10 Things I’m Finally Doing While Stuck at Home

Right now, the world is at a standstill. Shops and restaurants closed. Schools operating virtually or not at all. Only essential employees deemed necessary to head into work. From China to Italy, the United States to Australia – we’re all stuck at home wondering and waiting for what comes next.

On my end of this global pandemic? Our family of five has been isolated to the fifth-floor apartment we call home in Barcelona. And while the days have been filled with preparing meals, homeschooling three kids, and cleaning (SO much cleaning!), I find myself more motivated than usual to take on some new things.

Why? Maybe it has something to do with the three cups of coffee I’m chugging before 10 AM these days. Or, perhaps I’ve come to the realization that we may be stuck at home for a lot longer. And I’m not about to waste this time on complaining or getting fat (although at this point I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have at least a few episodes of both!)

There are things we ALL put off for a “rainy day” – a later time. We tell ourselves we’ll get to it someday. Well, friends, someday is here! Never in life will we have as many uninterrupted unscheduled hours in the day as we do now.

Whether we like it or not!

So, while I’m not telling you to launch a new business or convert religions, I am encouraging you to try something new. Take on something you’ve always wanted to. Or tackle a half-finished project.

Believe me, I have every excuse to do the bare minimum each day in quarantine. Three kids at home with 4-5 hours of schoolwork daily, plus virtual extracurricular activities (yes, it’s possible to do cheerleading online apparently!) and no outdoor space for any of us to release energy.

Keeping up with the blog (since travel/expat bloggers have taken a real hit during this time) and even finding the time to put on some makeup has proven to be a challenge these days.

But still, it’s so important that while we’re at home taking care of everyone else, we find even a few minutes a day to do something for ourselves. Before this lockdown thing starts hurting our mental and physical health.

10 Things I’m Finally Doing While Stuck at Home

1. Empty Out Cabinets/Drawers

If there’s one thing the Coronavirus hasn’t been able to put a stop to, it’s Spring. This means now is as good a time as any to do annual Spring cleaning – starting with organizing your kitchen, bedroom closet, playroom (that alone takes days in our house!).

Not only will your house be neat and organized, but you’ll feel more refreshed and accomplished. I personally started with the Tupperware cabinet in our kitchen – man, do I hate it there!

2. Make a Phone Call

In a world where texting has become the new norm and no one memorizes phone numbers anymore, it seems obsolete to call a friend. Except, that’s exactly what Tony and I have been doing.

We’ve chatted with family thousands of miles away, old friends back in New Jersey and even our Catalan neighbors that live one floor below us.

Wow, how I’ve missed a good live phone call! Give it a try.

3. Organizing Vacation Photos

I always have big ambitions for what to do with our vacation photos. I’ve even written a blog post about some unique ways to capture family travels! But sometimes, life takes over and we get busy. The photos stay on our phone or Instagram feed and we end up doing nothing with them.

If you’re not into traditional photo albums, try setting up a Google Photos account that will at least organize your images by date, location and even faces. This is a good place to start and may motivate you to take this a step further. See step 8 below…

4. Begin a New Workout Program

One thing I really REALLY miss right now is going to the gym. I never thought I would say that but since all three kids started attending school this year, the gym has been part of my morning routine.

So being stuck at home with no outdoor space or garden, it’s forced me to get really creative with chairs, free weights, stairs, and the hallway! I’m not going to pretend I’m a fitness expert and start recommending exercises to do at home. There’s plenty of YouTube tutorials that can get you started.

The point is, plan to do something new! Start pilates, yoga or climb the stairs as I do. Staying active while cooped up at home is important for your body AND mind, as I’m starting to realize!

5. Read a New Book

While this might not be the most original idea on the list, how many of us actually take advantage of free time by picking up a new book? I’m guilty of reaching for my phone to scroll social media instead!

Recently, our nanny who left Barcelona to head back to Columbia gifted me with one of her favorite novels. And I intend on starting it while stuck at home. It’s been years, I’ll admit since I’ve read a really good book. And I used to LOVE reading.

I guess somewhere in between changing diapers, washing bottles and catching up on sleep I lost the interest. Shame on me! And shame on you if you’re in the same boat. Let’s jump into a great book together.

6. Cook/Bake a New Recipe

I hope if my mom reads this, she doesn’t cringe. But personally, I don’t love to cook. Baking I can have a little more fun with, fine. But basically I’m a bowl of cereal kind of gal, ya know?

Being home locked in with my family, however, means cooking isn’t a choice. Getting by on cereal and milk every day ain’t going to cut it!

So instead, I’ve ventured to my International Foods board on Pinterest for some recipes to try out like Feta Greek Salad, Pulled Pork Puff Pastry and Cashew Chicken.

You don’t have to go crazy – this isn’t Top Chef! But keep it fun and inventive.

7. Start Taking Online Language Lessons

After living abroad in Spain for almost three years, our Spanish has gotten quite good! Not fluent yet, but it certainly has opened our minds to the possibilities of learning a new language.

I think now that I’ll be stuck inside for another 15 days, I’ll take a stab at Italian!

How cool would it be to emerge from this quarantine thing and know the basics of another language? Haha!

There are loads of free apps you can download to get started such as Babble. As you progress into learning, there is usually a small fee. But it’s worth it if you keep up with the lessons and integrate them into your daily routine. Ciao bella!

8. Create Online Photo Albums

After organizing your photos on Google Photos, why not take it a step further and create a beautiful album through Shutterfly or Snapfish?

Are there events or milestones you would love to commemorate in the form of a special album but just haven’t had the time? How about a baby album for your little one…who is now a toddler? Or dare I say…an album from your honeymoon five years ago?

I absolutely love creating these after a family vacation – but they take time! So I don’t always get around to finishing them. Until now!

9. Update Baby Books

While we’re on the subject of turning special memories into keepsakes, what about baby books? Our first child’s is complete. Our second’s is half complete. And our third’s baby book? Well, it still has the plastic wrap over it – yikes, the guilt!

I’ve made it my mission to crack them open and put more work into them. A lot has happened since my last entries – teeth lost, places visited, Two-wheelers conquered, Kindergarten graduations. Things I know I’ll one day forget the details of.

Time to document them now before it’s too late.

10. Start a Personal Diary

We may not realize it, but what’s happening in the world right now is making history. Your children will talk about their 30-day hiatus from school years from now. You’ll chat with friends someday about a life where literally everything was virtual.

You’ll laugh and wonder how you ever survived!

This is the global pandemic that has captivated our society.

So why not start documenting the ups and downs of this time in a personal diary? Writing can be a very therapeutic exercise and help provide mental clarity in times of stress. And if nothing else, it will offer loads of laughs years from now when you read the entries to yourself.

However, you plan to spend your days during this unbelievable time, try to make them fulfilling and enjoyable.

And by the way, if all you have the time, energy and motivation for us a shower each day, I feel you. And I can relate! This list isn’t meant to make you feel worse, guys.

Just the opposite actually! I hope this list gives you some creative outlets for yourself when you are simply at a point where you need new/fresh/creative/exciting juices in your life!

9 Comments

  • Pandora

    As a fellow Barcelona-based American expat (and trying-to-be blogger), it’s nice to hear from others in the same situation. It’s a bit weird being an expat during all this, but on the plus side, we have the chance to be extra productive! I’ve been reading a lot, working on my Catalan (so I can finally communicate with my boyfriend’s mom) and doing lots of workout videos, too.

    But I agree, some days all you can handle is a shower, and that’s just fine.

    Hope you and your family stay safe during this craziness!

    • Lauren Covino-Smith

      Woww it’s so nice to meet a fellow American expat AND blogger in Barcelona! I agree it’s such a strange feeling going through this whole lockdown thing while being thousands of miles away from family and “home”. But it’s also taught me some incredible things about the culture here! So glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Kate Kasia

    I Love it! You’ve got some great ideas. I am juggling my time between homeschooling my 3 kids, working from home, cooking and cleaning, so I decided to do something I never had time for – I started online drawing course. 🙂

  • Alexis

    Great ideas! We spent our last two weekends spring cleaning – typically that would take us practically until fall, but we didn’t have any excuses/interruptions so we were able to knock it out. I love your list – I’ll be checking on any updates needed for baby books & looking into Spanish online lessons for the family today. Thanks!

  • Oli

    I work for NGOs, so I’ve lived in some crazy situations but I’m finding Corona the toughest challenge to my lifestyle yet. I’ve found borders closing really tough

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