Quality Time at Home

By Tara Gary

I find myself repeatedly thinking, “if you would have told me a year ago… I wouldn’t believe it.” For example, if you would’ve said to me a year ago that I would be “social distancing” myself right now, I would not have believed it. So often I have plans and intentions that end up very differently, and thankfully, most of them end up positively affecting my life. In no way am I suggesting this virus pandemic is a positive thing, but I do believe the time we have may be perfect for rejuvenating ourselves and our relationships with our families—if we don’t go stir-crazy first.

I can say this is a time to rekindle and reconnect with family, coexisting with one another under one roof as lovingly as the family did in Father Knows Best. I can say that because my kids are adults now. I can’t imagine how bonkers we would all be if this had happened when they were younger. Let’s face it, we love our kids and families, but self-quarantining may just make us all more than eager to return to our normal daily lives. I mean seriously, seeing your significant other every minute of every day, for who knows how long?! (I’m only kidding.)

I do really think this time with one another might just be the positive side to this terrible virus. When was the last time your calendar was cleared and you could actually spend uninterrupted, quality time with one another or even just yourself? What will you do? How will you spend it? 

Some suggestions I have are:

Learn a new language. (Even though you can’t currently travel, you will be able to eventually.) FYI, Fulton County Library System offers free access to an award-winning language learning resource, Mango Languages. Visit afpls.org and look for it under Books, Research & Databases.

Count how many times you see or hear the word “coronavirus” in one day.

Teach your kids or significant other (or whomever) how to wash their hands. Just saying, it’s a useful task.

Track how long it takes for your household to go through a roll of toilet paper. (Hopefully, you still have some!)

If you don’t have any toilet paper, make a sign for your front yard that says you’re out of tp. Then, make a sign thanking the hoarders for buying it all up. Make sure to use a brown marker.

Write your name backwards and see what it spells. Mine is “a rat.” Thanks Mom!

Re-enact episodes of Survivor in your backyard. (On second thought, maybe not a good idea.)

Clean out your closets.

Clean out your pantry.

Clean out everything.

Organize that stuff.

Sell things you no longer want or need online, and make a little cash.

Exercise! There are plenty of apps and online videos to follow. I bet if you look hard enough you can find the old Jane Fonda workout video from the 80s.

Try a new recipe. Ha, ha! Anyone who knows me knows I rarely cook, and if I do, it’s typically from the freezer. Shockingly, I have referenced Pinterest for a few “easy-to-prepare” meals. I’m pretty sure my significant other is ready for restaurants to reopen.

Pamper your body with lotions, masks, and whatever else you have in that stack of samples and freebies you’ve collected and never used. (This one ties in well with the suggestion to “clean out everything.”)

Wash your dog or cat. They may not like it, but they probably need it.

Do your taxes, if you haven’t already.

Wash your car and detail it. When you’re done, come do mine. I promise I won’t come outside and help you. I’m taking social distancing seriously.

Try on your clothes and come up with new outfits. Find outfit suggestions on Pinterest. You know you probably wear the same three outfits or a version of those three outfits everyday, like I do, yet you have a closet full of clothes you’ve rarely worn.

Talk to the people you live with. You may just have something in common.

Go through the photos on your phone and your computer. You’d be surprised at how many you will want to delete.

Print some of your favorite photos and frame them.

Go online and have some of your favorite photos of yourself made into gifts. They will be perfect gag gifts for the holiday parties you’ll eventually be attending.

Have a wine or beer tasting with your significant other. You may figure out you like something you didn’t know you liked—like your significant other.

Snuggle.

Plan a party that you’ll throw once we can gather again.

Build something with all the stuff you have piled up in the garage.

Use whatever paint you have lying around to “remodel” a room.

Do your laundry and wash all of those pillowcases and items that sometimes get forgotten.

Get an app to track the planes flying over your house. Who is flying somewhere and why?

If it ever stops raining, get outside. Everyone needs a little vitamin D. Of course, use SPF responsibly.

Drink. Don’t drink. I’m not advocating it, but I definitely will be.

Even adults can play Twister.

Plant something.

Try on some old Halloween costumes and play.

Pull out those old roller skates, rollerblades, or skateboards and give them a try. Maybe not the best suggestion. If you injure yourself, you may be hard-pressed to find help.

Take an online course. You may need it.

Practice smiling.

Wipe an outdoor surface clean of pollen. Count how long it takes before the surface is covered in pollen again. (Hint: Not very long.)

Make a time capsule. Don’t include hand sanitizer or toilet paper. We still need it.

Write a letter to your great-great-grandchildren about the time, back in the day, when toilet paper was nowhere to be found.

Read the warning labels on everything in your home. You may learn something useful.

Figure out what that annoying noise is and fix it. You can fix nearly anything by following YouTube videos—thanks YouTube University.

Count how many chips are really in a bag of potato chips. And reminisce back to the days when the bag was actually filled with chips, not air.

Write a letter to someone. They will be very surprised to receive it.

Try a body cleanse detox. (You’re not going anywhere anyway.)

Make your own scavenger hunt. See if your significant other can figure out where things are in your home. Like cleaning supplies, for instance.

Go through your phone contacts and delete the people you don’t recognize. You know, the ones you met briefly years ago and said “we’ll keep in touch.”

Change your passwords to everything. That should take some time!

I asked some of my friends and co-workers to share what they’ve been doing, because I believe you may find their lists a little more practical than mine. Hopefully they will spark an idea or two for you.

Brandy, our editor who has two young daughters said her family has been:

Having dance parties in the kitchen—“Alexa, play our favorite songs.” Music is a great way to lift your spirits, and dancing is just… fun.

Putting together a jigsaw puzzle of The Child aka “Baby Yoda” on the dining room table. (If you don’t know who he is, binge-watch the first season of The Mandalorian and get ready for the cuteness!)

Spring cleaning outside. Her daughters played, helped out in the yard, and earned a little money for their piggy banks in the process.

Watching movies together. They’ve enjoyed some that Brandy loved when she was younger (Shirley Temple in The Little Princess, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, An American Tail, The Sandlot, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids).

Reading—one of the best things you can do with your children. Did you know, reading strengthens social, emotional, and character development. She mentioned there are great websites for kids like storylineonline.net which streams videos featuring actors reading children’s books and storytimefromspace.com where astronauts read stories from the International Space Station (ISS).

Eating comfort food. Adding, she should probably add exercise to her list of things to do.

Watching LEGO Masters on Fox and giving the girls their own weekly build challenges. Something they’ve really enjoyed! Get your brick on.

TeleSchool (what public school is being called right now). Her oldest daughter came up with their daily “school schedule,” which keeps them pretty busy. She even posted it up on the wall.

Our awesome graphic designer, Tiffany and her family have been:

Playing board/card games—Apples to Apples is currently her family’s fave—and putting together jigsaw puzzles.

Cleaning and organizing.

Going on walks—fresh air, exercise, and a change of scenery is a must.

Online shopping. Essential for social distancing, and a nice option to have. Several companies, who have temporarily closed their doors, are offering free shipping.

Ignoring screen time limits!

Our Publisher, Mark has been posting cute photos of his pets on Instagram. Well, he does that all the time, self-quarantined or not. He did mention he and his family are playing a lot of board games together—Relative Insanity being a favorite.

What am I doing? Well, writing this column for one. I’m also contemplating my decision to focus on my event planning business. (Probably not the best timing.) My house is very clean and about to be much more so. We are taking one area per day and tossing, donating, or selling whatever we haven’t used, even if we “intended to use it” or “it could be useful one day.” We want to seriously minimize the “stuff” in our home and daily lives. It’s been fun looking at items and remembering how we acquired them. Was it a bad decision to buy in the first place? If it was, we’ll remind ourselves of that the next time we have the urge to purchase something. Did we get it on a favorite vacation or road trip? It’s something to look back fondly on, but may not be necessary to keep. Do we even know what it is? Getting rid of things has been very satisfying. Especially when I see people who are stumbling over “stuff” and not able to enjoy the space they live in. Let it go.

Self-quarantining has seriously been a good thing so far. We’ve been contemplating using our RV full time and this has been a pretty good time to measure our patience, sanity, acceptance, forgiveness, toilet paper consumption, and spatial awareness. Laughter and beer help.

Whatever you decide to do with this time, keep in mind, no matter what, this too shall pass. One day there will be a history class teaching about the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020.

When not writing, Roswell resident Tara Gary is busy making industrial furniture, charcuterie boards, and local art. Most nights she can be found with her friends at local breweries and pubs drinking craft beer.