Little girl sitting on a white couch reading a book

6 ways to stay busy during home isolation

LIVE smarter | 8 MIN READ | 2020-03-26

On any given ‘normal’ day, the thought of hunkering down at home and working remotely sounds downright delightful. But given what’s currently happening in the world, things are certainly anything but normal. We’ve put together a list of six ways to stay busy during self-isolation in your home – and even be ahead of the game when we get through it. 

Start your garden

Plants on shelves near a window

Photo by Huy Phan from Pexels

This temporary new reality means adapting to a new way of everything – from working to schooling to living 24/7 with other members of your household. One of the best things you can do to help keep your mindset on the bright side is find diversions you wouldn’t necessarily have time for otherwise. 

For instance, maybe you’ve always wanted to have a windowsill herb garden, or you’d like to start a vegetable garden from seeds rather than buying plants at the garden centre. This is a great little project that you can do either on your own or with the kids – and the results are so worthwhile! There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing that first sprout poke its head through the earth, or watching tomatoes turn from green to ripe red.

Readers Digest has some great tips on how to start your garden indoors from scratch. 

• Pick the right mix. To successfully start plants indoors, the one thing you’ll need is a seed sowing mix that’s lightweight and drains well. 

• Start early. Now is the perfect time to get going, and all you need is a sunny windowsill or some fluorescent lights to get dozens of tiny seedlings growing. 

• Label your containers. You may think you’ll remember which seeds are where, but labelling ensures you know the name of the seed and the date you sowed it since all plants grow at different speeds.

• Spread seeds out. Once you’ve filled your planting mix in trays, firmed it down, watered it and drained the mix, sprinkle seeds evenly and thinly over the surface, about ½-1 inch between each one. Cover seeds with a thin layer of mix. 

• Cover your seeds. Start your seeds out of direct sunlight so they don’t fry in the heat. Try covering seed trays with plastic wrap to keep humidity high – which allows for self-watering. Note: seedlings should stay in a tray for about six weeks before you pot or plant them individually. Most importantly, don’t let the soil dry out!

For even more great tips and to learn all about growing microgreens (yum!), check out this post we shared recently.

And if you don’t have seeds and supplies on hand, you can find them online through home & gardening stores, like Lee Valley and Canadian Tire, and book curbside pickup or have them delivered to your door. Then get ready to reap the benefits!

Tackle DIY projects

white old cabinet painted white with a pink flower art piece on top

Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash

Alright, do-it-yourselfers – this is your time to shine. Raise your hand if you’ve got a list of projects you’ve been wanting to tackle in your home but just haven’t found the time (yup!). Whether there’s something you want to make, a piece you’re hoping to repair or an area in your home you’d like to decorate, DIY projects are a great way to pass the time while beautifying your space (and lifting your spirits). 

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

• Repurpose an old piece of furniture. This post we shared previously is full of great ideas to breathe new life into furniture and other household items. You might even be inspired to try refurbishing something you hadn’t thought of. 

• Paint your interior doors. Add instant wow by painting doors in your home a colour other than white. Try grey, black, navy or red – or any colour that makes you happy.

• Change your doorknobs. This is an easy 10-minute swap with big impact. Matte black, brass, hand-painted ceramic or crystal knobs and a backplate can give your home a whole new vibe. Not sure how? Check this out

• Make no-sew curtains. Have a look at this tutorial from House Beautiful. All you need is some fabric and double-sided tape (and maybe a wee bit of patience).

• Reupholster a chair seat. House Beautiful also has a great tutorial on how to reupholster a chair seat in one afternoon. Another easy project that only requires a few simple tools.

• Add peel-and-stick wallpaper. The benefits of peel-and-stick wallpaper go beyond your walls. Use it on stair risers, to cover old appliances, as insets in cabinets or as drawer liners. 

This video from the Home Edit will also give you lots of great ideas for easy home projects, like making a headboard and side table or creating a light fixture out of a colander. 

Take an online course 

Girl sitting at a table looking at her laptop

Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

The wonderful thing about technology is that it connects us to so many incredible resources – everything from university and college courses to cooking and art classes, flower workshops, exercise programs and so much more. With a bit of time on your hands, the world is now your virtual oyster. Here are a few we think are worth checking out:

MasterClass – start a subscription and you’ll have access to the best teachers, athletes, professionals and artisans in the world. Kind of incredible. 

• GOOP’s list of the best streaming workouts. This list just scratches the surface – and you can find many of your favourite classes on YouTube. The main thing is to keep moving.

if i made – lets you learn from the creatives you admire most. 

Udemy – find pretty much anything you’re interested in – from digital marketing to interior design to financial analysis – all at reasonable prices.

Rosetta Stone – why not learn a new language while you’re hanging out at home?

• BRIT + CO - so many great options to tap into your inner creative - from calligraphy to cookie decorating to taking the best pics of your family. Right now classes are free until March 31st with code “SELFCARE”.

Self-paced learning is an acquired skill, but a great diversion that may even ignite a passion and prompt the start of something new. 

Spring clean 

two brooms with blue handles with a blue pan

Photo by Junko Nakase on Unsplash

There has never been a better time than now to do a deep clean of your home. While there may be many other things you’d rather do, this one will feel particularly good. Start by decluttering your home little by little, bit by bit and then giving each room a really good top-to-bottom clean using natural cleaning solutions as well as more powerful disinfectants that can help protect against COVID-19.

We found this great list from USA Today that can help you organize your days and even make your own DIY disinfectant if you don’t have any on hand. 

• Monday: Bathroom day

• Tuesday: Dusting day

• Wednesday: Vacuuming day

• Thursday: Floor washing day

• Friday: Catch up on anything from the previous days you didn't get to

• Saturday: Sheets and towels day

• Sunday: Upkeep those basic starter tasks

Get crafty

A girl with red nails knitting and drinking coffee

Photo by Rebecca Grant on Unsplash

So, you’ve binged every show on Netflix, stocked your freezer and organized your closets. Now what? If you’re looking for fun projects to pass the time (and keep the kids from climbing the walls), check out these ideas from Something Turquoise. We especially love the beeswax candles, felt flowers and cork people! Even better? You’ll be all set with Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts, and even wedding favours if you’re planning a wedding soon. 

A few other ideas to help ease boredom while adding DIY décor to your home:

Take up knitting, sewing or embroidery and add a warm throw to a bed, a new blind or welcoming sign to your front entrance.

Make lip balm or soap for your guest bathroom.

Make your own stickers, iron-ons and decals to label jars, personalize pillow cases or dress up walls.

Do a paint-by-numbers you’d be proud to hang on your wall.

Start a vision board for your future home renovation.

Have fun

Girl cooking noodles on stove top

Photo by Tina Dawson on Unsplash

There will be days when you’re ready to take on the world, and days when you feel a bit ‘meh’. When you’re not in the mood to start a big project or purge your closets, there are lots of fun diversions to keep everyone in your home occupied. 

We love this list from House Beautiful for those seeking useful ways to spend their time during social distancing. Here are a few of our favourites:

Channel your inner bartender – challenge yourself with interesting cocktail recipes

Cook your way through a cookbook – plan out themed dinners, too.

Browse auction sites – you might just find the perfect piece for your home.

Teach your pet new tricks – great entertainment for your friends when you’re able to welcome them into your home again. 

Volunteer virtually – support your community and help provide much needed comfort.

And check out Home Love – a series of daily tips and ideas to make every minute indoors more productive (and gratifying).

Here’s the thing: There is no right way to feel right now. So, if you’re not up for doing anything other than watching Netflix, listening to podcasts and ordering in, that’s ok. Take the list above and bookmark it for another time when it feels just right. And most importantly, take care of yourself. 

Have other ideas to keep busy in your home during the COVID-19 crisis? We’d love to hear them.