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Pandemic Parenting: Finding the Fun

Young black woman wearing a pink shirt, smiling and dancing while wearing headphones.

Remember fun? What was your fun before the pandemic fell upon all of us? Was it outdoors? Was it with a big group of friends? Has your fun been disrupted, put on hold, or cancelled entirely? Are you just not finding fun at all while sheltering in place? Fun is allusive during these times of high stress and worry. Are we even “allowed” to have fun right now, knowing that hundreds of thousands in our country and around the world are sick and dying? I confessed to my partner recently that I felt guilty wanting to go out to get a cup of coffee, something that truly brings me joy. My mind asked, rather judgmentally I might add, “Is it ESSENTIAL that you need a coffee made by someone else?” That word “essential” has driven a lot of my decision-making recently and it immediately sends me into guilt territory when I come across something fun that I want to do. My partner reminded me that I still need to have fun and I deserve to do something nice for myself. While it feels like all of us are in survival mode, we have to allow ourselves to live, too. I needed that reminder, and maybe you do, too.

So, here’s the big question: where is the fun now? If you derive fun from projects, there is no end to pandemic project ideas right now: from sourdough starters, to learning a new language, to crafting of all sorts. But maybe your fun doesn’t come from projects? Maybe you're looking for something you can fit into an evening after the kids have gone to bed, or something you can cram into a lunch break, or you’re looking for something fun on the cheap? Whatever your motivations or wherever you find your fun, here are some things I found where you might find some fun that you might even forget you're sheltering in place, if only for a little bit.

Disclaimer: the fun activities suggested below are not necessarily fun for or with the family. Plenty has already been written on this site and others about how to have fun as a family and engage with your child(ren) right now. No, this is about finding YOUR fun. Nothing mentioned here is explicit or “adult” in nature, simply fun for you as an adult person and parent while still sheltering in place.

A group of women wearing the same style of dress in different vibrant colors sit together looking pensive in different directions, while an older man with glasses and khaki cardigan looks on from the background.
New York's Metropolitan Opera offers a different opera to stream each night.

For the Theater Lovers 

National Theater at Home: San Jose’s own Hammer Theater, located in the heart of downtown San Jose, is partnering with National Theater Live to provide limited streamings of a variety of plays and musicals via YouTube. The link provides a list of performances and when the recordings will be available to stream for free. Don on your favorite theater-going attire, grab a glass of bubbles from the kitchen, and settle in for a fantastic show.

The Metropolitan Opera: New York City's world-renowned opera company is also getting in on the streaming action and offering a nightly opera to stream at home. Seeing shows of this caliber used to come with a high price, but now they’re free (although donations are greatly appreciated) and you can enjoy them without even attempting to tie a bow tie, nor will you need your opera glasses to see the stage. A great opportunity for those who also find fun through travel!

A variety of book, movie, and music album covers helping advertise Hoopla's Bonus Borrows program.
Hoopla Bonus Borrows titles can be checked out and not counted toward your total borrowed titles allowing you to read, watch, and listen to more!

For the Film and TV Buffs

Netflix Party: Film and movie content abounds online through more streaming services than you can count on two hands. But! What if you wanted to get a few friends and watch a movie together? Behold Netflix Party! Netflix Party is a browser extension (specifically for Chrome) that allows multiple people to log on and watch a movie through Netflix together. Viewing is synchronized and there is a chat feature for folks to talk (quietly) throughout the movie or show. Pop that popcorn and keep that cooler next to your couch stocked and you and yours can binge like the days of old!

Hoopla Digital: Of course, always free with your SJPL Library Card (including your SJPL eLibrary Card), is Hoopla’s large collection of movies and TV shows available to stream at home and on your personal device. If you have just a little technological knowhow, you can even stream what you’re watching with your friends and family using the videoconferencing software of your choice. Look out for Hoopla’s Bonus Borrows titles, which do not count against your borrowing limits! 

Illustration of two people excitedly playing cards and board games together.
PlayingCards.io offers a variety favorite card and simple board games to play online with friends and family!

For the Gamers

Gaming online is old-hat for many video gamers, however some of the live co-op and group games that are shared in-person require some tweaking if you want to play them while physically distancing from friends and family outside your home. Jackbox Game developers created a number of tutorials for how you can keep playing their games via videoconferencing and YouTube broadcasting. If you miss sitting around a table and playing your favorite games with your friends and family, there are a handful of resources to keep the dice rolling. Some friends of mine got together the other evening to play an online non-licensed version of Cards Against Humanity via a site called PlayingCards.IO. PlayingCards.io has a number of classic card and board games you can play online together, as well as providing the option of inputting and designing how to play your own favorites, too. The interface is simple and easy to pick up. Lastly, I learned from a teen librarian about Tabletopia for those die-hard tabletop gaming fanatics. Host a game and either invite your own friends and family to play, or join a live game happening on the spot and make new friends!

A screen capture of the resource RB Digital and its collection of Audubon Magazine issues with a variety of magazine covers each featuring striking photos of different birds.
RB Digital is a great resource to catch up with your favorite magazines, including Audubon Magazine for bird lovers!

For the Nature Nuts

Audubon Magazine: While California has updated their extremely specific list of acceptable outdoor activities, there is plenty of nature to be had while at home. Birdwatching has started seeing a come up in the last month and it’s a perfect activity when flying solo: it’s quiet, reflective, calm, and you can even do it while living in a city. Your San Jose Library Card gives you access to current and back issues of Audubon Magazine, to help you identify those birds keeping you awake at night. Similarly, your SJPL Library Card grants you access to a hundred-plus years of National Geographic Magazine, too. Take notes and add to your bucket list all the things you want to do and see for when you're finally out in the true thick of nature!

For the Library Lovers

Of course we would love for you to find your fun with the Library! SJPL has a calendar teeming with virtual programs and events, with more being added each week, that will certainly appeal to whatever fun you’re interested in having. Browse our Events page for a variety of online book clubs, gaming events, and film clubs just waiting for you to join.

How have you been finding your fun while staying at home?

Blog Category
Adult Fiction
Adult Nonfiction
Stage and Screen

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