Entertainment During Disasters

Sheltering in place or having to evacuate during a disaster can be stressful.

If you’re stuck at home for too long, you’ll quickly start missing the lifestyle that was once your normal routine. Being in lockdown with the same people (aka your family) is great for the first three days, but after that, it’s common to get on each other’s nerves for just about anything. Cohabiting takes on a whole new meaning when you’re never separated from one another.

Evacuation is similar in that it’s very stressful and not your typical week-long vacation to a Caribbean island. Being forced to flee your comfort zone is not just hard but also worrisome. 

In any case, both of those scenarios present a change that the entire family has to adapt to, even if temporarily. Given our limited options to “do what we want,” we should seek out our creativity to explore which options we still have.

Having fun is not optional— it’s necessary. Doing something that makes you take your mind off of your circumstances and laugh, relax, and breathe calmly makes the coping process much easier.

Whether you’re on a budget or not, there are plenty of activities to do to bond and connect with your loved ones, especially when there’s seemingly nothing else to do.

Fun activities for the family

  • Have a movie marathon. There are so many ways to stream movies now-a-days that your viewing options are practically endless. Pick a cool series or movie genre, pop some popcorn, and hit the play button!

  • Play cards and board games. Games are one of the best ways to enjoy family time. Bring out a deck of cards, or play UNO, Phase 10, or whatever else is popular these days.

  • Read a book. There are so many benefits to reading, that I probably should have made this the number one option on the list. Stimulate your mental juices and vocabulary with a good book! Need some motivation to stick to a reading schedule? Why not join a book club!?

  • 21 Questions. Play the game of 21 questions to keep the kids entertained and distracted when you’re in the car, especially if you’re traveling long-distance.

  • Play sports or do outdoor activities. If your circumstances allow you to spend time outdoors, you should take advantage of it. Breathing in fresh air, getting vitamin D from the sun, and listening to the birds sing is refreshing. Go hiking, biking, enjoy a picnic at the park, or play frisbee.

  • Get creative with the clouds. Inspire some creativity in your children and lay down in your lawn on a partly cloudy day. Make shapes out of clouds and see what cool creations you come up with.

  • Do a scavenger hunt. Plant clues and riddles around the house that your kids will have to solve and figure out. You can do mini prizes along the way or do one large prize at the end.

  • Go Geocaching. Don’t want to do a scavenger hunt indoors? How about outdoors, then? The Geocaching app uses GPS and other navigational techniques to help users find treasures hidden by other users. Apart from fun, it’s a great learning opportunity.

  • Do art projects. Crafts are a lot of fun for any age group. They’re also an amazing way to relieve stress. Get inspired by Pinterest or do whatever comes to mind. If you’re sheltering in place with all adults, you can make your own “paint and wine” night. Don’t have art supplies? Go outside and grab some rocks, leaves, and other natural materials and make something out of it.

  • Do a neighborhood cleanup. The world is never free of trash and could always use a bit of cleanup. Take a pair of work gloves, a large black bag, and walk around your neighborhood or local park. Picking up trash doesn’t just help your community but it gives you a renewed sense of purpose when you realize your actions and initiative are making a positive difference!

  • Deep clean your house. If you skipped spring cleaning, now would be the perfect time to go through your belongings and decide what you don’t want to keep anymore. Clean out your closet and donate the things you never use. Letting go of things is hard but decluttering is relieving.

  • Do household maintenance. Look for your house maintenance checklist and pick a few things that have been put on hold for a while, such as doing a little landscape clean-up, or fixing a dripping faucet. Check out YouTube for tutorials on just about anything— who knows, you might learn a new skill in the process of fixing your things!

  • Put together a jigsaw puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles take an incredible amount of patience, but for some people that’s what makes it a therapeutic activity.

  • Go stargazing. If you’re able to get a little bit away from the lights of the city, you’ll see a whole new world in the night sky. It’s absolutely majestic. Get some blankets and go wish on a shooting star.

  • Take an online class. The digital world has advanced like no other. Taking online courses is commonplace now-a-days, but what I find truly incredible is how many free ones there are available. The course selections are endless, so why not take the opportunity to enhance your knowledge and resume!

  • Get in touch with relatives and friends. Facebook and Instagram keep us in the loop of the highlight reel of people’s lives, but do you really know how your loved ones are doing? Why not give them a call or send them an old-school homemade greeting card? If you have kids, I’m sure they’d love to help.

  • Workout. There are tons of guided exercise videos available online. Why not come out of your shelter-in-place experience looking healthier than before? Take some progress pictures and inspire yourself to keep up with your workout routines. Involve the entire family and make it a new habit.

  • Teach yourself how to juggle or solve a rubik's cube. I know for myself this would take a long time to accomplish, so I would definitely not get bored practicing!

  • Build a blanket fort in the living room. I remember doing this with my sister when we were kids, and even though I’m way beyond those years, it still sounds appealing to me now— with my niece and nephew, of course.

  • Dig up your family tree. Learning your family history is exciting. The internet provides a lot of resources to help you learn your roots.

  • Blow bubbles. Don’t limit yourself to the tiny ones, though. Make your own bubble wand and make giant bubbles. The kids will love this!

  • Play or learn a musical instrument. Thanks to YouTube, you can find many video tutorials where you can learn how to play your favorite songs on different  instruments. Why not give it a try? You might discover a hidden talent within yourself.

  • Learn a new language. There are several ways to learn a new language— the easiest is probably by downloading an app on your smartphone. Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone are just a few of the many options you have at your fingertips.

  • Have a playdate. Schedule a casual afternoon hangout for your neighbors, or a play date between your kids and your neighbor’s kids.

  • Build a lego structure. Legos are awesome for inspiring creativity.

  • Have a snowball or water balloon fight. If it’s wintertime, have a snowball fight. If it’s summer, have a water ballon fight. Either way, it’ll be a blast.

  • Learn how to do origami. If you’re one of the people who stockpiled a year’s worth of toilet paper in 2020, you should definitely look into the art of toilet paper origami! JK 😉

Those are many of the activities you can do to relax and have fun without an agenda. Depending on how long you’re sheltered in place or evacuated for, you might want to kick your activities up a notch and start practicing a new hobby.

The following ideas are skills you can learn from the very comfort of your home. They are a great way to mix fun with education and skill development or enhancement.

Skills you can learn or improve on

  • Finding food. You need food to live, so feeding yourself and your loved ones without the help of your grocer is an important skill to have. Finding food can be broken into different categories. Surely, learning all these skills would require time, so pick one to begin with.

    • Foraging. Learning how to identify edible plants in your area is one of the most useful skills you can have. Don’t believe me? Watch the story of Chris McCandless in the movie ‘Into the Wild’ and let me know if you change your mind.  

    • Hunting and fishing. While this skill definitely takes time to learn as well as the ability to freely go into the wilderness, you can read and watch videos that teach you how to trap, fish, and hunt, as well as how to field dress your kill.

  • Growing your own food. There’s truly nothing tastier than homegrown fruits, veggies, and herbs. Begin by learning which things grow best in your region and move towards starting a garden. If you live in the city, learn about urban gardening. If you live in the countryside, you may have the ability to build a greenhouse. Harvesting seeds is another thing to consider unless you prefer to buy them. Another cool growing option for small plants and herbs is aquaponics and hydroponics. It takes time to make it work successfully, but it doesn’t require a lot of space— you can start with a fish tank.

  • Food preservation. Having access to fresh food is great but unfortunately, it can spoil quickly. Knowing how to preserve food without refrigeration by using methods like canning, freeze-drying, sun-drying, and dehydrating are invaluable skills you should learn. There are plenty of online articles, videos, and books to help you get started. 

  • Cooking at home. Cooking surely requires skills. Oftentimes it’s not as easy as following a recipe— believe me! Being stuck at home will give you more time to explore or enhance your skills in the kitchen. Since most restaurants may be shut down, consider buying ingredients over take-out food. Learn how to make homemade pasta, cook hearty meals, and bake bread from scratch. If you’re already a good cook, you can try mastering the skill of cooking over hot coals, a campfire (substitute the campfire for your wood-burning fireplace), or try a sun oven.

  • Animal husbandry. Of course, this would be applicable to those who have a large enough property to raise farm animals, but it truly is a skill you should consider learning if given the opportunity. You should learn how to raise chickens, rabbits, goats, pigs, and/or livestock, especially since they require special food to meet their nutritional needs for optimal health. There are many things you can learn to process, such as milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and harvesting the animal itself (humanely). In a scenario where the grocery stores run out of meat or dairy products for a long time, you could capitalize on the goods produced by your farm animals to earn an income.

  • First aid and basic medical skills. Accidents can happen whether you’re quarantined in your home or not. Be sure to have some training in emergency medical response. I highly recommend learning first aid if you have children and elderly parents, friends and/or neighbors. There are many online courses and YouTube videos on this topic.

  • Natural and holistic medicine. Consider what can happen if pharmaceutical companies are unable to produce a specific type of medicine for an undetermined period of time. For that reason, you should learn about herbal medicine and which natural items can effectively substitute the pharmaceutical alternative.

  • Home and personal hygiene. In the event of a supply shortage, you should learn how to make your own soap, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, and other cleaning supplies. It’s also very important to learn how to properly dispose of waste. Consider that there may not be workers to maintain the sewage treatment plants, so you may want to think about learning the techniques of composting toilets.

  • Heating and making a fire. It’s important to know how to start a fire, whether that’s in a bonfire pit or the fireplace. Fire might become your only source of heat or alternative cooking and water purification option. Learn to cut wood with a chainsaw, chop it with an ax, and weather/ season it properly for the best results when you need it.

  • Energy conservation. While not a skill entirely, learning how to not rely fully on electricity is invaluable. I’m not saying you should live without power at all, but learn to ration and reduce the use of it. You can also look into alternative renewable power sources, such as solar, wind, or hydro.

  • Target accuracy and marksmanship. Whether mastering the skill of aiming at the bull’s eye of a target means shooting guns, arrows, or darts, it’s a good idea to practice these skills regardless. If you’re using a firearm, you should also learn basic gun smithing, how to properly clean them, and of course how (and under which circumstances) to use them.

  • Bushcraft and tactical skills. Learning primitive skills like how to navigate with and without the use of a compass, how to build a shelter with natural materials, and how to survive off the land will become practical in a bug-out scenario.

  • Basic carpentry. Carpentry can become a great skill to learn for a couple of reasons. For one, it can help distract you from your day-to-day boredom of being stuck at home. Learning how to carve wood using hand tools is both a skill and an art. This hobby can be improved with time and dedication. Secondly, woodworking and carpentry are two occupations that will never go out of style.

  • Sewing. Every person should know at least the basics of sewing, from installing a button to fixing a hole on your clothes. Sewing also helps improve hand-eye coordination and it helps to distract you from the boredom you may be facing while you’re on lockdown. Cross-stitching, crocheting, knitting, and other similar projects may be fun for you and your kids to learn as well.

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