Tom Lohr hates being stuck in the house, loves dogs, and did not get a flu shot this year.
Home Sweet Home?
Eventually, it happens to everyone. For some reason, you get stuck at home for days or weeks at a time and have to fight off cabin fever to keep from doing something crazy and irresponsible. It might be a storm that drops feet of snow in your area, shutting everything down until it clears, a long illness, or perhaps the worst of all: a media driven, over-hyped, flu-like virus that is touted as the second coming of the Black Death and causes a national panic and shut down.
Whatever the reason you find yourself sequestered or quarantined in your humble abode, you need a plan to stave off the inevitable stir-craziness. If not treated quickly, you might actually find yourself wishing to go back to work or school.
Here are ten ideas to help pass the time while you wait out your personal illness, weather catastrophe or global pandemic.
1. Binge Watch Something Interesting
Trust me, watching hours of daytime television will make you wish that whatever has you shuttered kill you. Between game shows and soap operas, it is a wonder our society has not reverted to cro-magnonism.
With Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, and other streaming services, there is a ton of actual good entertainment and education available to stream. Watching a highly acclaimed series from beginning to end, from the opening season to the series finale, is satisfying. It will also keep you from feeling out of the loop as your friends and co-workers keep referencing it. Some suggestions are Longmire on Netflix, The Americans on Amazon Prime, and 12 O'Clock High on YouTube.
2. Learn New Hobby-Related Skills
Speaking of YouTube, it is the 21st century well of knowledge for just about anything you want to know (and some things you didn't). Where YouTube shines is offering videos of how to do or improve doing something. It is the perfect source to learn something new related to your hobby.
Photography has a ton of very good “how to” content. As well as photography post-processing. Always wanted to know how to replace the sky in a photo using Photoshop? YouTube has the answer. The same goes for woodworking, knitting, crafts, cooking, and many others. Learn a new trick or two.
3. Complete a Puzzle
Not only does putting together a jigsaw puzzle help exercise your brain, but there is nothing more gratifying than placing that last piece. It is also something you can do to pass time on the fly. Cleaning the house? Between vacuuming and dusting, take a 15-minute break and put a few pieces together. Same as you wait for the coffee machine, toaster, or egg timer to finish.
Get a puzzle of at least 1000 pieces to make it a worthy goal. There are many available for pennies in most thrift stores.
4. Organize Your Personal Paperwork
Do you know where your original birth certificate is? Me neither. I know it is in my house somewhere, but it will take me at least an hour to hunt it down. A day spent putting all of your important paperwork from car maintenance records to tax information in some kind of system that makes sense to you, and in one place, will pay huge dividends in the future. Getting audited by the IRS? At least now you know where to find your tax documentation.
5. Clean Out Your Digital Photos
Take a look at the graph on your phone or computer that shows what is taking up storage on your digital device. It will always be the photos. Chances are you aren't even friends with most of those people you took selfies with. And you probably don't want those pics you snapped while you had too much to drink to ever see the light of day (or the internet).
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Kill two birds with one stone and delete the pics you no longer need or want, and download the ones that you do to some external storage so you don't become one of the many victims of lost memories when your device crashes, gets lost/stolen or blows up.
6. Walk Your Dog
You need exercise. And your dog always wants to be walked. Use the time to take a walk together around the block a few times, several times a day. Our canine companions are only with us a short time, and every human that has a dog always wishes they had spent more time with it after Rover has crossed the rainbow bridge. And there is NOTHING your dog would rather do than spend time with you.
In fact, don't let it stop at a walk. Take the opportunity to bond even more with your pooch and plan a doggie date night for when you are no longer stuck in your house.
7. Challenge Yourself to Do Something You Would Not Normally Do
Someone gave me some advice once when I was stuck in one spot for 13 months (it was the South Pole, and you don't get any more stuck than that): try to do something you would never normally do. For me, it was reading a romance novel. I always thought they would be shallow, trite, and predictable. It ends up I was right, but at least now I know what I am talking about when I trash romance novels.
For you, it might be to learn to sew, cook ethnic food, cut your own hair, or anything else. But give it a whirl. You might actually like it or be surprised by how useful it is.
8. Call Your Grandparents or Parents
Once we become adults, few of us spend enough time communicating with our closest relatives. When was the last time you called your mom or dad, or if you are lucky enough to still have them, your grandparents? They won't be around forever, and most people wish they had spent more time with them while they were alive. Calling them is the next best thing.
Make a list of all of your relatives, and call the ones you actually care about. Brothers, sisters, special cousins, aunts and uncles. Keeping in touch with family is always time well spent.
9. Write Your Congressman and/or Senator
Our political representatives cannot represent us if they do not know what is important to us. Everyone has something they are passionate about that only politicians can influence. Want to know why your favorite author has never been on a US postage stamp? Ask your person in DC to look into it. Are you a big believer in universal healthcare? Make your position known.
Believe it or not, nearly all of the letters sent to your congressman is read by someone, and if deemed valid brought to the attention of that representative. Whether they actually do anything about it is anyone's guess, but if you don't ask, they will certainly do nothing.
10. Make a Donation Box
Clean out your closets and basement and shed. I guarantee you there are things hanging in your closet that you have not worn in well over a year, and let's face it, you are never going to be a size 2 again. If it doesn't fit or has not been worn in over 12 months, donate it. The same goes for your old glasses (they can be reused), electronics, dishes, bedding, etc. There are some great organizations out there that fund what they do by operating thrift shops. Not only will you be keeping your unused items out of the landfill and making extra space in your home, but making these items available cheaply helps keep a lot of citizens on budget.
The Clock Starts Now
If you are going to be stuck in the house for any length of time, you might as well get something accomplished. Trust me, after it is all over your friends and co-workers will ask you what you did during your time off. You don't want your answer to be “gained 10 pounds.” The above list contains some productive suggestions, but after knocking them out, make your own list. Your dog is not the only one whose time on the planet is limited, you just get a little more. Do something with it.
Liz Westwood from UK on March 24, 2020:
Lock down has come in the UK so your tips make for interesting reading. I would also add widening the scope of calls to vulnerable friends.