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.

Quarantine Nature Scavenger Hunt

Do you miss immersing yourself in the natural world? Now more than ever, I wish my family lived in our own homestead. This quarantine wouldn’t be as oppressive if there was a bigger space in which to move around. At least we do have some outdoor space and a garden to which we can venture out (sans mask) for some fresh air and greenery.

We like going out though, especially to drive down to the river or up to the mountains so the kids can get their nature fix. Another usual outdoor recreation haunt for us that we greatly miss is the UP Diliman (my alma mater) campus, which seems to have acquired squirrels in the absence of the typical university bustle! Also, there are said to be sheep grazing on the grounds or hanging out at the jeepney stands! All these, of course, just make the hankering to see the place that much stronger.

I have to say that I’m the worst kind of introvert, but even I’m feeling penned up. I miss our church. I miss our homeschool co-op. I miss bumping into friends and acquaintances as I’m out and about. I miss eating out (how my heart breaks over all those long-running dining establishments that have been forced to permanently close their doors, or those that just opened and never even got the chance, or just all the businesses out there that have suffered and continue to suffer because of the pandemic). I also miss buying stuff from brick-and-mortar stores and not having to worry about exorbitant shipping fees. I’m most definitely craving our family road trips.

But I disgust myself when I get this whiny, so I compensate by finding ways to make the situation work.

Like I said, I crave nature and doing nature-oriented activities, but even in our concrete (or cinder block and plaster) cocoons, we can still encounter bits of the natural world (all very “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”). As that cool Dr. Malcolm says, “Life finds a way.” If we bother to take our eyes away from the screens, we can find living nature, other than the humans, at home. If we take the time to register their presence and appreciate their existence, we’ll feel a connection with the fresh and living world out there and our minds are healthier for it.

We can consciously look out for these things in our confinement, and what better way to do that than with a Scavenger Hunt. This is always fun. At least, for me, it is.

I know we have different home situations, so I’m going to make a list each for those who are really pretty much limited to finding the items listed inside their homes, without even a window with a good view to look out of; for those who don’t have exterior space, but do have a nice view from a window; and for those who have a yard. I hope at least one of these can help you pass the time and the activity can help tide you over until you can venture out again.

 

It’s okay to include items in the fridge or pantry.

 

Repeat items ought to be different kinds, e.g. Bird 1 (sparrow), Bird 2 (pigeon), Bird 3 (crow).

 

Feel free to add interesting items you spotted to the list. 🙂

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