If you’re like me, your kids just got an unexpected extension to their Spring Break. Schools in our county announced Friday that they won’t be back in session until April 6 at the earliest. To further add to the impending case of cabin fever in stately Thornton manor, my wife works in the school system and will also be home while my schedule at my primary job as a corporate pilot has suddenly become a lot less busy over the next few weeks.
Thousands of schools across the country are closing due to the virus outbreak and hundreds of thousands of kids will be staying home for the next few weeks. While some of these children will have to go to daycare or stay with friends or relatives, many parents will be working from home or furloughed from their jobs for the duration of the emergency. Since the nature of this school break is one that discourages travel or many other typical extracurricular pastimes, many parents will be wondering what to do with all of the unexpected quality time with their kids.
If you’re home alone with your family for the next few weeks, here are a few suggestions on how to spend your time.
10. Virus Movie Marathon The most obvious quarantine pastime that I thought of was to host a virus movie marathon. When I think of virus movies, the first two that come to mind are the screen adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand” (1994), featuring a star-studded cast, and “Outbreak,” a 1995 vehicle for Dustin Hoffman, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Renee Russo. All six hours of “The Stand” is available on YouTube and “Outbreak” is on numerous streaming services. “Twelve Monkeys” is another neglected classic sci-fi movie from 1995 featuring Bruce Willis as a convict from the future sent back in time to gather information about a pandemic. Willis is aided by a mental patient played by Brad Pitt.
More recently, there was “World War Z,” also starring Brad Pitt, in 2013 about a worldwide outbreak of a zombie virus. I’ve also heard good things about 2011’s “Contagion,” which stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslett, and Jude Law.
9. Help The Kids With Their Homework Just because your kids won’t be going to school doesn’t mean that they won’t have schoolwork. My school district is sending out packets of homework to keep students busy while they are on the virus vacation. My high school son has already been assigned seven essays and 15 daily geometry problems. With a lot of work and not going to class, kids are going to need help with their assignments.
If you don’t remember much about geometry and other school subjects, there’s always Khan Academy.
8. Catch Up On Chores If your house is like ours, you have a to-do list that you need to catch up on. Whether it’s doing laundry or fixing that annoying drip on the bathroom faucet, there are odd jobs around your home that need doing.
Don’t just do it yourself. Put your kids to work. Let them help fold clothes. Show them how to fix things around the house so that they’ll know when they move out on their own.
7. Order Some Takeout A lot of restaurants will be hurting over the next few weeks as people stay home more than usual. Even if you don’t want to eat in a public place, you can order some takeout or delivery to break up the monotony of eating at home. You’ll also help to support local businesses through a slow time. Many delivery services are creating no-contact options for the duration of the emergency.
6. Read A Book A long break at home might give you a good opportunity to catch up on that book that you’ve been wanting to read. If you want to stick with the virus theme, I recommend “The Great Influenza,” which tells the story of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20. While I enjoy reading histories, my guilty pleasure is Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” series.
5. Listen To A Podcast If reading isn’t your thing or if you want to try something different, check out a podcast. There are a plethora of political and current events podcasts, including one by our intrepid leader Erick Erickson. Beyond that, historian Bill Whittle has a very entertaining podcast about the Apollo space program and a new one about the history of the Cold War. Whatever your interests, you can find a podcast.
4. Play An Offline Game Sometimes enforced time together without technology is a blessing. During power outages that sometimes came with floods and hurricanes while we lived in Texas, we often played board and card games as a family. Some favorites are Clue and Uno, but there are many possible choices that include both classic games like Monopoly and new ones like What Do You Meme (for fans of The Resurgent’s memes on our Facebook page).
3. Go Outside If you aren’t sick and haven’t been exposed to the Coronavirus, you don’t have to stay under quarantine. You can go out. Some places, such as museums, might either be closed or put you in closer proximity to the public than you prefer, but many parks and picnic areas will be accessible. With much of the country warming as spring approaches, you can take your family out for a picnic lunch. Picnicking should be safe because the open areas allow you to maintain a safe social distance from other people who have had the same idea.
You could also go walking or hiking. Parks often have hiking trails but even walking along your street will get you out of the house and into nature. I often walk with our dogs, Rocky, the min pin mix (we think), and Ginger, the one-eyed Shiba Inu. They aren’t as famous as Jonah Goldberg’s pooches, but they are still pretty cool and they love to go for walks. Often, I’ll take a bag to pick up trash along the road to help keep our neighborhood clean.
2. Help A Neighbor As the virus runs its course, people are going to need help. Maybe you’ll know someone who gets sick or has to be quarantined. Sick people will need to be cared for and there may not be hospital beds available. We may reach a point where volunteers are needed to augment health professionals in caring for the sick. The CDC has published guidelines for people who need to care for someone sick with COVID-19.
You can also help by providing food or making runs to the store for elderly neighbors who don’t want to risk going out in public. Some working parents may need neighbors to care for children who are out of school.
Maybe people who are isolated just need someone to talk to. One of my aunts is in an assisted living home that is already under lockdown. The residents are not allowed visitors and cannot even leave their rooms for the foreseeable future. People who are under quarantine can still take phone calls and talk to people on the internet. You could help them pass the time by playing games with them on social media.
1 Pray We are facing a dangerous situation and prayer is appropriate, both for affected individuals and the country in general. Prayer works and maybe God will use this crisis as an opportunity to bring America and the world closer to him and to strengthen our faith.
By most accounts, we are about to enter a very trying time as we face the possibility of a large number of deaths. We need to recommit ourselves to God and prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Whether we die from COVID-19 this year or of old age decades from now, we will eventually meet our maker. We need to be ready.
Originally published on The Resurgent