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Published March 28th 2020
Finding creative ways to save and be entertained
There's no argument that the world as we know it has changed and has given us a wake up call. Time to rethink our priorities, time to adapt and deal with the now, stay in the present and hope for a better future. Time to reset and get it right. Work at not just surviving but thriving. Learning new skill sets, be it communication, interaction, building better relationships or being creative, inventive and innovative. COVID-19 is giving us a taste of how things can do a complete turnaround and makes us question if we are ever ready for come what may.
Keep calm and carry on is good advice to take on board, as panic only spawns panic. There's enough to go around if we all keep calm and continue with our normal grocery shopping habits. We have to trust that if lockdown comes around, we can still shop for everything online and have it delivered. If we keep crowding the shops, it won't be just the cafes, restaurants and beaches that'll shut down, and we don't want it to come to that. Staying indoors except for the necessities is very good advice. One only needs to believe the reality of mounting numbers, to know the truth is out there, and not to add to it. Stay educated about COVID-19. Knowledge is power, forewarned is forearmed.
Taking care of all aspects of our health is important; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Perhaps now is the time to develop our resilience, our verve to learn from our forefathers and take things back down to basics in living, entertainment, connection and community. Old school values are new again. A reminder to respect the land, respect all we have and the attitude of gratitude to look on the sunny side of everything. All it takes is a shift in how we look at things to see that shimmer of light, hope and inner peace and happiness. A time to be mindful, thoughtful and really appreciate what we have, especially when things go back to normal.
Financially many are in a binder as small businesses are forced to close down, along with those in the entertainment industry for the betterment of everyone's longevity. We have been set on a course to stay financially viable and to entertain ourselves. Let's not be glib about the fact that we have social media, video communication and smart TVs and mobiles to keep us engaged, amused and uplifted. Yet, taken away from us, we have to admit there's nothing like real human to human contact to stay connected and that social media and the world wide web alone will never be enough. Let's take away from that and never forget it! The importance of community, family and good friends.
You may have already seen my small offerings and ideas of amusement and entertainment, to which you can add via comments for all others to benefit from. Indoor games and watching television while being cooped up all the time will not completely keep you sane (in the nicest possible way). Especially if you spawn from a generation of quick gratification and a reliance on social media for entertainment. In light of current circumstances our mental health is super important in these troubled times, and taking care of it and learning to cope during this outbreak is optimum. Beyond Blue's website is very helpful and can also be called upon when you're in dire straits. Other helplines include Kids Helpline; the Samaritans; Lifeline; and a Callback Service to name a few.
Getting our ducks in a row is a good start to help stay healthy in all ways. I have no doubt you all have lots of money-saving ideas and I hope you'll share your tips with everyone in comments. With restaurants and cafes being closed and staying isolated, the good news is we can either save or make an occasion out of the saving. Organise special dinner nights where everyone gets dressed up for a slightly posher dinner. Cook something special, or try something new you've never cooked from a recipe book. Perhaps like the movie Julie and Julia, now is the time to try a new recipe every day, from the recipe book that's been gathering dust on the shelf. Have a family party in the backyard complete with fun games and guitar playing and singing under the stars.
You'd be amazed at how children are easily amused. How many times has a kid enjoyed playing with the cardboard box, rather than the content inside? All they need is a huge dose of parent participation as presence and time is their greatest present of all. Messy, but cooking together and working as a team is not only bonding but teaches the kids a set of life skills that don't rely on takeaway. Learning to shop and be frugal in troubled times is a good way to learn maths, calculations and coming up with innovative creative thinking. Skills and self-reliance that follows the child from childhood to adulthood in work ethics and teaches them coping mechanisms when something unexpected comes along. That is our job, teaching our kids skillsets that help them to fly and stand on their own two feet.
Perhaps that's why all the rice and pasta are flying off the shelves as they're the most economical way to feed a large family. Keep healthy and buy real food, whole food, fresh food, to keep core strength to fight off viruses and suchlike, and keep the tins like sardines and baked beans for emergencies when you don't have the energy or are too unwell to cook. Cooking doesn't have to be a long song and dance in times of stress. Even for those who don't know how to cook, washing and throwing a few vegetables in the microwave to cook and a piece of protein in a pan will ensure you have a meal on your plate.
You can do a lot with a $6.99 two kilo pack of chicken drumsticks for instance from Aldi. Add potatoes and vegetables and make a huge stew or curry, and count down the savings as you spoon out each serve to see how many meals you got out of that total expense by dividing the meals from dollars. Buy when things are on special for further savings and eat seasonally to not pay the exorbitant prices for eating out of season. Lentils and legumes are also good healthy fillers that keep the cost of meals down. With a 1 kilo pack of red lentils for around $2.99, you can make a big pot of Indian dhal or an Italian style thick soup to go with a bit of protein and rice to pour over. Buying that pack of 4 strips of salmon with skin on at $12-$13 for two to share with a couple of baby broccoli and carrots as vegetables is still under $20 for two and far cheaper than eating out as a special occasion meal.
Get creative to serve up that healthy meal at a minimal cost. It's a good time for a family to make things together to brighten up a room. Who has that dad or mum who's great with their hands and have a set of carpentry skills? Who doesn't love a treehouse? Swiss Family Robinson was an all-time favourite of mine for its magnificent treehouse that set imaginations on fire. Let's dream and go big dolls house aka small tiny house in the backyard for the kids to have fun and practice tiny living and making a smaller footprint on our fragile earth? Perhaps kids can have fun learning how to work on small projects making simple pallet furniture.
Taking things down a notch and coming back to earth, there are lots of creative and pretty projects a family can make together to pretty up personal spaces. Making paper bead curtains can be a lot of fun. Old colourful magazines pages are perfect for recycling into paper beads. If you're clearing house while you have the time, it could be a fun time for creative recycling, upcycling and repurposing. Make a few t-shirt tote bags to replace plastics for your shopping. Can't sew, no worries, you can still make a no-sew tote bag for shopping.
Sticking with what's already around the house, before you throw it in the bin, old books make good craft projects. Pinterest always has great ideas to browse through, to help you make something new and beautiful out of what you would have thrown away. From knife blocks to hidden storage, there's lots of fun things to do with old books; even lampshades. Google is your friend and will lead you to most anything you can dream up to ask it in DIY projects.
Cardboard boxes are something we have around the house at some point or the other from flatpack furniture, or shoe boxes. What a great way to let the kids imagination run free. There are toys and all sorts to be made, limited only by your imagination. Glass jars and bottles are things we tend to collect around the house too. There's lots of ideas on how to repurpose them into beautiful things or pretty up to fill with lollies/candy/chocolates, fairy lights, bath bombs, pickles etc to give as gifts. Don't give the old nuts and bolts in dad's workbox a miss either. They can be made into some pretty bad-assed jewellery with that industrial look. You'll find a few ideas on Etsy and Pinterest. If you're cleaning house during this down time, just look around and see how you can make something creative together while you stay safe, keep others safe and stay indoors.