By Patty Gallagher

We’re living in a crazy time – one none of us is likely to forget. When our kids are older and raising families of their own, instead of telling their children how they had to walk uphill against the wind to school every day, they’ll be recounting tales of being stuck at home with Mom and Dad, attending school via video conferencing, and not being able to see friends at all.

But, in all seriousness, so much of our daily routines have been disrupted, cabin fever is setting in, and we don’t really know when things will get back to normal. Instead of dwelling on what you can’t do, try thinking about some of the things you can do that you may not normally have time for – after all every cloud has a silver lining.

Cooking – Try cooking some new meals or baked goods that your family will enjoy, or put a new spin on a family favorite. There are tons of great sites online for ideas if you need them. You can have younger children help you, and even have older kids cook a meal for the family on their own (with you assistance if they need it). It will help develop lifelong skills, will keep them engaged, and give them a sense of accomplishment. But, plan in advance, so you only have to make one trip to the grocery store – and take appropriate safety precautions when going out.

Family dinner – Regardless of who is cooking – and even if you order take out to support local restaurants – eat dinner as a family. That may not be something you can do regularly with normal busy schedules, but it’s a great bonding time, especially if you have cooked with your kids. You can even add fun dinner routines, such as having everyone talk about the favorite thing they did each day, to encourage conversation.

Game time – Dust off the board games in your closet. With both kids and adults constantly on their digital devices, putting them away for a little while to enjoy some traditional games – anything from Chutes and Ladders to Trivial Pursuit to Pictionary to card games – will give your family something different to do together and give your eyes a break from the screen.

Yard work – The weather is getting nicer, flowers are starting to bud, weeds are starting to grow, and there’s probably plenty of work to do in the yard. Find jobs that are appropriate for each person and get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and be productive as a family. Your local hardware stores and garden shops may be open, so you can get any materials you need, like mulch or flowers.

Spring cleaning – Take advantage of the time at home to clean and organize your home. If you have projects you’ve been putting off, this is a great time to get to them, whether it’s organizing your basement, cleaning out your attic, or having kids go through storage bins with their old toys and games.

Exercise – It’s important to stay active even though we aren’t participating in our spring softball leagues, playing schools sports, or going to the gym. If you’ve been out at all, you’ve probably seen many more people out for walks than normal. It’s a great way to just get outdoors and get a little exercise. If you have bikes, go for a family bike ride around town – but wear your helmets and be careful on the roads.

Movie night – Pick a night for family movie night. Whether you’re streaming on Netflix, renting from RedBox, or re-watching some favorite movies you already own, make some popcorn, turn down the lights, and settle in for a couple of hours as a family. Each time, you can have a different family member pick an appropriate movie.

Shopping and bills – When you do need to go to the store, plan carefully to minimize the number of trips and the amount of time you spend in stores. You also will still have to pay your bills. If you have to go to the bank, make sure you check the office hours and service availability. The Milford Bank has its drive-up windows at all branches and the walk-up at the main office open normal hours, but ATMs are available 24/7. In addition, this is a good time to learn about digital or online banking to help simplify your finances. Many services you may normally go to the bank for can be done online.

While these may not be part of your normal work week or school day routines, and our busy lives can easily put quality family time on the back burner, doing some of these things can help your family get through this period. Maybe you will even find a way to incorporate some of these activities into your weekly routines permanently. Remember, when you do have to go out, be safe, wear a face covering, practice social distancing, and thoroughly disinfect when you’re done.