10 Things That Bring Me Joy When I Can’t Leave Home

2020 has been quite a trip so far! Although it’s just barely half over (and we still have SO FAR to go), it feels like an eternity in some ways. Our family has spent most of our time at home since March, as I know so many of you have as well. We do have some parks to visit and the occasional drive-thru treats, but for the most part, we’re just home. I remember in March thinking that I’d never stayed home for more than a few days without leaving—now it’s our new normal.

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to eating at restaurants and having playdates and flying as much as anyone. I’m not trying to sugarcoat how extremely difficult this year has been. What I am trying to do, mostly internally, is to make the most of it!

Since our time at home currently has no end in sight, I’ve been thinking towards the fall and holidays, trying to get my brain around how different things might be this year. I’m also working to embrace this time by doing things that are helpful for me, which is staying busy with projects and distractions as much as possible. I hope this post is helpful and I would LOVE to hear some of the things that are bringing you joy as you continue to stay home.

1. Organizing

At the risk of sounding extremely cliché, organizing my home makes me feel like my brain is somehow more organized as well. It’s extremely therapeutic for me to take a messy space and make it nicely organized. There have been many times when a little organizing project has somehow created mental space for me, in addition to physical. It’s a helpful way for me to feel more at home and more at peace with my surroundings.

2. The Outdoors

I haven’t been one of those people who has worked out every day in quarantine. In fact, for the most part, I haven’t been consistent in any type of physical activity besides watching little kids (which is extremely consistent, haha). However, what I have done is go outside. It’s been extremely helpful to me to take walks outside or sit on the porch to have my coffee. Even walking to our mailbox has felt like a treat and a chance to breathe fresh air. Being outside is an instant mood lifter!

3. Making Stuff

Little projects, whether with my children or for my children, have been incredibly helpful for me. One positive thing 2020 has taught me so far is that I love to make things! I love making things that have no purpose—just for fun. Currently I’m making holiday ornaments with my girls every day. It’s something that really, we don’t NEED to be doing in July, but it’s bringing me joy during a challenging time. I find that sometimes when I am overwhelmed keeping my hands busy is helpful. Also crying—haha. Crying always helps. I love to cry!

4. Food

I probably don’t need to tell you how incredibly helpful good food can be in pretty much every season of our lives. It’s a great time to try a dish over and over—I’ve made so many variations on noodle dishes for our girls (their favorite) and I finally feel like I have a few that are keepers. It’s a small thing, but I value feeling productive, so testing out recipes and honing our favorites is something fun that I look forward to.

5. Family Movie Night

We just started an official Sunday night tradition of family movie night. Last week, we watched The Parent Trap (the 1998 version—I love them both, though!) and now I’m so excited to continue sharing movies from my childhood with my little girls. It’s so special and it’s something to look forward to every week!

6. Guilty Pleasure TV

I’m currently watching The OC (for the first time). It’s so bad … it’s horrible actually! But it’s bringing me a smile at the end of every marathon day and a way to connect with my husband. I look forward to our “bad TV” before bed, so I guess it’s fulfilling a need right now. So I say—embrace all the guilty pleasures you can!

7. Loungewear and PJs

I definitely miss wearing “real clothes,” though I am not one of those people who is going to put on a jumpsuit and heels just to hang out at home. Although I occasionally put one on just for a minute!

For the most part, I’m living life in a rotation of yoga pants, cozy pjs and the occasional comfy dress. I don’t think I’ve worn any shoes besides Vans and Birkenstocks since March. It’s so funny.

That said, comfy clothes are definitely bringing me a LOT of joy! For the rest of 2020, I will only be adding comfy clothes to my closet since that’s what is getting a lot of mileage right now!

8. Books

I’ve become super into listening to audiobooks. I use the Libby App, which you can use for free as long as you have a public library card. You do have to wait for books in a queue, but it’s completely worth it in my opinion and I reserve so many books that there’s always one available to listen to. My favorite book I’ve listened to this year is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. What I am currently listening to is The Danish Way Of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander.

If you prefer physical books, I recommend The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. I have it at my beside table right now and it’s really perfect for when you need a pep talk and motivation!

9. Decorating My Home

Few things bring me more comfort and joy than planning a space and decorating it! When we first started to stay at home in March, I noticed right away that our hardware store was WAY more busy than normal. It got to the point for a while where we wouldn’t got there unless it was a weekday because it was so ridiculously busy. But I totally get why! Completing a home project, whether it’s landscaping or painting a room (or painting some cabinets) is so incredibly fulfilling!

Planning and completing projects is probably the number one thing that brings me joy in our home, well besides snuggling our babies. So for the rest of 2020 and however long we feel safer at home, I’m going to have a continual list of projects in the works!

10. Resetting my Expectations

On a practical note, this is probably the most helpful things I’ve done in 2020. I’ve lowered my standards on really almost everything. It helped! Honestly, I don’t need to run a half marathon this year—I don’t need to finish my side project and I definitely do not need to compare myself to other moms on the internet.

What I actually need is to drink more water and go outside and hide my phone while I’m playing with my kids. Other things can wait. This year is physically and mentally exhausting. I don’t see anything wrong with lowering the bar. 🙂

OK, it’s your turn!!! I’d love to hear what is bringing you joy!! Please tell me everything! xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Kelly. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.