Screen-free Quarantine Bucket List – Fun Old School Activities (Indoor, Part 1)

I get days when I just don’t want to face a screen. Don’t get me wrong; I’m as addicted dependent as most people are in this day and age, but there are times when I feel very reluctant to pick up a device. It’s a way to connect and be in the loop, after all, and I’m afraid I’ve always had these spells when I just wanted to detach myself from society and, in a way, suspend myself from reality.

Back then, I wouldn’t miss so much to spend a day or two just vegging out in my room, always with several new (meaning I haven’t read them yet – they could have come from a secondhand bookshop or the library) books I could binge read. These days, it would mean missing out on a slew of information, probably all non-essential, but I’m so used to the bombardment of data that I get withdrawals when the deluge is stymied.

I hate that, and I’m frustrated that my kids are growing up in this kind of environment. I’m ready to wrench them away from it and do something drastic like live off the grid (well, mostly off-grid), but my husband isn’t quite there yet. So, in the meantime, there are rules about screen time. There are also those episodes of disconnect that lead to kids staying away from screens as well.

Last year, while the pandemic raged all around the globe, we found ourselves very much limited in our movement. For months, the kids and I didn’t get to leave the house. Mark was our main “tribute,” braving public spaces armed with just his face mask, face shield, and multiple atomizers filled with rubbing alcohol. Eventually, quarantine restrictions were eased, and we finally got to visit my parents, bring Marguerite to the orthodontist for her monthly adjustments, and go for drives (the kids stay in the car, of course).

The hope was that 2021 will be different, but here we are in February and the kids are still stuck indoors. The temptation to resort to screen time for amusement is ever-present and getting harder and harder to resist. Unlike me, who has already had several episodes of screen burnout (They were lovely. I finally got to read X and Y of Sue Grafton’s books. I also reread “Stargirl” and “A Year in Provence.”), the kids see the screen as their main connection to the outside world. More than ever, I wish we lived in the country were they could explore wide open spaces on our own property. We’re blessed to have a garden as it is, but it’s pretty small. We definitely all miss going places- taking long nature walks at our usual haunts, playing at the mall arcade (boohoo, TimeZone, we miss you!), taking the boys to the trampoline park, venturing past the city limits, eating out…

But, you know, these days stuck within the confines of our house and garden feel different, which is a bit curious since we’ve always been pretty much home-based anyway. I suppose it has to do with the lack of choice. And when the supermarkets were running low on or out of supplies (never toilet paper though – not in the Philippines, lol) and we were forced to be resourceful, it also felt like a challenge, a kind of adventure. How far can we make do or make shift?

Under our quarantine protocol, children below 15, which all our kids still are, may not go out to public spaces, and with the virus still at large, we certainly don’t want to flout this edict. In the face of even more months at home, we have to condition our mind to not only accept the situation, but to see it as an opportunity. With all these indoor time forced upon us, how can we make all this time together at home quality and fun without invoking the power of the screen?

As you may or may not know, I’m quite fond of bucket lists. Therefore, I found the time to make a to-do list for my family during the remaining quarantine time. Who knows? It may not be long before quarantine is lifted and you can ditch the list. Hope, as you can see, springs eternal. I have 40 items on this list, all indoor activities. They’re pretty fun, so you might want to hang on to the list even when we can all already go out.

  1. Play Scrabble.
  2. Play Monopoly.
  3. Play Trivial Pursuit.
  4. Play Pictionary.
  5. Play Charades.
  6. Play checkers.
  7. Play Go Fish.
  8. Play Old Maid.
  9. Learn and play poker/bridge.
  10. Play indoor Hide and Seek.
  11. Have an indoor Scavenger Hunt.
  12. Have an indoor Pirate Treasure Hunt with (fake) danger and a mystery/back story.
  13. Build an elaborate fort.
  14. Play dress-up.
  15. Put together an indoor obstacle course.
  16. Read a book aloud to each other.
  17. Cook a dish you’ve always wanted to try/been curious about.
  18. Bake a goodie you’ve always wanted to try/been curious about.
  19. Concoct a signature family drink. 
  20. Watch a movie you loved as a kid with your kids.
  21. Make a homemade version of a favorite treat (e.g. popsicle, ice cream, marshmallows, etc.).
  22. Hold a family tournament of a silly game (e.g. hula hoop, limbo rack, bean bag toss, etc.).
  23. Have a face painting afternoon.
  24. Put up a makeshift photo booth (goes well  with dress-up and face painting).
  25. Learn a practical craft (something that will allow you to produce something you can sell on Etsy).
  26. Handwrite letters to far-off loved ones and mail them.
  27. Publish an old-style family newspaper and mail copies to friends and relatives.
  28. Work together on a home improvement project.
  29. Create your own board game.
  30. Write an adventure story together.
  31. Write a comedy sketch and perform it.
  32. Learn a “partner” dance and have a dance party (e.g. swing, boogie, waltz…).
  33. Work on a giant puzzle together.
  34. Have a Nerf war.
  35. Have a camp-in (tents, campfire food, s’mores, scary stories…).
  36. Have an indoor picnic (picnic basket, blanket, picnic food, playing cards…)
  37. Have a hardcore bubble blowing afternoon (giant, colors, sparkles…). Do it in the bathroom, balcony, or just blow out from the doorway or window.
  38. Have a secret language day (pig latin, ithig, eggy-peggy…).
  39. Start a family band/choir and learn a song to play or sing together.
  40. Make a mural on one wall. Don’t say it. I know. Just think about it. 😀

 

Obviously, some (or a lot of) imagination will come in handy. I hope this will inspire you to make your days cooped up indoors more fun with some screen-free entertainment. Comment any ideas you think can be added to the list.

Screen-free Week: Unplug Your Kids

Screen-free Week is almost halfway over, but if you haven’t been observing it, there’s still plenty of time to practice being screen-free, or at the very least, considerably unplugged. Being a writer in this age, and a blogger, at that, the most I can do without sacrificing work is to significantly lessen my time in front of the screen. Thankfully, my cell phone gave up the ghost a couple of months back and I have yet to find the motivation to replace it. We also don’t have the usual video games and we’re not getting any ever as long as I have anything to say about it. But we do have a tablet; my daughter uses it for watching movies and playing a few educational games, including taking care of that pet poop-like creature Pou… I can tell that I’m about to go off on an angry tangent about technology since I’m part-Amish and part-Greg Kinnear’s character in You’ve Got Mail, so I’m wrenching myself away from that particular train of thought. In any case, I’m definitely not one to talk since, as much as I disapprove, I do find much practical use in these digital devices, including the tablet, which I mostly use for reading those free ebooks I’ve been hoarding in my Cloud reader.

But if you are interested in the idea behind Screen-free Week, here are some helpful resources for suggestions on alternative activities to do, inspiration for being unplugged, etc.

Screen-free Week Online Resources:

The Slacker’s Guide to Screen-Free Week (activity suggestions divided into Morning, Afternoon, and Evening)

Get Ready for Screen-Free Week: 30 Great Activities and Printables (screen-time statistics, tips for enjoying Screen-free Week better, activity suggestions divided into Fun with Reading, Active Fun, Outdoor Fun, Arts and Crafts, In the Kitchen, Family Time, and Dinner Time Printables)

National Screen-Free Week: A Survival Guide (11 suggestions, plus a link to a Snow Day Survival Guide, which might also apply)

75 Activities for Screen-Free Week (a family’s set of rules for observing Screen-free Week, a downloadable/printable list of suggested activities)

Family Goes Screen-Free, Stays Screen-Free (a mother’s account of how observing Screen-free Week led to generally screen-free kids)

Screen-Free Week: 2012 Recap (I love this post – please take the time to read it. We focus too much on the kids going screen-free that we fail to notice if we’re applying the same principle to ourselves.)

Take the Screen-Free Challenge (lays down research-based premise for diminishing screen-time)

 

How about some ebooks?

Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places: 200+ Activities for Young Children Using Common Household Objects

Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun.

Beginning Montessori With Infants and Tots Birth to 24 Months

 

Or traditional books?

Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the next generation

The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

 

Sometime during Screen-free Week, we’ll be working on many of the items on our summer 2013 bucket list, one of which is to make lots of fairy houses. Marguerite rediscovered this old favorite going through my other blog. We also have many arts and crafts projects lined up for this week, as well as some activities Marguerite saw on Pinterest (we browse through boards together) and wants to do. Cameron is sure to be a cheerful participant in all these.

fairyhouse

What about you? Are you going to observe Screen-free Week? Do you have your own ideas for making the experience extra special? Please share.

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