By Susanna de Chenonceau, M.Ed.
April 2, 2020
Hello everyone! Since we’re all at home being safe and helping to flatten the curve, we do need to be creative about ways to fill up your time that would ordinarily be spent outside of the house or with friends. Human beings appreciate structure to our days, so in the absence of your ordinary structure, it’s important to create some for yourself. It’s really important. Like, DO IT.
It is especially tough for teenagers to be at home and away from peers. You guys rely on socializing for your development, so be sure to stay connected to your friends via technology. Connection is important! Try not to take out this frustration on your family; I know that is difficult.
Ok, so all bossiness and quasi-mom-ing aside, this is a great time to set some goals of things you’ve always wanted to do. Remember all of those times when you said, If I just had a free week… Well, now you’ve got a few. So let’s rally, Team World, and let’s put this time to work for your good and for the good of those around you, near and far!
Here is my #1 favorite idea for teens during this unique time in history:
- Think of a group of people that you really would like to help. This can be any area of society whose situation makes you really, really angry or really, really sad.
- Now list everything those people might possibly need at this very difficult time in history.
- Then, next to each of those, list a CREATIVE way that you could do ANYTHING to somehow meet that need. Be creative!
- Then, choose one of those, or a few, and do it! Make it happen. Think of other people right now. Try. Surely there is someone more in need than you, and they could use your help right now, Frodo.
My second idea, especially for teens, is:
- List two of your hobbies that matter most to you:
- Under each one, list all of the things you ordinarily do as you pursue that hobby.
- Now, next to each one, think of a creative way you can *continue* that sort of activity, in some related way. It might not look the same, of course, but you can learn about your hobby, and even talk with your usual team, group, or club on a Zoom chat about it! Find ways to move forward in spite of any limitations. Just be creative! Ingenuity is a beautiful human trait.
- Help yourself in this way, and help others by inviting them to join you.
Two kinds of kids are going to arise at the end of Corona: the kind that only slept and watched movies and played video games because life threw some obstacles at them, and the kind that found creative ways to keep living and pursuing their dreams, in spite of pesky viral, um, setbacks. Be in the second group!
So here, in no particular order, is a list of 75 things you can do while you have so much time to dream and to achieve whatever most appeals to you!
- Help someone else (see above)
- Continue your hobbies (see above)
- Learn another language on Duolingo
- Bake sourdough bread
- Make handmade cards or paper
- Watch TedTalks and create a bibliography for yourself
- Start a podcast
- Write poetry
- READ ANYTHING (and keep a bibliography–you can show the colleges!)
- Organize your peers in Zoom dance parties
- Create the world’s first Zoom Theater piece (my apologies if this already exists)
- Buy stock in Zoom
- Plant a garden or container plants with seeds from the foods you eat
- Serenade grandparents living in assisted living facilities, by phone or FaceTime video (if the facility will set it up on a big screen, you can subject the whole place to your entire last piano recital!)
- Build robots from recycled tech in your home
- Become the next Charles Darwin and seriously study the flora and fauna in your yard or on your street
- Write to a science lab and request a donated microscope explaining that virology suddenly interests you for reasons you can’t quite identify…
- Work out at least 3x a week in any way–even body weight exercises and yoga can easily be done at home!
- Take walks as a family and truly smile at strangers from 6 feet away
- Really work on your photography skills
- Make movies
- Watch movies and stage your own film critic shows for other family members
- Try to cook and plate/present food that looks magazine worthy
- Write a food review for the “restaurant” in your house, and read it aloud. (Take notes at dinner; they’ll love this).
- Publish a family newsletter
- Start a multi-family blog and share ideas and all of your riveting news
- Research your family tree (beware–addicting)
- Create a scavenger hunt
- Write a mystery novel
- Stage a family play with scripts, costumes, and opening night that is viewed on FaceTime by your relatives (Charge them admission. That’s awesome.)
- Start a company
- Write a how-to blog and gather a following of likeminded people
- Work to fluently understand Reddit. And then explain it to me.
- Ok…TikTok dances of family members do make me smile.
- Paint the family pet as famous people like Napolean or Cleopatra
- Learn about investing
- Code a phone app
- SOLVE THE GARBAGE/LANDFILL PROBLEM, KID, PLEASE
- Figure out a way to rid your house of all plastic
- Find a way to honor your heroes (veterans, doctors, firefighters, hardworking parents, etc)
- Analyze some statistics that interest you and compare them across multiple sites. Use your findings to reach out to people working in that area, and get involved in the conversation about solutions. You are NEVER too young to solve a problem of ANY size! Don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young, Timothy!
- Analyze trends in world history and think about what might happen in the future based upon your findings
- Make maps of great battles in history and how they were won, and then think about the future battles and how we can join together around the world to fight them: battles like climate change, pollution, everything Greta says…
- Create a safe place online for people to meet likeminded peers and get support
- Volunteer for a crisis hotline (if you are old enough)
- Take food to the local food pantry
- Find a way to help connect all kids to online learning. That’s right, I said ALL.
- Build something out of wood or clay or any materials you can find
- Study an art-form that seems rare or obsolete and revive it
- Create art
- Organize What’s App pen pals with students your age in other countries (contact a school)
- Write songs
- Learn to dance
- Encourage people
- Read every book written by your favorite author
- Join a campaign
- Give someone the benefit of the doubt today, and say thank you to someone, and tell someone else you’re sorry, and tell yet another person that you love them–someday you will not be able to do these things, so carpe diem, kiddo.
- Paint a copy of a very famous masterwork portrait
- Learn to sing opera, today
- Plan your Presidential campaign and set goals with timelines
- Consider how organized religion would be different today if men and women had been entirely equal throughout all of recorded history
- Create a solution to a local problem
- Design a product
- Raise money for people in need
- Build a computer
- Mentor someone younger than you
- Reach out to someone who might be lonely
- Create a vision board of pictures of your goals and dreams
- Interview adults about their careers. You can honestly email just about anyone right now and since they are at home, there’s a decent likelihood that they will talk to you!
- Write a better Happy Birthday song (Sweden has a good one. I just always think ours is a bit like a dirge.)
- Do some things that restore and refresh you because this is an anxious time for all people, though we are all in it together and you are not alone. Remind yourself that you are not alone.
- Remember that all throughout the world right now, everyone is doing their best. We’ve never been in this spot. It is NOT business as usual right now, so don’t expect that. Give people–and yourself–grace.
- And above all, STAY POSITIVE! We WILL make it through this, team!
Please add your own constructive and positive ideas in the comments! No Negative Nellys or Debbie Downers, y’all. And keep it clean–this is a website for young people! 🙂