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
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
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.