectly heart-warming.
- The Good Place. Zany, silly, and pleasantly distracting—watch as self-absorbed Eleanor Shellstrop (played by Kristin Bell) tries to become a better person.
Other Streaming Services
- Gravity Falls on Disney+. Great for the whole family and perfectly fitting for this strange time.
- Timothy Failure: Mistakes Were Made. This one hits the mark as a perfect choice for family movie night.
- Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on nbc.com. It’s the perfect lighthearted show we all need right now.
- Detroiters on Comedy Central. Funny and absurd. Rene from our support team is working on his third time through it.
- Recipes from Apocalyptic Cooking: Cooking on the cheap in a helpful and hilarious way (warning: there are swears).
- Sarah von Bargen has a no-grocery challenge workbook that she’s currently offering in a pay-what-you-can promotion.
- America’s Test Kitchen. Right now, you can get total access for 3 months for just $1 (plus the linked article has common ingredients and their substitutions you might be looking for right now).
- Good Cheap Eats. Super relevant for such a time as this!
- @Thatguycancook on TikTok. Has cooking ever been so rhythmic and entertaining? He’s got easy, quick recipes and is a joy to watch.
- Budget Bytes. Cheap, easy meals and plenty of batch cooking recipes for inspiration.
- Milk Street Kitchen. Up your cooking game with their online courses (free until April 30!).
- Dancing with DJ D-Nice on Instagram Live. It’s a star-studded event.
- Playing Minecraft. Gamers just realized they’ve been practicing social distancing since 2003. Join in on the fun they discovered a decade and a half ago.
- Watching tulip bulbs come up. They’re just a little reminder that everything’s gonna be ok.
- Doing a long-distance craft with family. Caitlin on our team is crocheting a blanket with her mom and sister, sharing updates as they go.
- Organizing a virtual book club. Great for the sanity of mom tribes everywhere.
- Embracing Marco Polo/Skype/FaceTime/Zoom calls to stay close to friends and family. They’re full of plenty of lighthearted memes and jokes.
- Re-organizing the fridge, pantry, cabinets, and closets while listening to audiobooks.
- Staring at our dining budgets because the spending is so low. -YNABers everywhere
- Planning a Netflix Party. Watch movies with friends and family from afar. It syncs up your show/movie and adds in chat!
- Tending to our houseplants (and willing them to live).
- Meditating. Headspace has a ton of great resources right now if you just need a moment to…breathe.
Doing with Kids
- Crafting! Check out Curbside Pickup from Michael’s—you can pick up a huge order of art supplies for the kids (and you) for endless projects.
- Building Lego sets. Finally time to finish the build of Hogwarts Castle!
- Playing Monopoly. Just be sure you’re ready for hostility among your family once you open this Pandora’s box…
- Playing Ticket to Ride. Turns out you can binge a board game.
- Playing Azul. An easy-to-play game for the whole family! For 2-4 players, ages 8 years and up.
- Setting up a cleaning rotation for your kids…since they’re home all the time, they get to help!
- Assigning each kid a dinner to make.
- Cosmic Kids Yoga. The yoga poses are tied to a story so it’s fun!
- Aaptiv. An audio-based fitness program that will help you add structure to your workout routine.
- Sweat app. These 30-minute circuit-training workouts led by some of the best female fitness trainers can be done at home with minimal equipment. Trust us, you’ll be sweating buckets by the end.
- Fitnessblender. Free workouts for any fitness level.
- Yoga with Adriene. Stretch, strengthen, and feel the stress melt away in this wide assortment of yoga videos.
- Boxing coach and workout timer. A good way to turn your brain off and just move, especially in small spaces.
- Popsugar Fitness. Access hundreds of workouts from celebrity trainers.
- Support your local studio: many are offering remote classes via Instagram or Vimeo
- Get creative with weights: you can squat with laundry detergent, boxed wine, or your dog.
Thinking About Doing…
…But we haven’t gotten there quite yet. We’ve got time, right?
- Cleaning my closet. I haven’t done it yet. -Katie
- I’m considering (considering) doing the Couch to 5K program… -Kelly
- I bought a kitchen scale in anticipation of becoming “A Person Who Bakes.” -Chrissy
- Now that I finally have flour in stock…finally trying my hand at making a sourdough starter. -Buffy
- Mastering the mandolin, doing a workout every day, launching a workshop video series, doing a 12-step skin care routine every night. Have I done any of those things yet? No. But I did just eat an entire sleeve of Thin Mints and have no regrets. -Rachel
Whether you become a master guitar player or a master at Love is Blind trivia, we each handle these uncertain times in our own way. You do you, and take a moment in these strange times to savor the silver lining of extra (semi-undistracted) time with those you love.