Right now is a really challenging time for everyone. The news changes on a daily basis and stress levels continue to rise. We don't know for certain how things will end or what our new normal will be, but as we continue to stay indoors and work from home while taking care of kids, it's important to find time to do things we love.
Our single most important piece of advice to share with mamas is to continue to enjoy life while protecting others. Just because social distancing is in full effect, it doesn't mean your time indoors is doomed.
1. Have a music session
In need of a free music session? Jam with Jamie is using its platform to bring people together through the magic of music. Enjoy virtual jam sessions for kids—both live streams and pre-recorded classes and other surprises from their talented performers across the nation.
2. Take a trip to the Zoo
The Cincinnati Zoo may be closed to the public at the moment, but it's open online for animal-lovers. The new program, "Home Safari Facebook Live," is a Facebook live segment that shows viewers how zoologists care for animals at the zoo. Log on weekdays at 3 pm.
3. Read a book with an author
Frozen actor Josh Gad is tucking kids in at night with bedtime stories. Every night the actor is reading to little ones on Twitter. "I'll try to provide at least 10 minutes of day care to you and your families a night while we're going through this unprecedented global event," said the father of two. Also, Mac Barnett, author of The Magic World and How This Book Was Made is reading picture books to kids each weekday starting at noon pacific time.
4. Have virtual play dates with grandma
Caribu, a video-calling app, is offering free services with unlimited access during this time. Create an account to enjoy stories, games and even coloring activities during a video call with friends and family.
5. Take a Disney ride + class
While hoping on a Disney ride is out of the question, little ones (and you too, mama) can enjoy YouTube videos of the experience. To be fair, it's not quite the real thing, but if you zoom in and place yourself there, you can truly enjoy the moment. Our favorite virtual rides include Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Frozen Ride and Mystic Manor.
If you're still craving the Disney experience, you can learn to draw your favorite characters at home. Disney recently compiled a list of free drawing classes taught by Disney artists and animators. Here's to finally learning to draw Mickey and Elsa!
6. Draw with Mo Willems
Mo Willems, the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence, is offering free lunch doodle sessions as he guides you through drawing activities using one of his favorite characters as inspiration. "When I became the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence, I didn't realize the most impactful word in that title would be," he says. "With millions of learners attempting to grow and educate themselves in new circumstances, I have decided to invite everyone into my studio once a day for the next few weeks." We love it!
7. Listen to Opera
If you're into opera, you're in luck. The Metropolitan Opera will be streaming presentations from its Live in HD series on the company website and will continue to do so until it opens to the public. "We'd like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times," said Met General Manager Peter Gelb.
8. Take a fitness class
Stay strong and healthy during the outbreak for free with Tone It Up. New members can enjoy free on-demand fitness training, including live classes and 10 to 40-minute workout videos for the first month. Still need a bit more? Head to Peloton App for a free 90-day subscription trial for its at-home workout app. No, it's not the Peloton bike, but you'll enjoy a host of yoga, stretching, strength training, and other classes that are just as good.
9. Listen to poetry
Next Sunday and every weekend moving forward, Bowery Poetry will livestream their "No Desk Poetry Concert" from 4 pm to 7 pm on its Instagram feed. "We'll live stream & 'pass the mic' from person to person, from the safety of our homes! We will oblige the social distance suggestions and use our poems to connect," they said.
10. Try a cooking class
Delish launched an Instagram Live series teaching mamas and kids super fun and easy recipes they can make together as an indoors activity. The session is hosted by editorial director Jo Saltz and her own children, and features kid friendly recipes with a Delish twist such as pizza waffles and puppy chow. Episodes will air each weekday at 1:00pm ET and last 15-20 minutes.
11. Learn a new language
Duolingo is a free online language learning program that's built to feel like a game. Users can learn over 30 languages as they compete with each other as they learn. Lessons are "bite-sized" which means they can be picked up in 5 minutes at a time.
12. Stream free stories
Who doesn't love a free audiobook? For as long as schools are closed, Audible will allow you to stream kid stories, including titles across six different languages. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
13. Quilt a blanket
The American Quilter's Society (AQS), provides online quilting classes on their iquilt platform, which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home via computer or smartphone. AQS is now offering a promotion code, which provides users with one free online class of their choosing. To redeem, enter "IQUILTFREE" at checkout. Imagine all of the t-shirt quilts you can make with your old t-shirts!
14. Enjoy a singalong
Sing along with Celeste Cortright, author of The More We Get Together, and learn ways to "get together" from a distance with Barefoot Books.
15. Watch the northern lights
Explore.org and Polar Bears International are live streaming the northern lights from the Churchill Northern Studies Center in Manitoba, Canada. Tune in during the darkest hours of the night (about 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. EDT) to experience the lights and a scientific overview.
16. Take a Taekwondo class
Preschoolers (and you too, mama) will enjoy short lessons taught by Excel Taekwondo on Korean martial art, characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks and fast kicking techniques.
17. Read with role models
Ready to give your kids a new reading experience? Beginning Tuesday, March 31, Hullabaloo Book Company in partnership with Chronicle Kids Books, will have leaders like doctors, pilots, firefighter, biologist, and many more read children's books that feature lessons on kindness, bravery, emotional intelligence, STEM, imagination and cultural awareness. Join them every Tuesday and Thursday at 3pm EST at hullabaloobookco.com.