Parents, this one is for you. And I don’t mean to help you with the kids during this time — that’s been covered already — but to help you take care of you, mentally and physically and practically. As our routines are disrupted and lives turned sideways, we can use some good ideas for figuring it all out. Whether it’s constructive advice for getting work done, fun tips for filling the unanticipated extra time at home, or suggestions for alternatives to our usual activities, this post offers some information and inspiration to not just get through the quarantine, but make the best of it, too.
Working from Home
Working from home may sound wonderful (and it is great in many ways), but when it’s been unexpectedly thrust upon you under unnerving circumstances, that changes things a bit. I thought about offering my own tips, since I’ve been working from home for years, but to save time and because others have already made the suggestions I would have made, here are some good resources for making the quick office-to-home switch.
* This NPR article has great advice for working at home, particularly during this time when kids are home, too.
* USA Today has some good advice on being cybersafe as you telework.
* I shared these tips already, but they are good and concise and worth sharing again.
* How to use Zoom like a pro.
* A little work-at-home humor. 🙂
* This isn’t working from home, but for first responders on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19… Some may need high-quality, safe, and nurturing care for their children. Bright Horizons has partnered with #FirstRespondersFirst to open child care hubs around the country for health care workers, including one on L Street on Downtown DC. If this would meet a need for you or someone you know, visit the website for more information.
* Fatherly has some great tips for working from home right now.
[Note: The tips in some of these next sections might sound indulgent when many of us now have the kids and work at home, but even more reason to take some time for activities that are relaxing, enriching, and fun. Pick one (or more if possible) and fit them in when you can, even if it’s after the kids go to bed or only on weekends. Parents can take turns — one hangs with the kids, while the other has solo time. And if there’s any good reason to be a little more flexible with screen time, perhaps this is it. Putting a show on for the kids so you can have time for yourself or with each other won’t hurt them; in fact, it’ll probably be better for everyone. ]
Exercising is a priority in my daily routine, for both physical fitness and mental wellness. I belong to a gym and do a mix of workouts there, so finding alternatives since I stopped going a week ago has been somewhat of a mission. I have discovered some good workouts on YouTube, gotten suggestions from friends, and heard about more ways to keep fit during this time that might also work for you.
* Les Mills has the best online workouts I have found so far. You can sign up for a free trial through their website, and I also found some workouts on YouTube. I do (and love) the Body Combat at my gym, so was psyched to find it online. It’s martial arts-based and has a big agility component along with cardio and strength, which I dig. Most of the YouTube workouts are only 30 minutes, so you might want to do two.
* I also just discovered Les Mills’ GRIT workouts, which come closest to the boot camp-style HIIT I love at the gym. Again, most are only 30 minutes, so you might want to do two (though one will get you sweating).
* If, like me, you thought Peloton was just a stationary bike with spin class videos, think again. They actually have an app with loads of fitness classes, everything from yoga to strength training to audio running workouts to HIIT. (They just introduced Peloton Family, fitness classes parents and kids can do together.) Even more, you can get a 90-day free trial right now.
* Whether you’re a yogi or a newbie, yoga may just be a good thing for all of us right now. A friend who does yoga regularly recommended Asana Rebel Yoga. They have all kinds of workouts, so you’re sure to find something that suits what you need.
* Washingtonian just published this round-up of local fitness studios that are streaming workouts online.
* East Side Yoga is doing online classes now — a great way to exercise, de-stress, and support a local business!
* Of course, you can go outside for a bike ride or run, just maintain your six feet from others as you go. To keep it interesting, you can look for different running workouts.
* If you’re into OrangeTheory, take it from the treadmill to the pavement, switching up your pace the same way you do in class, then do some body weight strength training, since you probably don’t have access to weights and other equipment.
* Another class I’ve recently enjoyed is Sensazao, a dance fitness workout that combines Latin and hip hop dancing. There are videos on YouTube, you kind of just have to start following what they do. Warning: If you were offended by the Shakira-JLo Super Bowl halftime show, this is not for you. But I think it’s a booty shaking blast. 💃🏽 [PS: You can get a free 7-day trial, which gives you access to all their online content/classes and tutorials, and use the code SSZGBoss for 10% off a subscription.]
There is a reason why comfort food is even a phrase. Eating good food really can make us feel better, and while the comfort part traditionally refers more to heartier dishes, even light healthy meals can bring calm, too. Even better, cooking any of them can be a great way to get our heads out of an anxious space and into one that makes us (and those who get to eat the results) happier. With more time at home, especially since dining out isn’t an option, it’s an ideal opportunity to get in the kitchen, maybe tackling some of those involved recipes that required more time than you had, trying some new dishes, or even getting into cooking altogether. These links should provide some inspo for that.
* Alison Roman is a cooking goddess — every one of her recipes I’ve made has turned out an amazing dish (if I do say so myself). Many of her recipes are in the New York Times Cooking Section, so they might require a subscription, but try anyway. If you can’t access those, there are plenty you can get through her website.
* Smitten Kitchen is full of fantastic recipes, but the ones that lean heavily on pantry items are good to keep on hand right now.
* Skinnytaste has been one of my go-tos for years with tons of easy, healthy recipes that are great for feeding the family.
* The only print magazine I still have a subscription to is Bon Appetit, which says a lot about it as a resource for cooking ideas. Of course, the website is great, too.
Up Your Skill Set
Nearly 14 years ago, Levi bought me a guitar as a present for my birthday or a holiday after I expressed interested in learning how to play. I’d just stopped working full-time and figured that since I would be home with my infant, I would be able to take up all these new hobbies. Well, that must have been postpartum crazy brain thinking, because there was no time or energy or free hands or focus to learn a new instrument then….and I have this great guitar that’s been sitting in a corner since. Well, guess what I plan on doing now? I recommend this for others, too. You don’t have to learn how to play an instrument, but if there’s a skill or hobby you’ve wanted to add to your set, perhaps now is a perfect time to do it.
* Skillshare has thousands of online classes for creatives, everything from illustration to design to photography, and more.
* If you’re into photography (or want to be), you might find a course to enhance your skills or get started.
* Take some art lessons via online tutorials or live streaming sessions. A quick Google search will give you lots of suggestions for them. And Mo Willems just started a “Lunch Doodle” every weekday at 1pm.
* Learn a new language for free with Duolingo.
* This New York Times article has good advice for starting music lessons from anywhere.
* You’ll need to get some needles and yarn, but you can learn to knit for free. People I know who do it, say it’s very relaxing for them.
Catch Up on Your Reading
Confession: I have a bad habit of taking books from Little Free Libraries then holding on to them for a looong time before I read them. Like, there is a stack collecting dust on my nightstand. So, I’m hoping to start tackling it while we have this extra time at home. For others who love to read, take advantage of this time to delve into some good books, too. A friend just asked on Facebook for all-time favorite books, and I’m sharing what I posted below, along with links to good reading-related resources. (PS: When all of this is over, I promise to put back those LFL books I haven’t yet gotten to and let others have a go at them.)
* Some favorite books I shared on my friend’s Facebook post: Unaccustomed Earth/Jhumpa Lahiri, A Thousand Acres & Duplicate Keys/Jane Smiley, The World According to Garp/John Irving, Three Junes/Julia Glass, A Gentleman in Moscow/Amor Towles, Born A Crime/Trevor Noah.
* If you’re not yet on Good Reads, this is a great time to sign up. It’s kind of a social network for reading and books. You can connect with friends who are also on it and get recs for and keep track of books you want to read (and have already read). You also have access to a catalog of book reviews and reading lists beyond your friends’. Feel free to connect with me!
* As shared in the tips for weekdays at home with kids, you can stock up on books and support local small businesses by shopping online while you’re staying home and/or their brick-and-mortars are closed — some even deliver! Check out Kramerbooks, East City bookshop, Solid State Books, Politics and Prose, and Loyalty Bookstores.
* The New York Times is providing free access to the most important news and useful guidance on the coronavirus outbreak.
* Several authors share their “comfort books.”
I’ve seen lots of “quarantinis” on social media and, generally, more posts than usual about what peops are drinking, which is not surprising. No judgement here at all, but I feel like I should say be careful of overdoing it (both for liability and because you’ll be dealing with a hangover and close quarters with your kids). Here are some imbibing-inspired links…cheers!
* If we can’t really get out to enjoy the cherry blossoms, maybe we can drink one. These cocktail recipes include one named for the iconic blooms, plus many more spring drinks.
* Perfect the classics while you have extended home time.
* This is a good time for delivery. I’ve never received my booze that way, but here is a link to Yelp’s page for liquor delivery in Washington, DC. UPDATE: This new Eater DC article info on local booze delivery and carry-out kits.
* Before you partake in too many, check out this DCist article about the increase in alcohol sales due to coronavirus.
Most of us are hearing the drone of the news that is constantly on our TVs or radios as we keep up on the coronavirus latest. It’s probably a good thing to take a break from it for other kinds of listening. Music can heal the soul and lift the spirits — Italy has shown us that recently. A good podcast is a great escape, too. Follow these links for some listening suggestions.
* Did you hear that Rita Wilson made a Quarantunes playlist on Spotify while she was in isolation with COVID-19?
* Catch live streams of concerts (or recorded versions of them) just for coronavirus
* Some podcast recommendations, and be sure to check the reader comments, too, because there are always more good ones there.
* So, these involve watching along with listening, but NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts are so fantastic.
* This Cheer Up playlist on Spotify really is uplifting.
* With interesting info about our national parks, plus tips for visiting with kids, the Everybody’s National Parks podcast is a good listen and inspiration for a family vacation when all of this is over.
I shared some viewing recommendations in this post a few days ago, but there are always so many more. Really, I could write a whole blog just about shows and movies to watch (hmmm….). Anyway, here are some more TV and film recs, plus some other sources for suggestions.
* Since we can’t go out to catch a flick, Amazon just introduced Prime Video Cinema, access to the latest movies that were just released (or would have been) in theaters.
* Some great not-for-kids series, both recent and not-so-recent: Fleabag, Succession, Lovesick, Catastrophe, Shrill, You, My Brilliant Friend, Six Feet Under (that one’s really not recent, but I kind of want to watch it again).
* Vulture’s list of 33 Best Movies Over 3 Hours Long will help fill up your time.
* Also check out Vulture’s list of the 100 best movies on Netflix right now.
* I suggested introducing these shows from the past to our t(w)eens, but I think maybe we should also rewatch them ourselves: My So Called Life, Felicity, Beverly Hills 90210, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Veronica Mars
* Synetic Theatre is streaming their 2015 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream through April 30.
* Check out Vulture’s 30 Best Comedies on Amazon Prime.
This pandemic is taking its toll in so many ways, on so many levels, and some people and businesses are facing greater challenges than others. If you’re looking for ways to assist from home (or occasional, quick runs out for necessities) here are some things you can do.
* As you’ve likely heard, hospitals are in dire need of Personal Protective Equipment for their staff. If you have any supplies to contribute — masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, gowns — find information on how to donate them to Children’s National Hospital, Virginia Hospital Center and Inova Hospitals, and I can help get them to local hospitals as well.
* Check in with neighbors, friends, and family who are older, have health issues, or have extra challenges right now and see how you can help. Offer to pick up groceries if you’re making a run to the store or just spend some time chatting (via text or phone), as they might feel isolated and lonely.
* Are you on Next Door? It’s a great way to keep in contact with people in your immediate community to share updates, check in, seek help, offer recommendations, etc.
* Support small businesses, like bookstores, (see the reading section above), shops, and restaurants, by ordering items or take out online. Many have curbside pick up or even delivery to make it as convenient and contact-free as possible. DCist has a big list of which are offering take-out (along with those that are closed). And check with any of your favorite places not listed to see if they are open. ADDED: DiningataDistance.com is “keeping you fed while supporting local businesses during COVID-19” by maintaining lists of local businesses still open for delivery and takeout in cities around the world.
* You can also purchase a gift card from businesses that are closed or difficult to patronize right now. I found an amazing spreadsheet through WAMU with a crowdsourced list of local places that allow people to buy gift cards online.
* The Greater DC Diaper Bank continues to do amazing, impactful work. In response to COVID-19, they have created Diaper Need Hubs to ensure all families have what they need during this tough time. Help them keep this important work going by making a donation.
* TheatreWashington has an emergency relief fund to help professionals in the community who are without work right now. (You can also contribute directly to your favorite theatre — just go to the website and look for donation instructions.)
* Brightest Young Things shared a great spreadsheet of local businesses that are shipping, so you can shop and support them from home.
With so many unknowns right now, it’s wise to be pragmatic and proactive about the near future. I’m not suggesting we give up our optimistic outlooks, but it doesn’t hurt to take some simple plan-ahead actions. Here are some tips to help with that.
* The COVID-19 Business Resource Center is available for small business owners who need assistance.
* These grocery shopping “rules” are very sensible — and the link includes some recipes, too.
* It’s been recommended to get prescription medications filled sooner than later and make sure you have any over-the-counter essentials, too.
* Find out how to freeze fruits and vegetables to keep them as long as possible.
* How to make your own hand sanitizer. (Of course, you need to be able to find all the ingredients for it.)
* Are you in need of face masks? Etsy has a good selection of them.
* Start thinking about changing up your home space, like rearranging furniture, organizing, or switching up decor. My friend, Margaret, will do an online virtual consultation with you, if you’ve got a room you’d like to makeover.
* The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is having a Looking Forward Sale.
* The new OurStreets Supplies app, which works kind of like Waze but for stores instead of traffic, will let you know what stores have supplies before you go shop there.
* If you had air travel planned during this time or have a reservation for a flight coming up and now won’t be going, this Conde Nast Traveler article has info on your options.
* A good one to bookmark in case anxieties swell.
I, personally, would love more recommendations for any/all of the above — and I’m sure others would, too. If you have some good ones to share, please do so in the comments!