Things to Do While You Are Social Distancing

By Robin Trimingham

Whether by choice or company directive, by the time you read this many of you will be spending more time at home than usual for the next little while.

Although some readers will have jobs that can be done remotely via the internet, it is likely that most people will have more free time than they are accustomed to.

Your initial thought may be to surf the web and binge on Netflix until life returns to normal, but those of you who are regular readers of this column will already be aware that excessive “screen time” can lead to all sorts of side-effects from anxiety, to sleeplessness to lethargy.

When you finally do manage to pry yourself away from your device, the first thing that you will most likely notice is that your house could really use a little attention — OK, maybe a lot of attention.

Suddenly those spiders in the corner of the room that you managed to whiz as you rushed the kids off to school will seem to have multiplied overnight. And don’t start me on those scuff marks on the walls that seem to appear out of nowhere!

As someone who has figured out how to work successfully in a home office on a permanent basis, I would like to suggest that the key to keeping your sanity during extended isolation is to intersperse periods of intense focus on work with short activities that have absolutely nothing to do with work.

The following is a list of suggestions to get you going, but once you begin to build time into your day for “home beautification” there is no limit to what you can accomplish:

• Wash all the shelves in the kitchen cupboards including the outside of the doors

• Clean out the space under the kitchen sink (and the really scary one under the bathroom sink)

• Put a rag over a broom and teach the kids how to remove cobwebs from the ceiling and under furniture

• Hunt down and remove all the scuff marks referred to above — award a prize to the family member who finds the most

• Wash and iron all the blankets, mattress covers and curtains in the house

• Sort your clothes, mend the ones you have been avoiding and catch up on the ironing

• Clean all the windows on the inside and at least the ground-floor level on the outside

• Trim all the hedges and root the cuttings in bits of soil to increase the number of flowering shrubs in your garden,

• Hunt down, empty and remove any item outside that can collect standing water including saucers under potted plants — water conservation be dammed mosquitoes are not house pets

• Uproot and remove all plants that are known to collect standing water — I repeat mosquitoes are not house pets!

• Start experimenting to see what plants you can grow from cuttings — basil, parsley, rosemary, and tomatoes can all be grown from cuttings in water and dried beans can also be sprouted in jars of water on your kitchen windowsill

• Build a bluebird box from any scrap wood that you find lying around the house — you can paint it later if the wood does not match

• Clean out the pump room or any other exterior structure you have been avoiding

• Clean out and vacuum the car — for bonus marks give the kids a damp rag and get them to clean the dashboard and driver’s console

This is a tough time for all of us, especially the elderly and kids home from school all day. Fatigue and boredom will set in — that’s inevitable and natural. You’re not alone and we will get through it together. Stay tuned!

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