Something to look forward to

As the virus continues to sweep across our nation, and lock down becomes more real for each of us, the days can seem to drag. Nothing seems fun and exciting anymore. There’s no where to go. No one you can visit. It’s time to bring the “FUN” back into your life. You need something to look forward to each day. Did you know there are people right now committing suicide due to the panic and fear of getting the virus. This is sad. It never needs to come to that.

Put that brain of yours to good use and come up with simple things you can do at home to make this time bearable and even fun. So read on my friends to find out what my family is doing to look forward to each day with excitement and wonder.

Is depression and hopelessness starting to creep in a bit?

There’s been several times in my life – especially the teenage years – where bouts of depression would creep in. My brain would start to drift off to the land of “there’s nothing to look forward to in life” & even “what do I have to live for”. The sad part- before I learned all about coaching- is that I’d let my brain runaway to no man’s land. Sometimes I’d go in a closet and just cry. I felt so isolated. So completely alone in this world. If I’m not careful, my brain will try to go back to that super highway of “there’s nothing to live for”.

The first thing to do is become aware that your brain is doing this. It’s drifting. We gotta real it back in. This isn’t you. This isn’t who you are at all. Could it be a chemical imbalance in your body? Maybe. This is where diet and exercise can really help to change the imbalance if there is one, so lay off the junk food, get sleep, drink more water, and for sure exercise if this is happening to you.

Once you become aware that your brain is drifting, immediately re-direct it to something else. Head outside for a run, go water the flowers, clean something up around the house, start a sewing project, or just sit still and decide “today I’m going to feel some depression and hopelessness & that’s okay”. If you decide the latter, sit and breathe through it. Feel it in your body and allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel. Then when you’re ready, move on with a task. You need something to look forward to.

Start with themed meal nights

You might be losing track of the days now. It’s time to shake things up with some fun meal themed nights. I get my inspiration from “The Food Nanny” cookbook. Get it on amazon. You’ll love it. Commit to eating all your meals together as a family at a certain time. Have a big menu board up in the kitchen so family members can see the themes and meals you’ll be making. It might look something like this: Monday=Comfort Food, Tuesday=Italian Night, Wednesday=Fish and Meatless, Thursday=Mexican Night, Friday=Pizza Night, Saturday=Grill Night, Sunday=Family Traditions (pot roast). If nothing else is going on in the home that’s exciting, at least your meals will be. On Saturday night “Grill Night”, you could make a fire in the backyard and do tin-foil dinners & s’mores. Or break out the dutch oven and do some dutch oven potatoes and cobbler. How fun would that be!

Assign little helpers a night to cook in the kitchen with you, if only to grate cheese or stir something in a pot. When you are teaching a skill to a child, your brain is going to work & so is your child’s as they learn. It’s a win win to combat depression and hopelessness. You can find all the recipes you could possibly want in these categories on the internet such as pinterest or google. Even if you have zero kids in the house right now, how fun would it be for yourself to plan themed meal nights? Do it for you. It’s something a extra special that you can look forward to each night. Follow one or two nights up with a luxurious bubble bath. Now we’re talking!

Create themed days

Are you homeschooling right now? Why not create fun themed days for the kids. It provides more routine, structure and variety to your learning days. Years ago I purchased a summer camp kit from “Power of Mom’s” website. I keep a summer binder of activities we do each day to make our days together more fun. Here’s what it looks like:

Monday=Make-it Monday – This is the day we build something, sculpt something, create something. It might be a fort, making slime or play dough, a science project like a volcano with vinegar and baking soda, sketch something, or even watch YouTube videos about things being built like bridges, homes, buildings, etc.. This would even be a good day to make a treat together. You could share it with your neighbors for a little extra service. Make an instrument and play it. I personally like to take this day to bust out my guitar and ukelele and just play and sing. Now is the time to get better at our musical talents or to develop one.

Tuesday=Take-a-Trip Tuesday – Before the lockdown situation, we’d go to parks, children’s museums, zoo, aquarium, art museums, science museums, restaurants, bike rides, visit a historic home, explore a nature preserve or botanical garden, go hiking or to a river, planetariums, geo cacheing, etc.. There were just so many places we could go. Now that we’re in lockdown, we are limited aren’t we. Maybe you can still go hike a trail or take a bike ride. At the least, can you take a drive somewhere? Anywhere. Just get out and see some new scenery. And if not, go on a virtual field trip! There are so many places you can see online. Go to YouTube and look up virtual field trips. You can go to aquariums and landmarks that are famous, all from the comfort of your home.

Call up local farms and see if they’re still open. Many farmers are just hoping that they’ll get a few more customers. You’ll boost immunity being on a farm. Hold a chicken, get your hands dirty. If you want to help your microbiome, spend some time on a local farm. You’ll help you and the farmer out. Farmers in your community are desperate for your sale to keep their farms going.

Wednesday=Wet Wednesday – This is the day we’d go to swimming pools, visit splash pads, go wading in streams and rivers. Now since we can’t do any of those things, let the kids run through sprinklers. Bust out the slip n’ slide. Have a water balloon or water gun war. Paint with water on the sidewalk and watch the painting disappear through evaporation. Use a paint brush and cup of water. Learn about where rain comes from, where the water from the faucets come from, where the water goes when it goes down the drain (just type your question into YouTube or google, and the answer will come up). My kids like to play on the trampoline with the hose almost on a daily basis. Since it’s warm enough right now in Arizona, we can totally do this. Some of you will have to wait until it’s actually summer, or if your child is into it, let them get in the tub in their swimsuits with toys. They’ll think this is fun.

Thursday=Thinking Thursday– On this day, we brainstorm things we are curious about (how things work – machines, human body , How things are made – where they come from etc, Why certain things happen – natural disasters, wars, weather, seasons etc, How people live and what it’s like in other countries/cultures. We research these things on Thursdays. It’s really fun. Have you ever watched the show “How it’s made”. Those are great episodes you can find on YouTube for a Thursday activity.

Friday=Friend Friday – My kids would come up with a list of friends they really wanted to have a playdate with. Then we’d plan the day and time and meet up or have them over at our house for “pokémon card trading”. Since we’re on lock down, my kids have been having playdates via “Zoom Conference”. It’s so fun for them to see each other and have an entire hour to show each other their toys and talk about funny stuff. If you have a group of boys into pokémon card trading, host a zoom call with them trading the cards virtually. They can set those cards aside for when they see their friend again to give it to them, or do a quick drop off with some cookies. How fun! Think of a fun friend club your daughters could get involved with. When I was a kid, I was once invited to a cabbage patch birthday party. We all brought our dolls to celebrate. You could do this online. My daughter is into hatchimals, so we could throw a virtual hatchimal party together. You just have to get creative in times like this.

If you can have a poster board or white board up in your home where the kids can see it front and center, they get excited about each day, this is awesome, do it!

Have something fun planned each evening after supper

Get a schedule going of something fun you can all look forward to doing together in the evening each night. Pick a different game or card game to play together. Let each child choose which game they’d like and assign them a night to organize it. Have more movie nights with popcorn together. Make treats every now and then together. For me, I needed something to do with hubby in the evening when kids go to bed. Something we could look forward to together. We’re watching old movies again and if we find a good Netflix series, we’ll start it up. Some of our favorites have been ‘Chuck’, ‘Downton abby’, ‘Friday Night Lights’, ‘Alias’, ‘Drop Dead Diva’, ‘Parenthood’ to name a few. Mostly PG-PG13 rated, so if you have a good one you can recommend without racey scenes or language, let me know.

So that’s what we’ve committed to doing as a family. A fun movie and pizza night on the weekends, and games on the weeknights. Connecting with my spouse in the evenings around 8pm, then we’re in bed by 9 or 10 at the latest.

Another thing I am doing is having my kids go through art projects they want to make during the week, making a list of supplies, and getting those supplies ordered or bought ahead of time, so come Monday, we can start our craft projects for the week. It doesn’t have to be expensive things. I just happen to need basics like mason jars, glue, glitter, and construction paper. But knowing which crafts or art projects your kids are interested in beforehand, allows you to be ready with supplies at the beginning of each week.

Love your space

One thing that has really helped me to wrap my head about being home more, is truly finding the joy in my own space. I spent the weekend cleaning out cluttered drawers, bookshelves, and cubbies. I can’t tell you how much paper I threw away from coupons to magazines to old documents I didn’t need anymore. It just felt so good to de-clutter. I could breathe easier looking around my home and seeing the beauty in a clean, neatly decorated space. I still have other places I need to hit, but I got a good start. Commit to cleaning something each week until your house looks and feels amazing. Once you get to that point, then evaluate if you want to re-decorate something or freshen up a space in your home.

Designate areas for art projects and your home office if you’ll be working alongside the homeschooling gig. Designate area’s for eating – my kids try to get away with eating in front of the tv on the couch all the time. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn’t. Lately, they’ve gotten sloppy and crumbs are everywhere. Back to the table they go. For good this time. Eating in front of the t.v can quickly become a bad habit can’t it. We start to equate watching tv with having a treat or snack. As if we just can’t watch a show while not eating something. This is why I feel it’s important to designate eating times and areas, so we can establish healthier habits around food. When your house has order, your brain gets lighter. When your brain gets lighter, you tend to enjoy life more no matter what kind of chaos is going on around you. But save room for flexibility and fun. Don’t try to control every situation.

Start a good book

This is the time to pick up a good book or book series and get reading. I have audible and plan on starting “The Count of Monte Cristo” soon. I still haven’t read the book, but I love the movie. Go to “Good Reads” app for ideas of books your friends are recommending. Start an online book club via Zoom Conference so you can all read, discuss, and have some adult time. I was a part of an online book club before the outbreak, and it was a lot of fun. We all took a turn picking the book and being the hostess. We kept the group small (less than 8). Great books we read were “The Long Walk”, “The forgotten garden” (my personal fav), “Educated”, “Eric Lidell – something greater than gold”, “Girl wash your face”, and “Friendships don’t just happen”. All excellent books.

Other books I read this year recommended by friends are: “The universe has your back”, “The screwtape letters”, “the big leap”, “The Alchemist”, “Atomic habits”, “The child whisperer”, “More than enough”, “Where the crawdad’s sing”, “The glass castle”. My husband just read “1984” by George Orwell, and highly recommends it. So if you have a MUST READ book, please post in the comments for me.

Reading can really help transport you to another world and take your mind off the virus.

Whatever your situation is right now, weather you’re married and have a family, or you’re single living alone, you need something to look forward to. Don’t isolate yourself from the world, even in lock down. It’s time to think outside the box and learn to THRIVE in your new environment. I know you can do this.

Your next step is to come get coached. If you’re seeping into depression or have anxious thoughts, I’m offering 1/2 price coronavirus coaching calls. You can schedule your call HERE.

What are doing to stay sane during lock down? How are you making it more fun? Post in the comments below. I’d love to hear all about it.

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