With two weeks or more of quarantine under our belts and an announcement yesterday that more stringent lockdown measures will be in place until June 10, 2020, panic (i.e., boredom) is starting to set in. I mean, we were already feeling anxiety for our family’s health, but now with two more months of home schooling and entertaining kids to look forward to, it’s our sanity that feels most at risk. The only comfort is that we’re all in the same boat, so today we’re going to share some of our favorite boredom busters – inside activities that will help to break up the monotony of our daily routines.
Most of us have already gone through our complete line-up of board games, learned exactly how many of our family’s puzzles are missing one or more pieces, and made a pretty serious dent in our craft supplies. But with countless listicles out there filled with games and activities for kids, we thought it would be fun to offer some ideas for the whole family. And so without further ado, here are some of Richmond Mom’s favorite boredom busters!
1. Have a Fancy Dinner Night
How often have we complained, or even just merely mentioned, that we never use our fancy dinnerware? Regardless of how long you’ve been married, it’s likely you can count on one hand the number of times you actually used your “good” china. So bust it out and fighgt boredom with a fancy dinner night.
Plan at least one nice dinner each week and have a “fancy” family date night. Set the table properly, let the kids have their drinks in a wine glass, take a minute to put on something nice, and make a production of it. Especially as we all attempt to support our local businesses, you may even want to consider using “fancy dinner night” as a chance to get take out from your favorite local restaurant.
2. Spend a Night at the Theater
We’ve probably all watched more movies than we can count in the last few weeks. So add a twist to family movie night and try something a bit more…”elevated,” if you will. Fight boredom with a night at the “theater” (yes, this means the living room). You might want to use this idea to follow up on fancy dinner night – or make it a separate night altogether. Some elegant snacks and perhaps even some fancy dress can round the evening out and make it something truly special.
For viewing options, check your usual streaming services for classic movies, or try something a bit more cultural like a musical, ballet, or opera. Here are some resources to check out:
RPAA (Richmond Performing Arts Alliance): support your local arts’ programs with the RPAA’s Legends at Home series featuring Richmond legends. The series starts with Desirée Roots on Wednesday, April 1st and Anthony Cosby-Knowles on Friday, April 3rd. Additional Richmond Legends will include Georgia Rogers Farmer, Debra Wagoner, Cathy Motley-Fitch, Susan Greenbaum, Audra Honaker and others. All performances will be streamed at 12pm and 7pm on Facebook @RPAAlliance and the RPAA website at rpaalliance.com/rpaa-live-streaming-event.
Broadway HD: hundreds of live Broadways shows, plays, and performances. Free 7-day trial, $9.99/month after.
Filmed on Stage: an online database for filmed Broadway and West End theater. You will need to download an extension and purchase some shows, but be sure to check the home page for an extensive list of shows that are now available to stream for FREE.
The Actor’s Fund Youtube: see stars like Kristin Chenoweth, Billy Porter, and Tina Fey perform in mini Broadway shows for the public. And while the show are technically free, donations are encouraged to help fund coronavirus relief.
The Royal Opera House: as part of its #OurHouseToYourHouse campaign, The Royal Opera House will be broadcasting live on YouTube every Friday evening in April. The schedule features classic shows like The Metamorphosis and The Winter’s Tale, with Peter and the Wolf. You’ll also be able to catch live music and behind-the-scenes action on the Royal Opera House’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
3. Throw a Dance Party
Use one of your favorite music services (Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, etc.) to create a “Lockdown Playlist.” Have fun with it! Include songs that are personal or family favorites, go for a theme making sure all the songs match your theme, or just find music that makes you happy. Grab the bluetooth speakers, crank up the volume, and have some fun! You can even take the opportunity to choreograph a dance together or learn a previously choreographed dance. Think of it this way, once we can all get together again, your family will be a shoo-in to win the talent show at your next family reunion. (It’s all about silver linings at this point, folks.)
P.S. Costumes are welcome!
4. Host a Silent Disco or “Musical Charades”
Ok, for this one, everyone will need a phone or personal music player and some earphones. Now all you have to do is play your music and dance. You can either synchronize a song that everyone can dance to together, share a playlist that everyone can shuffle, or everyone can pick their own music. Be sure to pop your earphones out every now and then to get the full effect of the dancing sans music…it’s funnier than you might think.
If you want to kick it up a notch, make a list of 5-10 songs that everyone in your family is familiar with. Put the songs in a hat and have each family member draw a song. Without showing it to anyone else, each family member will then have to put the song on their phone or music player and dance (with headphones, of course, so no one else can hear it). The other family members can then take turns guessing which song was playing. If you were ever wondering when those lyrical ballet or jazz lessons you paid for would come in handy, this is it!
5. Film a Cooking Show
If you’re like many of us, you’ve already eaten your best quarantine snacks and the pantry is now filled with a random collection of odds and ends that don’t make any sense – and probably won’t get eaten without a little creativity. Enter everyone’s favorite cooking show, Chopped.
If you’re not familiar with this Food Network hit, then here’s a quick rundown. Each show features three chefs who are given a basket of bizarre ingredients from which they must make a restaurant-worthy dish. Watch a few episodes as a family if you need some inspiration, then host your own version of the show. Here’s how it would work:
- Choose a judge, a host, and contestants (it’s ok if people play more than one part)
- Have the judge select a handful of ingredients and divide them into equal parts for each contestant.
- Select a time frame for completion of the dishes…20 minutes, 30 minutes, etc. If your kitchen isn’t big enough for more than one cook at a time, allow each member to have a turn and set their dish aside when they’re done.
- Have the “host” film bits and pieces (or all) of the cooking process so you can watch it later as a family – or anytime boredom sets in. Be sure to include plenty of commentary and dialogue.
- Finally, once each contestant had made their masterpiece, the “judge” can pick a winner.
If you want to do something more traditional (i.e., no weird ingredients), follow the same basic rules to recreate other popular show like Cupcake Wars, the Great British Baking Show, Master Chef, and more. And yes, the kitchen will be a mess, so be sure that clean-up is part of the “family fun”!
6. Organize a Round of Family Speed Cleaning
One of the greatest challenges of having everyone home ALL THE TIME is keeping the house clean. And one of the greatest challenges of trying to keep the house clean is getting everyone to participate in clean-up. Granted, tell anyone they need to spend the next three hours doing chores and even the best among us will grumble. So lighten up your standards just a bit and beat boredom with “speed cleaning” opportunities. Assign each family member a room, set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes, and….GO. Offer a prize for whomever does the best job in the time assigned. Maybe they get to sit out the next round, are allowed sleep in an extra hour, or earn an extra hour of screen time. Just be creative and have fun with it.
7. Have a Camp Out
We’re all missing opportunities to go somewhere – anywhere. We’re missing trips to the river with friends, we’re cancelling planned vacations for spring break, and we’re longing to see something other than the four walls that surround us. So why not go camping? If you have the gear and the backyard for it, plan a family camp out. Set everything up just as if you were in a campground and turn your yard into an boredom busting adventure.
If you don’t have the camping gear or yard space but still need an escape, simply change things up. Turn the living room into a massive blanket fort. Bring in snacks, make s’mores in the microwave or oven, use flashlights, tell scary stories, and spend the night together in your own homemade indoor tent.
8. Start training for that 10k
We all know the importance of physical exercise for overall health. And right now, physical exercise is going to be important for our family’s mental health, as well. If you’ve thought about participating in a scheduled race, now is the time to start training. And, while we’re all lamenting the loss of Richmond favorites like the Monument Avenue 10k, keep in mind that race organizers are already re-scheduling. For example, the Monument Avenue 10k is rescheduled for September 26, giving you plenty of time to get ready. If you are already signed up for a race that is being re-scheduled, but perhaps didn’t include the whole family in the sign-up, this might be your chance to get everyone into race form and turn it into a family event.
You can also hold virtual races with other families. Pick a race day and when it rolls around, time your family, have others do the same, and compare results.
9. Plan a Scavenger Hunt
In our recent article Ways to Stay Emotionally Connected While Social Distancing, we mentioned ways to stay connected to family and friends while remaining isolated. You may remember one of our suggestions – a neighborhood scavenger hunt. In this example, we talked about starting a scavenger hunt with neighbors in which people could place items in windows or on their lawns and families could search for them while out on family walks.
However, you can also host your own family scavenger hunt. Simply create a list of items that you might encounter while out on a family walk. First person to spot the items gets to cross it off their list, so be sure to include things that you might see more than once. At the end of your family walk, tally up your totals and offer a prize for the family member with the most things crossed off.
10. Make Video Journals – All Day, Every Day
We are living in an unprecedented time. With the rare exception, no one alive today has ever experienced what we’re going through right now. This is a significant moment in history – so document it! We have incredible technology at our fingertips and one day, we will look back on this time and remember how it affected us, for good or for bad. Whether you capture family skits, record the family dance parties we mentioned above, stage your own cooking shows, or simply take turns talking into a camera about how this is impacting your life – together or individually – one day these moments will be memories. We don’t want to forget the lessons we are learning right now. Be sure to take a few moments every day, every other day, or once a week, to preserve your videos and photos on your computer or portable hard drive; or create your own YouTube channel. You may or may not become a viral sensation, but you’ll have this time to look back at for years to come.
The bottom line is that we cannot control the final outcome of a pandemic like this, but we can control our response and part in it.
Just remember, this time will pass – it may not be pretty, but it will pass. If nothing else, our hope – for our family and yours – is that we will look back on this time, not as moments that were wasted, but as a time of learning, exploring, and building family bonds.
Stay healthy, Richmond! We’re thinking of you always.