As we head into what I think is week nine of lockdown in the UK (seriously, is anyone counting any more?) it feels a little like all our genius ideas of what to do with ourselves as we bumble around our homes are starting to wear a bit thin. We’ve done the puzzle thing to death, we’re well and truly done with home schooling (I will never ever diss a teacher again!), and even the Zoom quizzes are losing their initial appeal.
But seeing as how none of us have any idea how much longer we’ll be in lockdown, I figured it would be good to share some fresh ideas to hopefully inspire you with ways to fill your time.
1. Flick Through Your Favourite Magazines
I don’t know about you lot, but one of the things I miss most about normal life is being able to pop to the shops and buy a magazine whenever I fancy. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a bit of a magazine addict. Whether it’s trashy gossip mags, home and garden mags, lifestyle and self improvement mags, or food mags I absolutely love a magazine. But the thing is, when you’re self isolating or even when you’re doing the #stayathome and #stayalert thing by only popping out when absolutely necessary, a magazine ain’t exactly an ‘essential’ item.
And sure yeah I could read a book, books are blinking brilliant, but sometimes you just need something quick, that you can read a snippet of and not worry about getting to grips with detailed plot lines. Because let’s face it, what with working from home, home schooling, sorting out how and where we’re going to get our food from, and the general anxiety and stress consuming our already overloaded brains, the option of reading the odd article here and there is very appealing right now.
So to find out about the digital magazine subscription service Readly, which offers unlimited digital reading of up to 5000 magazines (who even knew there were 5000 magazines!!), has seriously made my day, my week, my year. This is exactly what I need to get my magazine fix. It’s an easy to use app that you literally just sign up to on the website and then download onto your device. They currently have a 1 month free trial and then after that it is just £7.99 per month afterwards, which I think is an absolute bargain considering most magazines these days you’d struggle to get much change from a fiver. On top of access to a wide range of titles, you can also share your subscription with up to 5 family members by setting up different profiles. And we all know that if the kids are entertained, that’s at least 10 minutes peace and quiet for you – RESULT!
2. Dip Dye Your Hair
With hairdressers and barbers currently closed none of us are having particularly good hair days at the mo and we’ve all had to get super creative with our locks. Whether that involves braving the shave, sitting tight and going all out caveman, or wandering round the house with a permanent state of bedhead, our barnets have definitely seen better days. But all these Zoom meetings and TikTok dances mean we need to get ourselves in a relatively decent state (well from the waist up at least!). So what can you do that’ll give you Insta ready hair while at the same time provide you with a bit of entertainment in the process?
You can dip dye your hair with tissue paper that’s what!
Yuh huh, you heard me….. tissue paper. It’s trending everywhere and it’s super easy. Simply choose your favourite colour of tissue or crepe paper (you can get this easily enough on Amazon) making sure to check that it doesn’t say stain or run free on the label otherwise the dye won’t come out of it. Rip the paper into small strips and place in a bowl. Cover with 300ml of boiling water and a teaspoon of standard table salt, then stir and leave to stew for about 5 minutes. Pour through a sieve to remove the paper. Tie your hair into two loose bunches and then dip the end of one of the bunches into the dye and leave for about 5 minutes. Remove, squeeze out the excess liquid and clip up into a bun. Repeat on the other side. You can pop a shower cap on once you’ve done both sides so as to avoid staining anything else, as you need to now leave it for half an hour. After half an hour, rinse out with cold (not hot!) water and there you have it – dip dyed hair!
3. Get Your Bake On
Your lockdown experience wouldn’t be complete unless you’ve used up your manky old bananas and turned them into banana bread. This simple to make cake has basically gone viral, and if you haven’t already shared your masterpiece on Instagram then there’s seriously something wrong with you – come on get to it!
But if banana bread doesn’t do it for you, then there are plenty of other things you could have a go at making… so long as you can get your hands on the ingredients (has anyone managed to get any flour yet!?!?).
How about having a family Bake Off? Or what about getting the kids to set up a restaurant where they get to design and set the menu, dress up as waiters, and serve you food and drink all evening (hey, it totally works for me!). You could have themed dinner nights – burgers and hotdogs for an American diner inspired evening, fondue for an alpine adventure, or how about a curry and Bollywood extravaganza.
Or for the ultimate frugal challenge why not have a go at seeing who can come up with the best meal based on the meagre set of ingredients you can scavenge together from the back of your kitchen cupboards. You never know, you may end up creating something worthy of Masterchef, but worse case scenario you’ll have had lots of fun trying… just make sure you check all them best before dates first 😉
4. Enjoy The Silence
None of us are used to spending this much time with our family and if truth be told we’re probably starting to get on each others nerves. I know for a fact that the little things are doing my head in way more than they usually would, but that’s mainly because I’m used to having my own space in the daytime and so suddenly it feels as though I no longer have that freedom, I no longer have the space to think, I no longer have any me time. And that’s important.
As someone who already works from home, I’m used to silence, I positively thrive on it. But these days it’s a struggle to find the silence, what with kids being ever present and the husband constantly popping in and out to get cups of coffee. The house is positively buzzing with noise. Some people love that, some people need that. Not me. I enjoy the silence. Thank goodness for noise cancelling headphones.
But what if you’re social distancing on your own? What if all you ever have is silence? Surely the need for noise is greater than ever. We can’t change what is happening and so I say embrace that silence and use this time to master mindfulness and meditation so that you can emerge from this situation the chilled out stress free person you’ve always wanted to be. We’re forever being told to be more mindful, now is your moment to shine.
5. Bored Of Board Games?
Monopoly, Scrabble, Pictionary… the list goes on and on. As a family we own a lot of board games, but when you’ve played them a million trillion times the novelty starts to wear off. So what do you do when you’re bored of the board games? Well, you design your own that’s what. Now, I can’t take any credit for this idea as it was totally from my ten year old daughter, who took it upon herself to invent, design, and produce her own board game. Let me introduce you to Switchy Traderoo!
The concept comes from a game she plays on her favourite video game Roblox and basically involves trading different animals based on their status (common, uncommon, rare, ultra rare, legendary) and their capability (fly, neon, ride). She’s also devised a whole points system, so that when you’ve finished trading you add up your points and the winner is the person with the most points. That’s art, English, maths, design tech and biology all covered – boom we are smashing the curriculum!
Not only did this take her forever to make – cutting out each card to the same size, drawing each animal, marking the back of each card with her logo, and designing the game board – it has also provided us with hours of entertainment and she has even managed to figure out a version she can play on her own, which is fantastic for those times when I need to work. And yes, the eagle eyed among you may well have spotted that she’s used an empty Ferrero Rocher container as a game box, but come on…. eating chocolates is totally a form of lockdown entertainment too!
6. Take Up Crochet
I’ve been able to knit since my mum taught me when I was little. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert, I certainly wouldn’t be able to knit you a chunky knit cardie any time soon, but I can hold my own in the knit one purl one stakes and I do make a mean scarf! I’ve tried teaching my daughter, but she hasn’t managed to get to grips with it yet (to be fair I think I need to get her some smaller needles and I need to be way more patient than I’m being) and so I thought lockdown would be the perfect time to try something new. Inspired by a friend, who sent me a gorgeous handmade crocheted rainbow for me to hang in my window and encouraged by the fact that crochet is apparently easier than knitting I figured this would be perfect. Cue me ordering two crochet hooks and a selection of brightly coloured yarn and doing a bit of research to find a beginners guide to crochet on YouTube.
I’m still incredibly impatient (god knows how we’re getting through home schooling, because I do not make a good teacher that’s for sure!) and despite crochet producing results a lot quicker than knitting it is a bit fiddly to begin with, so there were tears. But we’ve managed the basic stitch, which means we could just about mass produce a load of friendship bracelets.
I read somewhere recently about ‘Amigurumi’ – the Japanese art of crocheting small creatures or characters – which is probably, OK definitely, out of my league at the moment but I am seriously loving the idea of crocheting some cute little sloths or llamas and heck I’ve got all the time in the world at the moment. Surely by the end of lockdown I’ll be the crochet queen, right?
7. Photo Treasure Hunt
What Joe Wicks has done in terms of keeping the kids (and let’s face it most of the adults too) active every weekday morning is quite frankly amazing. The man deserves a medal… or maybe even a knighthood if you’re reading this Your Royal Highness 😉 But is anyone else feeling as though the novelty is starting to wear off? I’m all for being active with my kids, but when the moans start to out weigh the laughter it’s time to mix things up a bit.
In order to avoid as many people as possible when we go out, I like to walk the dog really early in the morning. Both my kids are early risers too, but it can be a battle to get them to leave the house, despite them being the ones that wanted a dog in the first place! So my husband came up with the idea of a photo treasure hunt, which in my opinion is genius. The idea is simple – one adult and one child go out for a walk to take pictures en route, while the other two stay at home (obviously change the numbers to suit your own family). The photos need to be of places that are familiar to everyone, but to make it harder you can take them from unusual angles. Once you’ve taken about ten or so pics head home and it’s then up to the other two to guess what the photos are of. It’s great because it helps the child on the walk forget about the fact they’re out on a walk meaning way less moans, and it also mentally challenges the child doing the quiz by helping them have more of an understanding of the place they live. It’s basically a win win.
We’ve done this twice now, swapping the kids around so that they both get a chance to take the photos and to guess, and it has worked an absolute treat. Plus they’re still none the wiser that the whole point of this is to get them off their lazy backsides and drag them away from their screens for an hour. A massive parenting win if ever there was one!
8. Dress Up Or Down
Come on admit it, you’re mostly living in PJs and activewear these days right? I mean, when you’re not going out there’s not exactly a need to dress to impress. Slobbing about in your comfies is all well and good, but it can start to make you feel a bit down about yourself after a while. Which is one of the reasons we’ve started doing what we like to call Wazzock Wednesday each week where we dress in whatever clothes we want in a bid to spread some joy and fun and get us through the mid week slump. It could be fancy dress (we own an unusually large selection of fancy dress outfits and accessories so 9 times out of 10 it’s something like that), or it could be your most gorgeous going out out dress (hey, when else are you gonna wear it!?!), or it could even be your wedding dress if you’ve got it stashed away gathering dust in the loft. The most important thing is to wear something that either a) makes you feel good or b) makes you laugh. We’ve set ourselves the challenge of coming up with an outfit that fits in with a different colour theme, with the aim of getting through the colours of the rainbow. Last week was orange, so obvs. we had to go all out Tiger King-esque…. because well, all the cools cats and kittens are doing it aren’t they 😉
If you fancy having a go at dressing up for Wazzock Wednesday it would be great to see your creations. We share ours every Wednesday morning on our Instagram and Facebook pages using the #WazzockWednesday and we’d love for you to join in to.
None of this is easy. It’s testing even the very easygoing and patient among us. But we will get through this if we work together and make things as fun and enjoyable as we possibly can. Because yes 2020 isn’t exactly the year we had planned, but let’s not wish the time away, let’s work with what we’ve got and make it a year where we discover what really matters in life.