It’s now looking like for many of us Covid 19 is not going to be going away anytime soon. We’re in Victoria, Australia, and while we’re a long way from the so-call hotspots of Melbourne, it seems like our whole state is being treated as a danger-zone by the rest of the country.
While we still have more freedoms than we’ve had over the past few months, you see how quickly that can end with cities around the world having lockdowns reinforced.
A key to maintaining strong mental health is to find happiness by meeting our needs within whatever new normal we find ourself. Some of us are restricted by where we go and how we interact with others, but for many people there is also a new, temporary financial normal, as job losses mount and the job market shrink.
Prior to Covid-19 the world was in expansion, now it is in contraction and if we are to maintain a healthy mindset and a happy family we need to make more of the small things. We need to do the simple things better and have more appreciation of them.
Beside each idea I have put the needs that the activity most likely meets after each one. If you are still unsure about what your own specific needs profile looks like you can download a quiz from the side bar. These are just some ideas. The big idea is that we all get more creative with our free time so that we can meet our needs and be Covid safe at the same time.
Creating Rhythm and Ritual
Pre-Covid going to work so many days per week could be a pain in the butt but it gave life a basic framework that many people have lost working from home or after losing a job. Creating a new rhythm to work within the changes that life has thrust upon us can help to keep us balanced and happy. Rhythms to the day, like stopping to do a crossword with your partner while you eat lunch together, going for a walk in the late afternoon with the family before dinner, Saturday morning bacon and eggs, or pancakes if you’re on a budget, are just some of the ways to keep life normal and keep our mental health in a good place. When things are really difficult these kinds of practices also give our mind a break from worries.
- Without so many pressures on our time but with more pressures on our mind it’s a good time to pull out the self-help books we’ve got sitting on the shelves collecting dust.
- If you’ve been in an industry that is not going to recover anytime soon, I’m sure you’ve been looking around to see what else you could be doing. Maybe this is the time you take out that dream you put on the back burner and see if it might have new possibilities in the current global climate.
- Build a website around something that excites you. You can do that for free right here.
- Take a course in something that will make your life better. Due to demand we have our online course “How to Deal Effectively with Stress and Anxiety” on 50% special.
Needs Met: Fun, survival, power, freedom, love and belonging
Gardening is a very satisfying endeavour that can cost very little and be super satisfying.
- You can even get the kids involved by assigning them a space outside to make a garden of their own? Succulents work really well to start with because they are almost indestructible and you can easily divide pieces off other people’s plants (with their permission of course). Add rocks, shells, driftwood and ornaments. The collecting of the “treasure “for the garden is half the fun and remember that it is a children’s garden so try not to be precious about it.
- Vege gardens can work well for children as long as you choose satisfying plants and remember to plant them at the right time of year and where they have a chance of succeeding. Dark corners with boggy soil will not grow vegetables well and children will be disappointed and lose interest.
- If you don’t want to give over any real space in the garden make a container garden with your child. Young children love fairy/goblin and treasure gardens that they can play with.
- A family vegetable garden can be a wonderful asset when you need to stay at home and money is tight. Concentrate on vegetables that are easy to grow in your area, expensive to buy and that you actually like to eat. I especially like to grow pick and grow vegetables where don’t have to pick the whole plant, just cut a few leaves or stalks, e.g. rhubarb, spinach, Swiss chard (silverbeet), lettuces herbs etc.
Needs Met: Fun, survival, power, love and belonging, freedom
Day Trips to Cool Places that aren’t Full of Other People
- Walk, bike or boat somewhere in your area or a little way away that you don’t normally visit. We often take for granted the great thing places we have in our own backyard. Up the specialness factor with a picnic lunch or snack and take plenty of pictures to share with family when you get back.
- In the old days before shopping malls were open 7-days a week people used to go for “Sunday drives” to interesting places nearby. There was always a treat to be had en-route and singing in the car.
Needs Met: Fun, love and belonging, freedom
Make Watching a Movie at Home Special
Creating low cost, Covid friendly experiences is as much about doing old things better as it is about doing new things. Everyone watches movies at home but it’s how you do it that’s important.
- Friday night Movie (or TV Sports), homemade pizza and Beer (can be alcohol-free). So many people have a pizza stone in the back of the cupboard that they have never used. If you’re watching your pennies, now might be the perfect time to get into homemade pizzas. I love our Friday night Webber pizza and would never go back to buying them.
- Movies and cocktails. I’m not trying to push alcohol but how many people have bottles of alcohol they never drink tucked away in a cupboard somewhere? Do a bit of research and you can probably mix them into some passably drinkable cocktails.
Needs Met: Fun, love and belonging.
Revamping a room
Sanding, stripping wallpaper and painting are not fun activities for most people, but there is a lot you can do to revamp a child’s room without doing the hard stuff. The good news is that a relatively small investment in money can reinvigorate a child’s interest in their room so that they will be happy to spend more time in there (for a while at least).
- Spend some time with your child looking through Pintrest for inspiration.
- Re-think the space creating areas for favourite trending activities.
- Beg steal and borrow furniture and accessories that will work in the space.
- Visit Kmart and other big department stores that have low cost furniture and accessories you can use sparingly to make an impact like fairy lights, mosquito nets, special cushions, fake plants, a blackboard etc.
- Decals can transform a plain room, add interest and make it more inviting for children.
Needs Met: Fun, power, love and belonging.
Slime, Clay and Ice Sculptures
Sensory play is incredibly satisfying and calming for children and it can also work well for stressed-out adults. It can be done outside if mess is a problem or on a hard floor with a “messy mat” if you need to be inside.
- Slime (without borax)
- You can buy clay quite inexpensively from pottery suppliers and it’s a great activity if you want to get the kids outside. Cut up some kitchen sponges, give them some water in a dish and everything else they need to decorate their masterpieces can be collected from the garden, parks, rivers or the beach.
- It’s cold in Australia at the moment but for a lot of the world it’s hot. Children love playing with ice on hot days. They can make ice sculptures by melting lumps of ice you can freeze in containers in your freezer, using spray or squeezy bottles with coloured salty water. You can also freeze flowers, leaves, treasure etc in the ice so that they are gradually revealed as the ice melts.
Needs Met: Fun, power.
Old-Time Movie Night
- Do-It-themselves ice-cream sundaes for the kids. Drag out those tall sundae glasses that you never use or just find some pretty/interesting dishes that the kids can use to create sundae masterpieces. Give them toppings etc in small dishes so that the sugar hit is controllable.
- Depending on the age of your children there are probably movies that you loved as a child, or even years ago as an adult and that they haven’t seen yet. My grand daughter was only three when she was introduced to Annie (the original one) and she has watched it so many times since then. One of my all-time favourite movies that would be great to watch with for adolescents is About a Boy, with Hugh Grant, Toni Collette and Nicholas Hoult, who is now all grown up and plays Peter 111 of Russia, in The Great. There’s the original Mary Poppins and what about Oliver? You could even get topical and bring out some movies that would help explain the Black Lives Matter movement.
Needs Met: Fun, love and belonging.
These ideas aren’t rocket science but they are creative ways to enjoy simple things in life that are accessible to most of us at whatever stage of Covid-19 restriction we may be in, and most of them are accessible whatever state our finances are in. 2020 may not be the year anyone had planned but it’s the year we got and we can either fight it or accept it and make the best of it for ourselves, our family and our friends.
If you have any simply awesome ideas for enjoying life in lockdown, or semi-lockdown please share in the comments 👍