Until COVID-19 is behind us, we know that we are all safer practicing social distancing by staying home. For teachers, this means time away from your friends, family, school, and students, which may begin to make you feel isolated as the weeks turn into months. If a student were experiencing a challenging life event and asked you for advice, you would likely tell him to look for the positives—and the learning opportunities—in the situation. All of us can benefit from this grounded, optimistic advice. To help you find the positives of being socially distanced at home for the next few weeks, we have eight ideas to take advantage of your time away from school.

#1 – Make a Donation Pile

Sort through your closet and pull out any clothes you haven’t worn in a year, or that don’t make you feel like a ten when you wear them. Bag them up and put them aside to donate to your local Goodwill Donation Center. Clean out other closets and drawers in your home. Do one or two a day when you need a mental break.

Fun Find: Check out Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. In this series, renowned tidying expert Marie Kondo tries to help folks declutter their homes — and their lives. Pay special attention to the episodes that feature clothing closet clean outs. Does that t-shirt make you feel joy? If not, donate!

#2 – Learn a New Language

Prepare for your dream vacation to Paris, Lisbon, Argentina, or Iceland by learning a new language. Brush up on a language you haven’t studied since high school, you’ll be surprised at how much you remember.

Fun Find: Free mobile apps like Duolingo make it easy, and with dozens of languages to choose from, you can master nearly any dialect, including High Valyrian or Klingon. Share this idea with students who are already taking a language or are interested in learning one. There are many different levels from beginner to advanced. And they’re super fun and engaging!

#3 – Take a Virtual Yoga Class

Protect your health and boost your immunity by staying active. Many local gyms and yoga studios are now video streaming regular classes. You may also want to check out the wide variety of free workout videos on YouTube. Fitness Blender offers over 500 free workouts ranging from yoga, pilates, stretching, low-impact cardio, and high-intensity interval training.

Fun Find: Did you know that Peloton isn’t just a cycling app? They also offer strength, stretch, yoga, and meditation classes and in response to COVID-19 they are offering a 90-day free trial! Namaste!

#4 – Tackle a Home Improvement or Organizational Project

Why not repaint your bathroom, reupholster your dining room chairs, polish the sterling silver you received for your wedding (that you never use) or convert your old photo albums to digital copies? There are many organization or home improvement projects that we never seem to have time for, and that don’t require a significant financial investment, that could benefit from your time and attention now.

Fun Find: Need some inspiration? Don’t know which junk drawer to tackle first? Check out the hundreds of organizing gurus on Instagram. Here are a few of our favorites: @TheHomeEdit @simplyspaced @bneatobar @iheartorganizing @theorganizingstories @poppin @thingsorganizedneatly @abowlfulloflemons

Mother has baked pumpkin pie for her son#5 – Be More Like Julia Child

Have you ever watched a chef make pasta from scratch, or a four-layer cake, or roast a whole chicken and think to yourself, “Who has time for that when you can simply buy it pre-made?” Julia Child said, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” Now is your chance to test your culinary skills and build your kitchen confidence.

Fun Find: Get the kids involved. Cooking together is a great way to help you children discover new flavors and take pride and ownership over creating meals. Check out Tasty Junior on Facebook for some kid-friendly recipes. And if you’re rather kick back and watch a movie, check out the feel good film, Julie & Julia.

#6 – Discover Your Inner Picasso!

Your students likely love indulging in a creative project, whether it be watercolors, clay sculpture, jewelry-making, poetry writing, knitting, website design, creative fiction writing, or sketching. Order supplies for home delivery and embrace your inner creative spirit. When you return to school, show your students what you learned.

Fun Find: How cool is this? Mo Willems, an American writer, animator, and creator of children’s books including the Pigeon series and Elephant and Piggie is holding “Lunch Doodles with Mo” on a regular basis. Grab some paper and a pencil and enjoy! Make sure to share with students of all ages!

#7 – Find Music

Just like dusting off your artistic aspirations, it may have been years since you last tickled the ivories or hummed into a harmonica. Luckily, it is easier than ever to learn a musical instrument online. Borrow your child’s guitar, dust off that old keyboard, and follow along with lessons on YouTube. You may find it’s a hobby you want to maintain even when school is back in session.

Fun Find: Music teachers are offering online teaching sessions on sites such as LessonFace.com.

#8 – Train for a 5K

Communities across the country have postponed road races to accommodate social distancing requirements. They will be back, though, and so will you if you start training now to run the 3.1-mile race. If you do not regularly run now, start by walking just a quarter-mile every day. Slowly build up your distance while incorporating bits of running in with your walking. Start by just running .10 of your one-mile walk. Then in a week, build up to .25. Keep going, building your distance, and running endurance until you’re prepared to run through the finish line and claim your souvenir t-shirt.

Fun Find: Apps like Couch to 5k can help by providing you with tracking tools, guides and support.

The Gift of Time

No matter how you spend your time following the social distancing recommendations or mandates of your community, the most important thing is that you stay at home and stay safe. Find ways to be productive and challenge yourself and embrace time indoors. Before you know it, you’ll be heading back to school and wondering when you’ll be able to fit in time for your advanced Klingon lessons.

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