There are more things to do at home to keep busy and avoid boredom than you can imagine.
Writing from the comfort of my lockdown haven in Italy, I have been trying to remain optimistic and to continue, as much as possible, with my daily routine. A routine that has inevitably changed in many aspects – no more training at the pool for me; no more running close to the beach; no more glasses of wine and dinners with friends; and sure enough no more traveling until this emergency passes.
Before you ask yourself if it is ok to travel at this time in history, go ahead and read my post “Please Stop Traveling. At Least For A While.”
This lockdown is relieving, in a way. No more uncertainties on what we can or cannot do: the government decided for us. The entire country is forced to do the same thing – staying inside for safety. We all have to do our bit for the sake of common good – something humans aren’t naturally good at. And this is bringing out the best in us. We are rediscovering a sense of patriotism, a sense of community which seemed to be long lost.
Yet, I must admit that for any hyperactive person like me, being forced indoors can be boring. I have always thought that there aren’t many fun things to do at home. In fact, things that I have always taken for granted (like the freedom to go out as I please) have been taken away from me, from all of us here in Italy, since the outbreak of this disease. We are quickly realizing how important social life is to maintain our sanity.
Make sure to read my post “What You Need To Know About The Current Situation In Italy.”
It’s now day 9 into my lockdown, and like most I am trying to keep myself busy to avoid boredom and to make this experience a constructive one even on a personal and professional level. Boredom is just one end of the lockdown spectrum. Others are feeling anxiety (in this case, you may want to read a post on how to deal with anxiety during a world crisis).
As more and more countries are moving towards a lockdown, I thought you may want to learn from me – in lockdown more for already a full week – what you can do to keep yourself entertained. I truly hope this helps you as much as it’s been helping me.
Continue reading to discover the coolest things to do at home when you are forced not to go out.
19 Things To Do At Home That Are Fun And Productive
Work from home
Working is actually one of the most productive things to do at home.
In an effort to contain the outbreak of the virus, the government of Italy has invited all companies to implement measures to allow anybody who can easily do so to work from home. Most companies are obliging. Others aren’t so quick at reacting – my sister for example works as a fraud analyst at a bank group and apparently they don’t have enough laptops for all the employees, so she has to go to work, with all the risks this implies.
I know – working from home is easier said than done in some cases (like in my sister’s case). I am self employed (this blog is my one and only livelihood) and I am in the group of those that can easily work from home even during a lockdown. In fact, unless I am traveling somewhere to gather material for this blog, I normally work from my office in my apartment in Cagliari.
If you can easily work from home, now it’s the time to do test it. It takes a while getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you will see that it’s actually not so bad and there definitely are some positive sides to it.
Work on that long postponed project
We all have a side project we have been meaning to work on but never found the time for. It may be for money and work related. But it honestly doesn’t have to be. The whole point is that now it’s the time to work on it – it’s one of the things to do at home when you really aren’t allowed to leave the house.
Personally, I am taking advantage of this time at home and the extra time I have on my hands to work on a niche blog I have wanted to launch forever and never found the time for.
I appreciate that we are all different and not all of us want an online business. But really, there are just about a million things you can do from the comfort of your home. I am just going to throw in a couple of ideas below.
Learn a language
Speaking a language other than your own helps enormously when traveling. Locals love it when you can exchange a few words with them in their language – and that’s pretty much in every country around the world. Are you dreaming of a trip to Italy and worry that you won’t be able to read the menu in Italian? Then learn the language! It’s one of the easiest things to do at home.
Learning a new language is a great way to keep busy when you are forced to stay at home – and always, to be honest. You can enroll in an online class to begin with. I am particularly good at learning languages (probably the only talent I have) so here are some other tips I have for you to practice and improve your language skills:
- Watching movies or tv series in the original language – I generally recommend putting subtitles, also in the original language, as it helps you make out the pronunciation of difficult words.
- Listening to podcasts in the original language – there are many you can look for. I am a fan of Radio Ambulante, in Spanish.
- Listening to music with the lyrics.
Check out my post “20 Useful Tips For Learning A New Language.”
Learn a new skill
This one can be anything, really! I am lame at photo editing, so I am trying to make use of the extra time I have to watch tutorials that teach me how to turn a good photo into an eye catching one. Other useful skills for bloggers like me include Pinterest management – which during normal times is a great way of driving traffic to a blog; and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There are tons of courses that teach both!
Another great idea for things to do at home may be a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) course, so that you can get qualified to teach English abroad and use your skills as soon as you can travel again. Many do this to support themselves as they travel around the world.
Other skills you may want to work on include writing – it can be anything from travel writing to fiction and again, you can find a wealth of courses you can follow from your sofa. Do you enjoy painting? Perhaps you can finally catch up on those tutorials to improve your touch. And the same goes for do it yourself things and even embroidery or knitting. The web is a wonderful resource for this. All it takes is a quick Google or Youtube and voilà, you can set yourself on track!
Also, don’t forget that activities such as knitting, embroidery, painting and DIY are excellent to overcome anxiety – a common issue when you are forced indoors.
Dream about travel
One of the nicest things to do at home when you can’t leave the house and travel is to simply daydream about traveling. Even when I am terribly stressed, the thought of the many beautiful places I may be visiting makes me relax and it sends me all sorts of positive vibes. And it costs nothing.
Below are a few tips to help you dream.
Focus on a destination
There are way too many destinations you can dream of. This blog is meant to give you inspiration and information on the many places you can visit. But here is a short list of my favorite places to fill your dreams is:
- New York – because it’s one of the most incredible cities in the world.
- Rome – no matter what, it remains majestic.
- Paris – romance, Eiffel Tower and all the charm.
- Sardinia – because it is the most beautiful island in the world.
- Patagonia – its immense landscapes will keep you dreaming endlessly.
- South Africa – because we all want to see lions, rhinos, penguins and whales.
- The Maldives – especially now that they are also opening to budget travel (read more here).
Watch a movie or read a book that will inspire you to travel
One of the coolest things to do at home is reading and watching movies. They can be travel related too! The choice of movies you can watch and books you can read to feed your travel dreams is immense. Below you can find a selection of my favorite ones:
- The Motorcycle Diaries – this movie is inspired by Ernesto Guevara book and it’s what prompted me to travel to South America. It’s as dreamy as it gets.
- Wild – a great book, and a great pick me up.
- Shantaram – if this book doesn’t inspire you to visit India, I don’t know what will.
Virtually visit a museum or an attraction
One of the best things to do at home when you can’t travel is to do a virtual tour of a museum or attraction. A bunch of museums around the world are now offering virtual tours you can take from the comfort of your home. Among them there are Musee d’Orsay in Paris, Guggenheim Museum in New York, Uffizi Gallery in Florence. You can read the full list here. And click on this link for a wealth of guided virtual tours of cities such as Rome, Venice, Paris and New York (among many others).
The following are the best guided virtual tours in Italy:
Fair enough, now it is not really a good time to travel. Yet nothing stops you from planning a trip. I know – you really don’t want to make any flight or hotel reservations when you don’t even know when traveling will be allowed again. But you can still plan a good itinerary (hint: I have itineraries for many places on this blog!) where you factor in the places you want to visit, the amount of time you want to spend in each place, the budget. It’s a useful exercise, and one of the most fun things to do at home.
Here are some helpful resources to help you plan:
- Get Your Guide – this is my go to third party site to book guided tours and attractions. You can buy skip the line tickets for the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower; a guided tour of Cape Point Peninsula; a food tour of Bangkok or a cooking class in Hanoi. What’s great about it is that you can book months in advance (some attractions only allow you to book up to 30 or 60 days in advance, but you may want to move ahead with your planning); it uses local companies to run the tours; and if things go wrong and you need to cancel your trip you can cancel and get a refund without any hassle. Skip the line tickets usually cost just the same amount as on the official attraction website, or a couple of extra euro – worth spending for the ease of mind of free cancellation.
- Booking.com – the most reliable site to book hotels, villas, hostels and apartments. Make sure to fully read the cancellation policy as it varies depending on the hotel you want to book. I always recommend to book something a bit more expensive for the sake of having a fully flexible cancellation policy.
- 23 Useful Tips For Long Haul Flights – this post explains you how to better prepare for a long flight, from the moment you book it to the time on board.
- A Complete List Of Travel Essentials For Women – girls’ ultimate list of what they must take with them on a trip.
- The Best Long Distance Hiking Packing List – in case you are planning an adventure trip.
- Why You Always Need Travel Insurance – this post tells you why you really want to invest on a good insurance for your trips. Now more than ever.
- The complete guide to becoming a more responsible traveler – because there is no other way to travel in 2020.
Make sure to read my post “Virtual Traveling: 13 Ways To Travel Without Traveling.”
Check out my post “A Completely Honest GetYourGuide Review.”
Catch up on your readings
Now it’s the time to read all the books that you have accumulated on your shelf, coffee or bed side table. It’s a great way to relax and disconnect for a bit. And one of the most relaxing things to do at home.
TOP TIP: If you have a garden, drag a reclining chair there, wear sunblock and a hat, and take a drink with you. It’s not the beach, but close enough. Don’t have a garden? A balcony is good too, or a bay window, or a window. As long as you get a good dose of daylight and – with it – your much needed dose of Vitamin D.
Need inspiration? Make sure to read my post “27 Great Books For Travelers.”
Spend time with loved ones
Being forced indoors often means getting on each others’ nerves – it’s inevitable. But please, for as much as it can be done, try to turn this into something positive. If you live with your parents or your partner, talk to them about your worries and your hopes. And listen to them. If you have roommates, now is the time to get to know them better.
And your pets
Cats, dogs and pets in general have always proved excellent company to humans, and now more than ever. Being forced at home, you will have more time to pet your cat – my Minnie is certainly loving the increased attention she’s been receiving. If you have a dog, make sure to play with him / her: they will love the extra time spent with you. If you have been trying to train your dog, this may be a good time to try new tricks.
GOOD TO KNOW: Even during a lockdown, you will be allowed to take your dog out for a walk. We are allowed to do so in Italy and I would imagine it will be the same for most countries.
Get connected with friends online
The worst thing about being forced to stay at home is the complete lack of social life. Well guys, it’s tough but it’s just how things are at the moment and we have to live with it till it passes. Now it’s the time to get creative in the way you see your friends.
My friends and I are using Skype for virtual drinks (but you can also use Zoom, Facetime and other apps). We agree on a meeting time, get a glass of our favorite drink, start a call and chat.
You don’t even have to use internet to connect with friends. One of the most fun things to do at home that some of my family are experimenting is balcony drinks. For example, my cousin and her husband now have regular sunset drinks with their neighbors – each from the comfort of their balcony.
The whole point here is to be creative!
Sing a song for solidarity
One way we are coping with the stress of being forced to stay at home in Italy is all sorts of flashmob. Each day, at a given time, we all go to our balconies, our gardens, and sing together. At times we play our national anthem; other times just some popular songs. Yesterday at lunch time we all just applauded the efforts of our doctors and nurses. Last night we all lit our torches. Each time it brings tears to my eyes – I am reminded of how beautiful a country I was born in, a country of artists, of genius, of loving and lovely people.
There are tens of videos of people singing from the balcony. Some are plain funny; others are just touching. A Girl In Florence wrapped up the best in this post.
Home schooling isn’t much of a thing in Italy as it is in other countries like the United States, but I guess one of the things to do at home is homeschooling, during which parents take a more pro-active approach in their kids’ education. With schools and university closed, students of all ages are now forced to use distance learning, with lessons being aired online for pretty much all levels of education. Perhaps this will set a new trend in education in the years to come.
Get creative with the kids
With children being forced at home, it’s important to keep them busy with games as well as tasks. One of the things to do at home that Italian kids have all participated in is a project that saw them drawing or painting a rainbow, accompanied by the text “andrà tutto bene” (it will all go well). Many balconies are now exhibiting the paintings. I will keep you posted on Italian kids’ next project and you may try and replicate it at home!
Cooking is one of the most obvious things to do at home. But you can take it to a whole new level. When you have to stay indoors and can’t go to your local restaurants for a meal, you may as well try to cook your favorite meals. Lame chefs of the world, now it’s our time (yes, mine too: shame on me for I am Italian) to put our cooking skills to a test!
You may even want to take a cooking class. There are many courses available on the web. Some even do live streaming, and you get your Italian nonna sharing her secret recipes.
Is your garden turning into a jungle? Use the extra time you have to prune the branches, mow the lawn, clean it up from dead leaves and what not. More like turning into a desert? Why not plant new bulbs? It’s pretty much spring time so this is the time to do it, anyways.
Clean that house!
Hey guess what? It’s spring time. It’s time to spring clean your house. It’s one of the things to do at home and now more than ever we are being reminded of the importance of cleanliness and hygiene – whether it is personal or at home. So, get to work and start cleaning. These are some tasks for you:
- Take down all curtains and wash them – those things accumulate massive levels of dust.
- Vacuum clean and sanitize your carpets and rugs – again, you want to get rid of dust and mites that cause allergies.
- Dust all the shelves – especially book shelves.
- Clean inside kitchen cabinets and drawers – food and dirt spreads easily there.
- Sanitize your bathroom and toilet – in fact, you should be doing this at least twice a week as a norm!
This one is very much linked with cleaning the house and one of the easiest things to do at home. As you go through the shelves and closets, you will definitely come across stuff that you haven’t used in years and that you really don’t need. Clothes, home appliances – it really can be anything. What should you do with it? First of all, bag it. Some will suggest that you sell it online or take it to thrift shops so that you can make some cash from it.
But honestly, most of the time it will literally be just pennies. Besides, at such as sad moment in history, when many people will be left with no jobs, you may as well want to make a donation to a local charity.
Exercise from home
For many of us, one of the hardest aspects of being forced to stay at home is the fact that we can’t exercise like we normally would. I usually train at a local pool 3 to 4 times a week and go running close to the beach once or twice a week. With the lockdown, all gyms and pools have closed.
We can go running – as long as we do it by ourselves and we make sure to distance ourselves from others. However, we can’t go to a park (they have all been closed because people ended up gathering there) and sure enough we shouldn’t be driving around to reach a place where we can exercise (I live at the other end of the city compared to the beach where I’d go running).
Other than running close to home (the lockdown means there is no traffic anyways), you may want to get hold of a skipping rope – it’s great exercise.
Among the things to do at home, make sure to exercise by using one of the many great apps and online tutorials that will help you create a routine you can easily follow. Freeletics is a great one. Yoga apps such as Down Dog are free until the end of the month, and so are many others. You can even simply ask your trainer at the gym you usually exercise at to send you a few routines and pay him for that (my swimming trainer does that for me any time I travel and go to a different pool).
Take a nap
One of the nicest things to do at home is sleeping. Let’s admit it. This is something we have always wanted to do and never been able to – because with work, social life, and all things normal, we do feel guilty if we actually choose to nap in the middle of the day. Guess what though? You can now finally take that nap without thinking you should be doing something else instead.
GOOD TO KNOW: Many people are actually having a hard time sleeping at night due to the increased anxiety following the world crisis. There are several natural remedies you can count on to help you sleep and enhance the quality of your sleep. I use melatonin drops and they help me out. Though they are a natural remedy, you may want to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking it.
Catch up on the latest shows
I am leaving this among the last things to do at home because I am not exactly the biggest fan of shows, series and all. I have never even seen an episode of Game of Thrones and I certainly don’t intend to catch up on that now that I am forced indoors. Besides, I believe there are way more constructive ways to spend your time.
However, if you really can’t find better things to do at home, you may as well catch up on your favorite series, or look for new ones. Netflix remains the place to look for good shows. Here are a few series I have been enjoying:
- The Messiah – I know, sounds prophetic. But I guess somehow appropriate. And one of the lead characters is incredibly sexy (if you do decide to watch this show, please comment on this post and tell me who you think is the sexiest character.
- Marcella – the name would probably be more appropriate for a Brazilian telenovela, but this British crime series is guaranteed to have you glued to the screen. I can’t wait for the next season.
- Suburra – one of the best Italian shows of the last few years. It’s inspired by a real-life political scandal.
- Sex Education – honestly one of the best shows on Netflix.
Learn to filter fake news
The amount of fake news circulating online at this time in history is ridiculous. I have never really understood the purpose of it, except scaring the most vulnerable parts of society – those who aren’t internet savvy and can’t easily distinguish what is a piece of valid information from plain junk.
Below are a few examples of fake news that have recently circulated in Italy (and possibly overseas):
- 30000 US soldiers would be on the way to Italy – for what purpose, it remains unclear. A quick google search reveals this is fake news.
- Helicopters and small planes would be flying above our heads to spray and disinfect the entire country – this was easy to spot as even the wording of the message was poor. And a quick search proved this was, indeed, fake news.
So please, if you come across some news that seem absurd, don’t forward it to your friends and family. Take the time to read it a couple of times; copy the text into google and see what happens. More often than not, the first thing that will come up is that it’s fake news.
2 Things Not To Do Even When You Must Remain Home
There is a reason your government tells you to remain home. It’s for safety. It’s for the common good. It’s for the benefit of the entire society. Please listen to the advice of your government, to that of your doctor, to that of the relevant authorities. Don’t go out thinking you will just be fine. It’s not just about you. It’s about all of us.