Right now, the COVID-19 coronavirus is still spreading across the globe, and by now, over 100,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide. This certainly includes the United States, where the densely crowded New England area has been hit especially hard, such as New York and Massachusetts. This means that most citizens and employees are under quarantine in their homes, and as for financial stability, relief checks are being sent to millions of adult workers. But what else can you do while you are at home? This is no time to just binge Netflix or think about how bored you are. In fact, if you have enough creative hobbies and a healthy outlook, you might never be bored again, especially if you have family or roommates to keep you company. Now, what are some fine things to do while under quarantine at home, and which expenses or activities are a poor choice right now?
Do: Home Cleaning
This is a fine time to make your apartment or home a clean and pleasant place to live, and a number of households are behind on this task. Maybe you’ve been busy with work and your social obligations, and your home is a bit grimy right now? If you are not going to work, that’s hours of free time that can be spent on some serious chores. Be sure to include any and all members of the household in this endeavor, if you have company.
This will not only make your home nicer to live in, but it is also sanitary and can help reduce the odds of anyone getting sick. Use soapy water and other safe cleaning agents to wipe down all the countertops, the stovetop, tables, desks, faucets, sinks, and just about any other surface that you can reach. Be sure to draw up a new cleaning schedule, since cleaning is hardly a one-time chore. If you don’t already have a cleaning schedule, now is the time to draft one, and some cleaning jobs need to be done every day, or every week. Similarly, be sure to open up your computers and clean them out too, removing all dust and dirt and hairs from inside.
The floor needs some cleaning, too, and your home is probably filled with airborne VOCs due to excessive dirt in the carpet. Rug and carpet fibers are good at soaking up dust, dirt, spilled food, pet hairs, and much more, but vacuuming diligently can remove a lot of that filth and improve air quality in the home. And if you have one, use a carpet cleaner that will shampoo the carpets and scrub them deeply. Such devices can remove a lot of filth that regular vacuums cannot reach.
Don’t: Take Trips
This is not the ideal time for travel, for more than one reason. Money may be tight for you right now, as it is for many Americans and small businesses, and weekend getaways are an extravagance for a different time (or perhaps even never). This is not only too costly, but might not even be possible; many public transit vehicles are not in operation, especially jets, and a number of tourist-oriented places are closed or empty. Even if you could afford a trip somewhere in another state or another nation, there probably won’t be much to see or do in any case. If you own a recreational vehicle, such as an RV or a pontoon boat, the simple truth is that your vehicle must sit in storage for a while longer. It will be waiting for you when the crisis is over.
Do: Health Upkeep
This is a fairly broad topic, and everyone’s health is different. The COVID-19 crisis is all about public health, and many hospitals and urgent care centers are overwhelmed right now. You may be tempted that you should stay home even if your children need braces or you need regular dental work, but not necessarily so. Your health is vitally important, and there is no reason for you to suffer a toothache or other issues while the quarantine is under effect. Adding another health problem on top of the risks of getting sick is doing no one any favors. Instead, take care of your health, but be cautious and smart about it, to minimize the risk of anyone in your household getting sick.
Instead of ignoring your dentist, call them and check to see if your upcoming appointments have been rearranged, and get that squared away. When you do visit the dentist, make every effort to arrive right on time so you don’t linger in the waiting room where other people might be. This is especially true if you are already ill, so it’s best to not spend any more time there than you have to. If possible, wait until you recover before visiting.
Patients in hospital beds with COVID-19 aren’t the only ones who might need serious help during this time. Substance abuse is as much a problem as ever, and to cope with the stress and anxiety of these times, some people (maybe one in your household) will turn to drugs or alcoholism. This is not good; rather than fixing the problem, substance abuse adds new ones, and it will be unpleasant or even dangerous to co-exist with a drug addict or alcoholic. Not to mention how substance abuse is a financial drain even in the best of times. If need be, enlist your friends and family to stage substance abuse interventions for anyone who is about to slip into a drug habit.
Hospitals may be still be overloaded with patients, even with advanced tech such as family medicine check-in software and billing programs. But there is another option: telemedicine. For those not aware, telemedicine is the young but rapidly-growing field of patients looking up doctors from the comfort of their own homes and speaking to them via video chat. Even without the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a highly convenient option that many Americans regularly use, so they can avoid crowded and germy doctor’s offices. Or, they do this if they have no transportation to local doctor’s offices. You, too, can try telemedicine by looking up “virtual doctors” near me, and speak to one from the safety of your home. With the video, you can show the doctor any symptoms you have, and that doctor can access your medical records with Cloud data storage.
Don’t Do: Home Renovations
Cleaning your home is a great idea, to keep it sanitary and pleasant, but this shouldn’t extend to replacing all the kitchen floor tiles or knocking down a wall. Why not? Home renovation projects are quite costly to begin with, and it is mainly older Americans who pay good money for interior remodeling crews. If you are a younger homeowner, such as a Millennial (born 1982-1995), it is likely that you cannot afford this anyway. And even if you can, this sort of project can afford to wait. Right now, your income may be heavily affected by the pandemic, and your health is not dependent on first floor renovations or similar projects. Instead, simply wait out the quarantine, and once the health crisis is over, carefully evaluate your finances and determine if remodeling is a good call. Many homeowners get the remodeling done if they plan to sell the home soon, and they can generate a serious ROI (return on investment) if the home features remodeled rooms. That home may also sell faster since it appeals more to homeowners (the same is true for investing in landscaping). But this can wait.
Do: Basic Home Upkeep
While total home remodeling is expensive and unnecessary during a crisis like this, the basic repair is a different story. For the sake of your comfort, health, and finances, make sure that all utilities and hardware are all in good shape and not leaking or damaged. Leaky pipe fittings, thin wall insulation, a leaking roof, or drafty windows and doors aren’t just uncomfortable to live with; they waste money. Bear in mind that fully half of a home’s electric bill goes toward the HVAC system, so if it’s inefficient and faulty, that’s a lot of wasted money on a daily basis. Something similar can be said about leaking or busted pipes, or very old and inefficient toilets, showerheads, faucets, etc.
So, feel free to hire plumbers, electricians, spray foam crews, and roof repair experts to fix up any damaged or compromised features in your home, and it is likely that the workers will practice social distancing and respect your needs in all forms. Also, note that drafty windows and doors are often shoddy and old, and don’t fit well in the frames. Not only will they leak air, but they are easy for burglars to break into, and they hurt the home’s value when you put it on the market. But new windows and doors are tough, attractive, and draft-free.
Don’t: Go on a Reckless Job Search
Should you find new employment, such as seeking out desirable lab tech jobs? You might or might not be in a position to do that, given how complicated and difficult the current situation is. Many jobs aren’t even being performed right now, and many smaller companies are going bankrupt. That’s an iffy job market, but not for all positions. Many American employees and job seekers for years now have been working remote positions, for all kinds of reasons. They are avoiding the noise and distractions of the office, which boosts concentration and makes phone calls easier to conduct. Thanks to the internet, remote workers can get work done at a home office, and access Cloud data storage accounts. This may be just what you’re doing, and you can also have a virtual presence in meetings with a webcam. Another benefit of doing this is you can allocate commute time for additional work.
If you don’t already have the job you want, consider other types of at-home work, such as remote customer service jobs, 911 dispatch jobs, and digital marketing or content creation jobs. These are ideal for job seekers who can’t easily leave the home for office work, and now, that may describe you, too.
Do: Use Your Time Constructively
This is another broad topic to discuss since it can take many different forms, and it applies to just about everyone, including you. Presume that your financial life is tight but stable, and you do not have any emergency health or safety needs to tend to at the moment. Now, how are you going to spend your waking hours? This is something that many people at home are grappling with, and your range of options is much wider than you might think. Fortunately, many worthwhile hobbies and pastimes will cost you little money, or even none at all.
Should you get some exercise done? Most likely, yes. The human body is naturally engineered for exercise, and exerting yourself every day will burn calories and fat, keep your mind sharp, improve your mood and sleep, and lower your risk of heart disease. But how to do it? It’s not an option to visit a fitness center or gym or even take a soccer class, but some light exercise is possible indoors. Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges are all possible (assuming you are physically able), and if you have dumbbells, use those, too. As for exercising outside, this is an option so long as you are careful. Practice social distancing and try not to touch anything, and don’t go exercising outside if you are ill. Otherwise, enjoy your time outside in parks, trails, and your neighborhood and get some fresh air and sun as you jog, walk, run, or ride a bicycle. This may end up being the highlight of your day.
This is also a fine time for skill-building and education, and if you have school-aged kids with you, be sure to include them, too. No one is ever done learning, even if they have graduated high school or college. You can use a combination of websites, good books, and documentaries to learn about just about anything, and this can keep your mind sharp and occupy you during the quarantine. There is no need to just binge a sitcom that you’ve already seen; instead, exercise your mind. You can have a similar effect when you assemble jigsaw puzzles or perform brain teasers, and you can also play board games and card games of all kinds, even with ordinary card packs. These can be great fun and don’t require a screen, and they encourage social time, exercise your critical thinking skills, and much more. In a similar vein, try out some low-cost creative projects such as drawing and sketching, poetry, essay writing, and other arts and crafts.
This health crisis is no fun for anyone, and it can put a financial strain on many households. But if you avoid major and unnecessary expenses while pursuing worthwhile projects and hobbies at home, you can make the most of it just fine.