Most people may not be used to having to stay at home. Due to a soccer (football) injury, I had to stay put for a long time, yet, I hardly ever got bored (lonely, at times, yes, but doing things makes one forget about that, be content with one’s own company, and get lots of new knowledge experiences along the way). As a silver lining of that—and since I’m missing out on some social activities now as well—I’m compiling a (non-exhaustive) ‘what to do?’ list, which may give you some idea(s) to make good use of the time spent at home, besides working for home if you can or have to. They’re structured in three main categories: enriching the mind, being creative, and exercising the body, and there’s an ‘other’ category at the end.
Enrich the mind
If you haven’t signed up for the library, or aren’t allowed to go there anymore, here are a few sources that may distract you from the flood of COVID-19 news bites:
- Old novels for free: The Gutenberg project, where people have scanned and typed up old books.
- Newer novels for free: here’s an index of free books, or search for ‘public domain books’ in your favourite search engine.
- A new language to read, speak, and write. Currently, the most popular site for that is probably Duolingo. If you’re short on a dictionary: Wordreference is good for, at least, Spanish, Italian, and English, Leo for German<->English, and isiZulu.net for isiZulu<->English, to name but a few.
- A programming language. There are very many free lessons, textbooks, and video lectures for young and old. If you have never done this before, try Python.
- Dance. See ‘exercises’ below.
- Some academic topic. There are several websites with legally free textbooks, such as the Open Textbook Archive, and there is a drive toward open educational resources at several universities, including UCT’s OpenUCT (which also has our departmental course notes on computer ethics), and there are many MOOCs.
- Science experiments at home. Yes, some of those can be done at home, and they’re fun to do. A few suggestions: here (for kids, with household stuff), and here, or here, among many sites.
- Keeping a diary may sound boring, but we live in interesting times. What you’re experiencing now may easily be blurred by whatever comes next. Write it down, so you can look back and reflect on the pandemic later.
- Write stories (though maybe don’t go down the road of apocalypses). You think you’re not creative enough for that? Then try to re-tell GoT to someone who hasn’t seen the series, or write a modern-day version of, say, red riding hood or Romeo & Juliet.
- Write about something else. For instance, writing this blog post took me as much time as I would otherwise have spent on two dance classes, this post took me three evenings + another 2-3 hours to write, and this series of posts eventually evolved into a textbook. Or you can add a few pages to Wikipedia.
These activities tend to call for lots of materials, but those shops are possibly closed already. The following list is an intersection of supermarket-materials and artsy creations.
- Durable ‘bread’ figures with salt dough, for if you have no clay. Regular dough for bread perishes, but add lots of salt, and after baking it, it will remain good for years. The solid dough allows for many creations.
- Food art with fruit and vegetables (and then eat it, of course); there are pictures for ideas, as well as YouTube videos.
- Paper-folding and cutting to make decorations, like paper doll chains, origami, kirigami.
- Painting with food paints or make your own paint. For instance, when cooking beetroot, the water turns very dark red-ish—don’t throw that away. iirc onion for yellow and spinach for green. This can be used for, among others, painting eggs and water-colour painting on paper. Or take a tea sieve and a toothbrush, cut out a desired figurine, dip the toothbrush in the colour-water and scrape it against the sieve to create small irregular drops and splashes.
- Life-size toilet roll elephant figures… or even toilet roll art (optionally with paper) 😉
- Knitting, sewing and all that. For instance, take some clothes that don’t fit anymore and rework it into something new (trousers into shorts, t-shirt as a top, insert colourful bands on the sides).
- Colourful thread art, which requires only a hammer, nails, and >=1 colours of sewing threads.
Exercise that body
Barbie memes aside, it is very well possible to exercise at home, even if you have only about 1-2 square meters available. If you don’t: you get double the exercise by moving the furniture out of the way 🙂
- Yoga and pilates. There are several websites with posters and sheets demonstrating moves.
- Gym-free exercises, like running on the spot, making a ‘steps’ from two piles of books and a plank and doing those steps or take the kitchen mini-ladder or go up and down the stairs 20 times, push-ups, squats, crunches, etc. There are several websites with examples of such exercises. If you need weights but don’t have them: fill two 500ml bottles with water or sand. Even the NHS has a page for it, and there are many other sites with ideas.
- Dance. True, for some dance styles, one needs a lot of space. Then again, think [back at/about] the clubs you frequent[ed]: they are crowded and there isn’t a lot of space, but you still manage(d) to dance and get tired. So, this is doable even with a small space available. For instance, the Kizomba World Project: while you’d be late for that now to submit a flashmob video, you still can practice it at home, using their instruction videos and dance together once all this is over. There are also websites with dance lessons (for-payment) and tons of free instruction videos on YouTube (e.g., for Salsa and Bachata—no partner? Search for ‘salsa shines’ or ‘bachata shines’ or footwork that can be done on your own, or try Bollywood or a belly dance workout [disclaimer: I did not watch these videos]).
- Zumba in the living room?
Ontologically an awful category, but well, they still are good for keeping you occupied:
- Unpack that box you still have from your last move.
- Clean up the attic/messy cupboard.
- Make those time-consuming booze balls, bake the pie and spend an inordinate amount of time decorating it, make that elaborate dinner.
- Contribute to the multilingual urban dictionary of idioms.
- Do some data analysis and/or write a computer program. For COVID-19, there is a crowdsourced index of sources and another for medical and NLP, and more.
- Sort out your holiday photos.
- Marble racing in the garden, dominos (e.g., one with 6000 pieces), design and build a Rube Goldberg Machine (here are a few instructions to get started).
If you have more low-cost ideas that require little resources: please put them in the comments section.
p.s.: I did a good number of the activities listed above, but not all—yet.