The novel coronavirus was declared a global pandemic more than a month ago, and things are getting pretty bleak. Schools and offices are closed, in most places large gatherings banned, stores and supermarkets are shutting down – other than the obvious panic and worry, people are getting pretty bored. (My friends have complained, er, more than once.)
Although absurdly late, here are some ideas for keeping yourself busy during lockdown/quarantine. (Of course, it isn’t only for quarantine – you can refer to it on a rainy day, or uneventful holidays.)
I’ve grouped the stuff into categories – to make the most out of it, choose at least one activity from each category to keep things diverse. Or choose two or three from every category. It’s up to you.
Alright, here goes!
Three things to do first:
- Don’t waste your time. I’ve tried to make this a list of productive stuff. Don’t just spend your whole day staring at your phone, going to bed with a thumb-ache from all that scrolling. If it’s too hard not to get drawn to your phone, lock it up in the cupboard until, say, lunch. My mom locks our tablet in the cupboard until lunchtime so we focus on our studies in the morning better, and we have a fixed amount of two hours screen time every day in order to limit our usage, and it’s going very well.
- Make a schedule. Be sure to utilize this vast amount of free time. You don’t need to have strict timings, but you should definitely have a rough idea of what you’re doing when.
- Hang with the fam. Spend time with your parents and siblings. Catch up on each others’ lives. Call or Skype your grandparents and dig those numbers of your cousins out of your contact list. This might be a bleak time for the world economy, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a lot else!
- Focus on your Qur’an. This the golden opportunity for strengthening your Imaan and focusing on Deen. If you’re memorizing the Qur’an, increase your Sabaq (the portion you memorize every day) and whatever you revise from behind. If you haven’t started, it’s never too late! Ramadhan is less than a week away. No exams, no school work – gear up for a real ‘Ibadah time!
- Study with your family. We have a fixed time every day in which we all sit together and do our Islamic studies. Sometimes we listen to lectures, or our mom reads aloud from a book. Group study is very beneficial, and discussions are really fruitful as well.
- Increase your Dhikr. Walking around, cooking, washing dishes, feeding your cats – whatever it is, you can always do dhikr. My personal favorite is “سُبحَانَ اللّهِ وَ بِحَمْدِهِ ، سُبحَانَ اللّهِ الْعَظِيم” – the two phrases light upon the tongue but heavy on the Scales on the Day of Qiyamah.
There are so many easy and quick recipes out there, plus heavenly foods that you couldn’t imagine were so easy to make. Home-baked goods have their very own special flavor without all those chemicals and preservatives, and seem to have an extra touch of deliciousness when you make them yourself. You also get the I-made-it warrant to eat more than the others. Come the end of quarantine, step out of home to dazzle your friends with your extraordinary baking skills!
Here’s a list of super easy stuff you can bake, with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen! If you want, check out this list of substitutes, these cake baking tips and decorating tips.
- Chocolate custard. This is a super easy recipe for chocolate custard which keeps for up to three days in the fridge. But don’t leave any steel utensils with it in the dish or it’ll go all runny.
- Chocolate cake, chocolate cake and chocolate cake. Those are three separate recipes. (Yes, I love chocolate cake. Obviously.)
- If you can’t stand so much chocolate, why not try out these vanilla muffins? (I forgot they were muffins because I always bake the batter in a cake pan. It doesn’t affect anything in the least and is easier for me since my oven is quite small.) I usually halve the recipe to make it more manageable, but it’s quite a good one. However, I always eat it with chocolate icing.
- If you have chocolate chips try out these cookies – they’re super delicious and keep for at least four days!
- This chocolate bread pudding is simply heavenly. It’s really easy too, doesn’t require all the ramekins and whatnot of other puddings, and has a relatively short cooking time.
- Chequerboard biscuits look so fancy and are a lot easier than they look! Store them an airtight jar and snack on them whenever you like.
- I don’t have non-chocolate recipes on my blog (which says a lot about me), but my sister has been searching up some these days. She made this strawberry smoothie bowl, date smoothie bowl and strawberry bars. (She said they were all very good, but I don’t know.)
- You can also check out these banana oatmeal muffins for a easy, healthy recipe.
- If you have a lot of chocolate and biscuits try this no-bake chocolate cake. It’s a bit heavy but super yummy!
I, for one, like doing chores. The ancient habit of singing while working has not worn old yet, and being a Pakistani brings about numerous shortcuts and ‘life hacks’ which makes it all the more enjoyable. Hang up the laundry, take it down, set the table, pick up after yourself. These little things don’t take much time at all but are a great help to everyone – first and foremost yourself. Once you make this stuff a habit it’ll be a lot easier later on.
- Wash the dishes. Most domestic helpers have gone on leave now, so don’t let the dishes pile up in the sink. You can assign the dishes of each meal to one person, or work at it all together. (I still remember that when there was a power outage at dinnertime me and my two sisters would wash the dishes together – one soaping, one washing and one placing in the rack – and sing alongside. Those were the days!)
- Hang out the washing. Get some fresh air into your lungs out there alongside! (I used to find hanging up clothes equal to push-ups when I was younger, since the lines seemed so high up and the wet clothes rather heavy. It was nice nonetheless.)
- Sew. I went through a phase of sewing recently, using both the sewing machine and a thread and needle. I actually made shirts and skirts for my toys (well I don’t play with them anymore but since it’s miniature stuff I still like them) which aren’t more than 10 centimetres high and it was actually good practice. Anyway, it always comes in useful to know how to patch a torn shirt, or darn a pillowcase’s lining, or sew on a button.
- Knit. I had left off knitting quite a while ago, but I’ve taken it up again and it’s a great productive way to spend time . If you don’t know how to do it, plenty of tutorials are on YouTube, but if someone in your home (like your grandmother) knows how to knit (which she probably does) then go for it and start learning! You can knit stuff for dolls, toys, cats, or make hand warmers and tea cosies, and eventually progress onto bigger stuff like scarves and blankets. Check out this article for some great ideas for starting off!
- Clean up. Reset your cupboards. Organize the fridge and kitchen cabinets. Arrange your bookshelves. For heaven’s sake, clean out those drawers and pair your socks. And be sure to get rid of unnecessary junk – or make something out of your toilet paper tube collection.
- Gardening. Gardening is much easier than you might realize. I had a stack of little pots in the lawn and recently I filled a bunch of them up and planted stuff in them. Rest assured you don’t need any nursery for this. You can plant vegetables from seeds, or grow roses from cuttings. Or uproot some stuff from the garden and replant it in pots. If you don’t have a lawn you can take stuff from outdoors, like parks, and make a windowsill garden or something.
- Spring cleaning! Now that everybody is home, make spring cleaning a group effort. A few extra pairs of hands make everything faster and all the more enjoyable. Me and my cousin love getting wet, and we often washed the car and the windows together – a quick waterfight afterwards is an extra bonus.
And last but not least – entertain those around you! Write stories, put on plays, make books – you can even send out a weekly newsletter to your friends on email like my friend did! And don’t be afraid to experiment and try out new things – because there is no innovation or creativity without failure.