MONTVILLE, NJ – With school out for the foreseeable future and adults mostly working from home, now is the time to take advantage of this time indulgence and make the most of the situation. Put a positive spin on being home by having a few strategies in mind.

Extra Learning – Now is a great time for you or the kids to indulge in all the great resources the internet has to offer. From virtual field trips to science discussions, there is a vast store of knowledge out there to be tapped. Here are just some examples: Ted Ed (honestly these are not just for kids – you’ve seen Ted Talks), Khan Academy, Brain Pop, Scholastic Learn at Home, Quizlet and PBS Learning Media. Podcasts are great too – NPR has hundreds of them.

Projects

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This is a great time to take on big projects. Clean out your closet. Organize the basement. You’ve got time and lots of helpers. But sometimes those projects still seem overwhelming, so break them up into parts. Maybe just do the top shelf of the closet today, and the hangers tomorrow. This way you aren’t intimidated.

Tackle Jobs that will Give you a Sense of Accomplishment

If cleaning out your closet is too big of a task, maybe just do little things that you couldn’t normally do without this amount of time on your hands, but will give you a sense that you really did something, like washing the kids’ coats or deep cleaning the TV and computer screens (follow manufacturer’s instructions). These jobs only take a short amount of time – maybe 15 minutes – but when you’re done, the results really improve your life. You won’t get a block of time like this to wash blankets and coats, fold pillowcases a la Martha Stewart (how DO you fold a fitted sheet anyway?), or re-organize the junk drawer. These may not be huge tasks, but the results will improve your life in tiny, noticeable ways when you can find a black marker in no time flat next time you need it.

Schedule

Make a schedule, with time for play and time for screens – time for bingeing, eating and bedtime. It’s all too easy to stay up all night. But with some structure to your days, you will get more done and feel better.  Khan Academy has a bunch for different age groups here. They may not be color coded, but they take into account the different attention spans of different grades.

Put a Positive Spin

Think of this as a time indulgence. Surely there is something you’ve always wanted to do but always said, “I don’t have the time for that right now.” Is it

  • Calling an old friend?
  • Putting pictures in a scrapbook?
  • Learning how to make homemade pasta?

You’ve been given that gift. Get out the boxes. Look up the phone number or the recipe. Reward yourself.

Read Something You’ve Read Before

We all have that favorite book – maybe it’s a classic. Maybe it’s just a regular, modern book that we read and loved, like Harry Potter. Maybe it’s our spiritual book such as the Bible or the Koran. We’ve always wanted to re-tackle it but we said to ourselves, “No, I need to read this first. I need to read new books. I can’t re-read anything.” Now’s the time. You have a gift. Read your favorite book again – or share it with your family – read it together.

Cook and Use Up that Pantry

Take an inventory of your fridge, freezer and pantry. Design meals around what you’ve got. Use it up. You’ve got canned stuff – you’ve got frozen food. Design meals so that you can take advantage of what’s in there so you can be more creative with your current stock. It will keep you out of the over-crowded grocery store, it will get your cooking juices flowing, and it is very cost-effective.  Supercook has an ingredient search – just type in or click on ingredients and it will find you a recipe to make using what you’ve already got.  

Coloring

Either with the kids or by yourself, coloring is therapeutic because it gets your mind off the world. The Happy Color – Color by Number app lets you tap on various colors until you have a detailed finish product. If you’re more of a marker/crayon sort of person, Happiness is Homemade has a list of all different sorts of pages you can print out and color.

Free Streaming

There are a lot of websites that are offering free movies, but also cultural events like operas and plays. One is the Mayo Performing Arts Center, which is featuring more than 30 plays, concerts and shows for all ages; another is the Metropolitan Opera. YouTube offers free movies – just scroll down to the “free to watch” section. Vudu is another site. Kanopy is free with a Montville Township Public Library card.

Break from Screentime, Social Media, and the News

Conversely, give yourself a break and just relax without a screen. Use your iPod or MP3 player to play some really relaxing music and just chill. Some might call this meditation, but you don’t have to have a formal name for it. If you want to get fancy about it, Calm is offering meditations, calm music, and sleep stories – like Matthew McConaughey reading the book Wonder.

Make the most of your time and when we come out on the other side of this – which we will – you’ll have a clean closet (right?) an organized pantry (we hope) and a new appreciation for being in crowds!

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