July 23, 2020

Life sure doesn’t look the way it usually does at this point in the year. After some reflection, and a little bit of mourning, I decided to make the most of a unique opportunity with chances to recreate the benefits of our travel with at-home versions as well as embracing new hobbies or activities that we couldn’t do otherwise. Once I started brainstorming, I had more ideas than summer in which to do them. Maybe some of them will set your imagination dreaming!

Get Body Wise

On our pre-quarantine trip to New York, we trekked from the Upper West Side, down Broadway, to the Financial District and back again by the time we left.

When we were originally locked down, we struggled with the change in exercise routines. Without soccer, hiking trails, and the gym, movement felt less convenient and more repetitive. We took walks down the street until we had each square foot memorized. It certainly wasn’t New York!

Eventually, we all felt the difference mentally and physically. It was a great unintentional lesson in how our bodies really do need movement to feel good.

That realization led to more willingness to get active and creativity in how to do it. One kid even asked for a step counter! That got us to start setting goals on miles walked. I even decided to expand the idea and start developing healthy habits during this time when we have fewer distractions and will actually feel the difference.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Eat at least 3 fruits and 2 vegetables every day.
  • Each week try one new produce. We have a farm box delivered that gives us plenty of opportunities to try new fruits and veggies.
  • Find out how far it is to walk all of Broadway in NYC, or around your hometown, or to Europe, or somewhere else that captures your imagination. Then plot out how to walk that far in a day/week/month.
  • Pick up a new ability like pull-ups, yoga, marathon running, or basketball free throws. You have every day to perfect it!

Find Your Inner Chef

My family remembers the North End in Boston with incredible fondness. Definitely because of the historically significant stops on the Freedom Trail but also because of the amazing hole in the wall authentic pasta place we found.

Sadly, this summer won’t really be full of new restaurants. On the other hand, maybe they can become the hole in the wall eatery at home. Cooking is one of those tasks that most of us would like to be good at but avoid because it can extend into hours. We’re in luck. We now have hours! On top of being a handy skill, cooking involves planning, organization, and cleaning which are all fabulous life skills. Here are a few approaches you can take to a culinary adventure:

  • Choose a cooking show you all enjoy and cook along with the host.
  • Travel the world through your taste buds and try new recipes from every continent.
  • Arrange a family swap where two families try recipes during the week and then make their favorite to swap with each other.
  • Incorporate your health goals and experiment with ways to prepare new fruits and veggies.

Make It a Project

So many people talk about using this time for finally cleaning out their closet or reorganizing the furniture or patching up all the nail holes. All of that sounds great. And productive. But I can’t really imagine my kids brimming with enthusiasm over what are essentially bigger chores.

At Adventure Playground in the Bay Area, the kids had access to tools and scrap materials to add onto the playground or create a masterpiece to take home. During quarantine, I wanted to give my kids the sensation of being somewhere and doing something totally different. My son decided to decorate a tree in front of our house with a bunch of birdhouses that he designed, built, and decorated himself.  So we broke out the toolboxes, gathered scrap wood, and set him loose! Some other ways to give them a project are:

  • Buy or recycle the biggest canvas you can find and ask your family to design and paint a new art piece for your living room. They will need to consider what will complement what’s already there, then actually make it.
  • Foster rescue animals that need care and attention as well as food, water, and walks. They add a whole level of cuteness while teaching a lot of responsibility.
  • Offer a big change in their bedrooms like a loft bed or new bed that will inspire them to look at the space in a whole new way. Plus, it gives them a new view even though its an old area.

Whether your family is accustomed to being home all summer or is struggling like mine, I hope these will spark an idea for fun in your lives. With luck, we will look back at this time, separate from the usual, fondly.