Staying connected with friends and family can be difficult under current quarantine guidelines, and it can be challenging to come up with creative ways to keep in touch with those you love. The need for social distancing and awareness about what that entails has increased dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. People who may not have felt sick but were unlucky hosts for the virus went about business as usual. They went to restaurants to eat with their family, met a friend to see their favorite band at a concert, or took their children on a family trip to the zoo. As the situation progressed, we began to realize how easily the virus can be transmitted from person to person, and just how lethal this silent predator really is. Travel restrictions were put in place, non-essential business began to shut down, schools moved classes to online e-learning, and public gatherings like sports events and museums postponed or cancelled the event altogether. In an already tenuous and stressful situation, these restrictions on public gatherings and travel left a need for individuals to replace their usual entertainment activities with safer, virtual options.
Luckily, many businesses and institutions recognized this need across the board and are making various entertainment and wellness resources available online. From game nights to museum exhibits to free book readings, there are a now a vast selection of resources that people can use to stay connected to family and friends while we collectively fight COVID-19.
Remote Game Night: One idea is to host a remote game night. Various games are available online or as a free app, including Catan, Scrabble, and Guess the Spy. Charades and Pictionary can be accessed here. You can also join your friends or family for a game of cards over Skype or Zoom. Need more ideas? Check out this article on the Boston Globe’s website.
Cooking Virtually Together: For the culinary enthusiasts, you can connect with your friends and family by choosing a recipe from the Bon Appetit or New York Times Cooking YouTube Channels. Spend time cooking the recipe and sharing a meal together over Skype or Zoom. Miss joining your friends for happy hour? Bon Appetit has a virtual solution for that too.
Arts and Entertainment: For those interested in the arts and humanities, institutions like the Globe Theatre are offering recordings of plays from authors like Shakespeare that are available for viewing online. Stream the Metropolitan Opera or visit Broadway online. If you’re a reader, Audible offers hundreds of titles completely free to access on their platform in an effort to help during the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of going to the movie theater, you can host a Netflix party—just download the Netflix Party browser extension to watch TV shows and movies in real time with your friends and family.
Staying Connected: There are many virtual platforms available to host meetings, book clubs, or gatherings. Try Zoom, WebEx, Facebook Live, and more. Social media apps like Tik-Tok or Marco Polo allow people to send short video chat messages to friends and family.
Celebrating Others: Many people may be looking for how to make their loved one’s birthday special. Consider decorating your home with signs, organize a drive-by car parade to honk and sing, order a birthday sign to be placed in your yard, or host a Zoom Birthday party with cake and singing of happy birthday with friends/family.
Home Projects: At home, think about projects you have always wanted to tackle like organizing photos, hanging pictures, cleaning out closets or scrap booking. Are there hobbies you have always wanted to learn or practice? You can build LEGO creations, try knitting or crocheting, read, journal write, and paint. Many stores offer online shopping with either delivery or curbside pick up, such as Michaels to get supplies. And as spring arrives, plan to spend time outside to clean out the garage or work in the yard or garden.
Fun and Educational Activities for Children: There are a variety of fun and/or educational online activities you can do with your children at home. Build in a routine for your kids and use some of these options. Places like the San Diego Zoo offer a website just for kids where with videos, activities, and games. There are even live cameras where you can check on all of the animals in the zoo. Discovery Education offers virtual field trips, which cover topics like Polar Bears and the Tundra, Social/Emotional Skills, Manufacturing, and more! Museums all over the world are moving to virtual tours you can take with your family from the comfort and safety of your home. You can travel to Paris, France, to see amazing works of art housed at The Louvre or take a trip into the past down the Great Wall of China. Mo Willems, best-selling children’s author hosts a lunch time drawing session for children, posted each weekday at 1 p.m. EST. Many neighborhoods have started scavenger hunts for kids by placing an item in the window for them to find such as a heart, or bear or smiley face. This can be coordinated among neighbors.
Be creative and use your social distancing and time at home to the fullest. Keep engaged and connected to your family and friends. Cultivate those relationships while finding fun and unique ways to stay connected during COVID-19.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Emmy Schram is the Communications Coordinator for the Department of Emergency Medicine. She earned her MA in English from Ball State where she taught English Composition while working as a freelance graphic/web designer. She brings with her varied professional experiences which she uses to support departmental communications efforts while finding new ways to combine her passions for marketing and education.