Staying at home together is a wonderful opportunity to exercise your creativity and bond with your family. Many of us lead heavily-scheduled lives, so when down time increases, we may need to get creative before we empty the Netflix queue (or cut our own hair!). Read on for 15 of our favorite ideas for activities to do by yourself or with your family.
1. Pick up Old Hobbies
Many of us think wistfully of moments when we had the time to pursue favorite hobbies like painting with watercolor or playing guitar. Have you ever said, “If only I had more time, I would…”? If so, this is the moment to return to those favorite, life-giving activities again! Set aside a dedicated block of time so you can be sure to make it happen. This is also the perfect time to make your hobby communal by introducing it to your children or partner and enjoying it together.
2. Read Aloud
Reading is sometimes considered a lost art because it takes more time and attention than we typically have, but it’s a wonderful way to take an adventure without leaving your house! Reread your favorite stories or ask friends for recommendations. If you’re reading a story aloud as a family, try reading a mystery so that you can discuss hypotheses about “who did it” or “how it happened” together.
Perhaps the fastest way to boost endorphins and get the whole family laughing together is to stay active. If your normal routine is weightlifting at the gym, try to replicate it at home and teach your family how to do it with dumbbells if you have them or soup-can weights if you don’t. If you typically attend pilates or dance classes, look up workout videos on YouTube and invite the whole family to join the fun. If your children are involved in sports, like soccer, try setting up a mini sports field outside. Give everyone a turn to choose an activity and be the expert.
4. Play with Your Pets
Another activity that’s guaranteed to make everyone smile is playing with pets, whether that’s chasing your dog around the dining room table or engaging your cat with a toy on a string. (Try fun games like the “vanishing owner” trick!)
5. Plant a Garden
Few activities are more rewarding than gardening, simply because the patience and care of planting a seed and monitoring sunlight, soil temperatures, and water content are rewarded with tangible growth and beauty. A simple way to start is planting an herb garden in pots around the house. (Bonus: fresh rosemary, basil, and oregano will contribute phenomenal flavor to your favorite dishes!)
6. Set up a Scavenger Hunt
Half the fun of scavenger hunts is creating them! Divide the family into two teams and take turns setting up clues that will lead the hunters throughout the whole house. At the end, you can hide a simple reward like a favorite snack or a reminder of a fun memory (e.g. an old family photo or a much-loved childhood stuffed animal).
7. Go Camping
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors. Get your camping supplies out and set your tent up in the backyard. As the weather warms, you can sleep outdoors and even cook a camping meal outside like hot dogs and marshmallows over a propane camping stove. (Remember to stay safe!) Make the experience even more fun by planning carefully and setting up rules that no one can use mobile devices or other conveniences that would be absent on a true camping trip.
8. Learn a New Skill
What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to learn to do but haven’t had time to pursue? Now’s your opportunity! Check out drawing and music tutorials on YouTube or learn a new language on DuoLingo. If everyone picks the same language, you can try speaking to each other in it, or if everyone picks their own language, you can have fun comparing words!
9. Make Mealtimes Special
It’s easy to slip into snacking throughout the day when you’re at home, but try making mealtimes special by letting everyone in the family take turns picking what they’d like for dinner and then working together as a family to create the meal and set the table. Younger children can help by coloring name tags for everyone, and older children can learn new cooking skills!
10. Tackle Long-Term Projects at Home
Like cooking, involving children in home maintenance projects is a great opportunity for them to learn new skills you typically don’t have time to teach, whether that’s changing the oil in the car, weather stripping the doors, painting rooms, refinishing furniture, cleaning the grill, etc. What seems like a tedious “to-do” item can be a fun time of exploration when you involve the family and have time to complete it instead of being stressed about working to a deadline.
If you don’t know how to go about a certain home fix, try calling a friend who’s an expert in the field so they can help you troubleshoot the problem - collaborating on projects is a great way to deepen friendships and check in on one another’s lives.
11. Revisit Old Board Games
How long has it been since you played Trouble, Life, Battleship, Guess Who?, or charades? These games can be a fun trip down memory lane for adults and a nice alternative to movies and video games for kids. Puzzles are another great way to spend quality time together while creating space for conversation about what’s happening at work or school.
12. Group Drawings
Group drawings are a hilarious way to create art together. Set everyone up with their own piece of paper and pencils. Instruct everyone to draw a face, an animal, or a landscape, then turn on a favorite soundtrack. Every time the song changes, rotate drawings to the left. Most likely what you intend for your drawing when you begin is not what you’ll get when it makes its way back to you - but that’s the fun of family art!
13. Make a Family Lip Sync Video
Lip sync videos are always fun to create and look back on. Choose a favorite song, and assign everyone a part - lead singer, guitarist, drummer, etc. Take time to create props and dress the part, then practice and film yourselves “performing.” Send the video to close friends and issue a challenge for them to send a lip sync video back!
14. Get Outside
Whether you’re taking a walk or bike ride in the neighborhood or simply sitting outside sipping iced tea in your own yard, getting outside is incredibly important to your wellbeing. If you want an extra activity while you’re outside, you can take sidewalk chalk with you and write kind messages for neighbors to see as they walk or drive by.
15. Check in with Friends and Acquaintances
Staying at home is the perfect time to check in with extended family, friends, and acquaintances. You can even turn this into a type of game by getting everyone to place a call, ask “interview” questions, and write a short “newspaper report” about the person’s life. When you’re finished, compile all the “articles” and read them aloud as a family.