I’ve known for a long time that I’m an extrovert. My energy comes from being around and interacting with other people. I feel most fulfilled while surrounded by my dearest friends or family, chatting about our lives and catching up on all the latest events. Thankfully my husband and son are right there with me so staying busy by being out and about has become our norm…that is until Coronavirus hit and life as we knew it came to a screeching halt. No more Zoo. No more Botanical Gardens. No more playdates at the park or morning workouts at Stroller Strides. These three extroverts have been forced (like everyone else in America) to find other ways to “fill our buckets”, while staying away from others.
We started out using the typical Facetime, Zoom or Skype; meeting up with friends virtually and trying to attempt a normal conversation while our 21 month-old wreaks havoc on the living room. However, along with the monotony of our COVID-19 days, those calls soon became old news and were less inciting as the days in separation drew into weeks. Realizing the end might not be as near as we’d hoped I started asking others for ideas to “spice up” virtual meetups and decided, since there are so many good ideas, to share them with y’all.
Set up weekly happy hours
make a cocktail, maybe even try a new recipe (this list from Michelle is a great place for some ideas) and share it with your friends so it feels like you made them together. Then treat it as a time to catch up or just check-in.
Plan a movie night/Netflix watch party
You can do this a couple of ways. Set up a time that works for everyone you want to join. Pop your popcorn, grab your beverage of choice, hop on your social connecting platform of choice and watch a movie together. OR if you have the ability/tools necessary to display a movie via projector, invite your neighbors to watch a “drive-in” movie and chat from the comfort of your cars.
Plan a game night
You can make it as simple as playing a “Newlywed Game” with friends by preparing a set of questions in advance (or just use this premade list from One Fab Day). Download jackbox.tv on your computer and share your screen via Zoom to play some virtual games. Or make it simple with no prep and play a game such as 21 Questions, Never Have I Ever, or Two Truths and Lie (also all good options to get to know your friends even better).
Throw a “Houseparty”
This one is as easy as downloading an app, setting up a time with your friends and choosing a game to play. Houseparty has a handful of options such as Heads Up! and Trivia so you can just log on and let the app do the work.
Knowing someone is thinking about you is even more special when we don’t get to see each other face-to-face. We’ve had a handful of friends drop off treats, happy hour drinks for mom and dad, and small craft/toy gifts for our son. Opening our door to a sweet surprise, and friends waving from their cars, has brightened even the most difficult of our quarantined days. Pick up something curbside from your favorite business or toy store and drop it off to brighten someone’s day.
Join/Create a virtual book club
This one is great, because it’ll keep you busy reading an enticing book AND you have an excuse to “meet up” with friends to discuss once you’re finished. Enlist some of your book-loving friends, choose a book (one friend can be the host each time you meet and also pick the book for the month), set a date to discuss, find some discussion questions online (or come up with your own) and fill an evening with some thoughtful discussion.
Join a virtual workout community
Staying at home with a toddler can lead anyone in their right mind to drink, but doing so 24/7 with no social interaction outside the home is a whole new treacherous adventure. One of the ways I’ve added some routine to our days, and helped my mind and body stay fit, is by tuning in to daily workouts. Everyday at 9:30 — come hell or high water — it’s workout time for mama. Sometimes I am squatting with an extra 25lbs and others days he entertains himself for the full 50 minutes, but it does wonders for my mental and physical health.
If it’s not in your budget to pay for workouts then get out of the house and just take a walk. You’re bound to see plenty of neighbors sitting porchside looking for a friendly face to smile or wave to.
Specifically for the younger generation:
Messenger Kids (for your school aged kiddos)
They can use Messenger to do it all: talk, text, play games and send pictures. It is super parent friendly, you can monitor what your child does and who they interact with and your kiddo can keep up with his/her friends. Check out the parent resources page to get started. Some of the ACM Contributor kids have loved using the app to play games such as “Guess Who” and “Battleship” or even just spend time with friends while they build legos or color.
Guest Speaker Read-Aloud
This is something many classroom teachers do because it’s always exciting to have someone you love (and someone different from the people your children see everyday) read a favorite book. Ask a family member or well-known (by your kids) adult to read a book. Choose a time to set up the event and tell your kids someone special wants to read to them. Pull out the physical book if you have a copy or just hop on a call while the book is read aloud.
Write to a Pen Pal
This definitely isn’t only for the kids, I know most adults also love receiving snail mail. Writing letters is an awesome way to get your child to practice penmanship, spelling, letter format and they can have fun decorating while keeping in touch with friends near and far.
*Ask a mom in advance if her child wants to be a pen pal so you can ensure your kiddo gets a letter in return.
Whether you’re an extrovert like me or you’re happy cooped up at home, hopefully this list gives you a new option or two to help you stay connected with the outside world. Try a few, share with friends, and let me know how else you’re staying connected.