If you’re now at home and are usually not, you’ve just been given a gift of several hours back in your day. Here are some great ways to make the most of this gift of time:

Embroidery Lavender


Remember all those items you purchased to make or repair something but you never have had a chance to do? Maybe there was a skill you wanted to learn or a recipe you wanted to try. Chances are you have a number of untried ideas saved up on Pinterest. Now is a great time to do those things.

  1. Make the projects for which you already purchased supplies but never have had time to get around to actually making.
  2. Make home repairs with the items you already purchased to do these repairs.
  3. Mend clothing that needs to be fixed.
  4. Learn a new skill using a video found online, either on YouTube or via an online course. Have you been wanting to learn to watercolor? Anna Mason has beautiful videos on her YouTube channel. You can start with the children’s watercolors you likely already have at home and computer paper, or order some online. Learn floral arranging, improve your photography, learn to embroider, learn calligraphy, etc. If you need supplies, you can order them online.
  5. Practice a foreign language or start learning one using free online sources.
  6. Plant a garden if the weather is right. You can order seeds, bulbs, and started plants online. If it’s still too cold, plan out a garden for this year. My favorite place for vegetable seeds is Territorial Seed Company. For flower seeds, I like Wildseed Farms, Outside Pride, and Eden Brothers. For roses, I love David Austin Roses (they have online stores in multiple countries around the world). For fall-planted bulbs, my favorite place is Van Engelen (they take orders in June and ship in fall). I typically buy fruit trees and plants at my local nursery, but this year, you may want/need to buy them online. If you haven’t yet pruned or fertilized your garden, now is a good time to do so.
  7. Order your family photos that you have been putting off because life has been busy. Have them shipped to you and hang them in frames you already have, or order canvases and hang them right on the wall.
  8. Learn how to make bread. There’s never been a better time. You can probably still have flour, salt, and yeast delivered to your house if you can’t go to the store.
  9. Teach your children a skill. Teach them how to cook something, how to make a repair, how to do a new hairstyle, how to properly clean something, how to sew on a button, or anything else that you think would make them better prepared to be an adult but that you just haven’t had time to fit into your life.
  10. Learn how to cut hair at home. A good set of clippers and scissors can be purchased online and you can watch videos online. They will easily pay for themselves within a few months.
French Script Apron Detail The Prudent Homemaker

Spring Cleaning:

Most of these jobs can be done with dish soap, water, and rags (Don’t have cleaning rags? Cut up an old t-shirt that was headed for the trash). Have your children help you and teach them how these jobs are done so that they’ll be prepared to do them on their own when they move out.

  1. Wash the doors, door handles, door frames, walls, and baseboards in your home.
  2. Wash out the trashcans in the house.
  3. Clean out your car: vacuum it, wipe it down, wash the car seat covers, and wash the outside.
  4. Wash the windows and windowsills in your home.
  5. Clean your oven; run a clean cycle or use oven cleaner you already have on hand.
  6. Clean your dishwasher. Empty the filter on the bottom, clean the seals and edges, and wipe the whole thing down.
  7. Clean your electronic devices: phones, tablets, computers, keyboards, etc.
  8. Dust the tops of furniture such as tall bookcases (or the tops of your kitchen cabinets) that you rarely get to.
  9. Clean out and wipe down your kitchen and bathroom cupboards.
  10. Clean your sink and bathtub drains.
  11. Clean under the beds and couches (and underneath the cushions!)
  12. Wash and dry all bedding in the house.
  13. Clean out your refrigerator.
  14. Dust the picture frames, the lampshades, the ceiling fans, etc.
  15. Wash the light fixtures.
  16. Sweep the driveway and the patio.
David Austin Roses The Prudent Homemaker


  1. Organize your clothes and put aside anything you’re not using to donate or hold a future garage sale.
  2. Go through your kitchen cabinets and get rid of anything you haven’t used in the last year to add to your donate/sell items.
  3. Organize your children’s clothing and make a list on your phone of what you actually need to purchase this year. This will help you to not overbuy.
  4. Tidy your garage.
  5. Clean out your email and unsubscribe to anything you find you haven’t been opening.
  6. Set up online pay for anything that doesn’t already have that option.
  7. File your taxes if you haven’t already.
  8. Tidy your computer and back up your photos online or to an external hard drive or two.
  9. Organize your desk.
  10. Organize your pantry.
  11. Make master grocery shopping lists for each store you shop at in the order you go through the store. I use the free Evernote app for this, but you can use anything, including Google Sheets I simply put a checklist next to each item I need when we’re running low, and when I go to the store, I remove those check marks as I go to the store.
  12. Make a budget if you don’t have one, and go over your budget for the next few months if you do. Staying home means less gas used and no eating out–savings that will be helpful to cover bills if you’re not making any money right now.
Thrift Store Skirt Refashion The Prudent Homemaker


  1. Read the books you already purchased but just haven’t had time to read.
  2. Check out e-books from your local library to read on your phone or tablet. In the U.S., most libraries use the free Libby app to allow you to read on any device.
  3. Use YouTube for something to watch. We find plenty to watch on YouTube without having any kind of subscription service. The Farm series are particularly interesting; check out “Wartime Farm” first, a particularly interesting perspective on making do that is relevant now. For young children, we like Rolie Polie Olie, The Backyardigans, Octonauts, Ben and Holly, Peppa Pig, and Peep and The Big Wide World.
  4. Play games with your family. Our favorites include Hand and Foot (played with several decks of cards), Ticket to Ride, Catan, Sequence, and Spy Alley.
  5. Play in the backyard with your family, or simply sit outside (or open your windows) and listen to the birds singing and the bees buzzing. A woman in Wuhan, China, recently said how much she has enjoyed listening to the birds from her 25th-floor apartment. She never heard them before above the noise of the city, but now, she has heard them singing and heard the sound of their wings flapping,
  6. Check out the stars at night. You can download an app to help you learn the constellations that are visible in the sky right now where you live.
  7. Do some art projects! Learn to draw, paint, sculpt, etc. Make some play clay for your children. Print some coloring pages of their favorite characters. I have a list of my favorite art books here.
  8. Watch tutorials for new hairstyles and try them out on each other.
  9. Read to your children. Teach a young child how to read; I have used this book to teach my children to read. It goes through a fourth-grade level.
  10. Depending on where you live, you may be able to go outside without coming into close contact with people. Go for bike rides, go hiking, or simply go for a walk.
  11. Exercise using online workout videos.
  12. Put on some music and dance! Learn some new dances online with your family.

Don’t forget to spend some time alone with your spouse after the children are in bed! You can play a game together, watch a movie, or even work on your taxes together 🙂

A few additional resources:

Two Weeks of Pantry Meals Using items only in your pantry

How to Eat Beans Every Night

Date Nights at Home

Homeschool Resources

Bread and Cracker Recipes

Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through my links. This means that I earn a small percentage from any items you place in your cart and purchase within 24 hours after going to Amazon from one of my links (i.e., it doesn’t have to be an item I have linked here). If you’re going to be making a purchase from Amazon this week, I thank you for using my links to support this site!

Similar Posts


    1. Brandy I love reading your post – how do you organize your self and home? Do you input everything on your phone or do you use a 3 ring binder, etc? I would love to see how you accomplish so many wonderful things!

      1. What type of organization are your asking about specifically? My grocery shopping lists are on my phone. My garage sale lists are on my phone with what we need (upcoming clothing sizes for the family). My birthday and Christmas lists are on my phone.
        My budget is on Google Sheets, which I can access via my phone or my computer. I don’t use a 3-ring binder for anything.

  1. I have seen several of these lists of items to do while at home in the next few weeks but yours is the best I have seen. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you Theresa! I’m used to being home pretty much all the time, and I get lots done that way!

  2. Hi Brandy,

    I’ve admired your embroidery for years and now I just discovered that embroidery is becoming a trendy hobby again. Now I can find starter kits and hopefully grow in my skill. 🙂

  3. Thank you for these ideas! I’ve just made a master grocery and household list on Evernote per your suggestion.
    Do you have any suggestions for budgeting programs? Or, just old-fashioned paper and pencil?


    1. Hi Cari! I made myself a spreadsheet in Google Docs. I have a master list on the left column (with the highest utility prices for the year in that column), then a column with dates, then an empty column, then I have the next three months each in a column. I copy over the master list from the left-hand column and adjust utilities and quarterly bills as needed. As I pay a bill, I delete the amount from the column for that month. I can see what I have left for the month from there.

  4. I just started some journal pages for my experiences during this time. This morning when we discovered that the library was closed, we drove the north fork of the Shoshone river to the East entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The entrance won’t open for about a month because the snow is being plowed. This is a beautiful scenic drive with a reservoir, the river, hoodoos (twisting rock formations), and mountains. Today there was snow but the road was completely dry. We saw elk, bison, big horn sheep, mule deer and birds.

  5. What a great list! I appreciate this. I also wanted to express my gratitude for your site in general. It has helped me to feel so much more prepared for our current world situation. I loved the “Wartime Farm” series on YouTube! I’d like to recommend the various “House” series, if you haven’t seen them – my favorite is “1940’s House.” Thanks again!

  6. I made a list yesterday so this was perfect! You’ve given me some more ideas that are very helpful! As i’ve gotten older, i can feel my energy ebbing. I need this extra boost to get me motivated.

  7. I, too, want to compliment you on this list! When I have read lists at other frugal sites, I have wondered why they didn’t include more productive ideas, such as home repairs, etc. You did! My favorite: teach a child to read! (I wish I had a child to teach). We are going to our vacation home this weekend to do a good spring cleaning!

    PS When we visit the relatives in Phoenix (was that only two weeks ago), I play a lot of Texas Canasta, which is a version of hand and foot. Great game!

  8. Great post, Brandy! We are also trying to make something positive of this unusual time. We live in the county in PA with the most cases, we are not supposed to go out and do anything except for grocery, gas, or health needs. But the children are enjoying having daddy home (and working, we are blessed), we are planting the garden, playing outside, learning new things. Not being able to go to church is a big sorrow and leaves a lot of extra time, we should try to use it well. Thank you for being so encouraging. I am a long time reader, and I am much better prepared, both physically and mentally, thanks to your help.

  9. Great ideas, Brandy!
    I live in a condo which is normally the perfect size for my family, but with my husband working from home and tele/video conferencing almost the entire day in our main living area, it’s been hard to keep my active toddler quiet and not trying to play with papa when we’re all in the same roughly 500 sq foot room. So I researched/put together a list of things I can do with her and taped it to a kitchen wall, to remind me of things we can do together. I’ll share a few of them here, in case any other parents of young toddlers would find them handy:
    – play with chalk on the sidewalk (away from other kids/people)
    – make and play with playdough
    – use painter’s tape to create a highway system on the carpet
    – use painter’s tape to tape empty toilet paper rolls to the wall, and drop pompoms through them
    – playing with soapy water in a bucket in the kitchen (tile floor, so spills easily wiped up)
    – dance party (this is for when my husband takes a break, so I can turn the music on and get my daughter to expend some energy)
    – tea party with water (it’ll likely spill, but that’s ok, water dries)
    – make a dry painting bag to tape to the floor for mess-free painting (paint in a ziploc bag, taped to the floor)
    – window clings (remove, save, and bring out another time, to keep it as a ‘fresh’ game)
    – wrap toys that she hasn’t seen in a while, to unwrap
    – create a bird feeder using an empty toilet paper roll, peanut butter, and bird seed
    And so on. Everything I need for these activities, I’ve been able to get at the dollar store inexpensively, or I already had at home. I know there are also lots on online educational subscriptions that are now being made available for free (temporarily) as well, everything from children’s yoga to math sites. We’ll all get through this together!

    1. I do feel sorry for those with young children at home – and then adults having to work from home – it’s going to be stressful. I live in a 550 sq. foot apt. but its just me so not an issue – although a balcony would be nice. Still, I have a nice view from my kitchen and living room windows onto a wooded conservation area (by the Humber River) so at least I get to see some nature – I’ve heard flocks of geese flying over for the past couple of days. I’m going to go out for a walk this weekend when it’s supposed to be sunny but cold – I can walk along the river with just a few dog walkers for “distant” company.

      My office closed down yesterday so I’m at home until at least March 31st – but more likely April 13th. I work for a church and they don’t want us to open over Easter as the number at service could easily be more than 300 or 400 so not going to happen. I may have to pop in for a few hours here or there but I’d probably go on a Sunday when its quieter downtown anyway. Everyone was sitting well aware from each other on the subway home so people are doing their best.

      I hope things don’ get too hectic for you Margaret.

  10. I actually successfully made bread for the first time this weekend. And now the stores are out of flour!

  11. Brandy,
    I really like this article. Thank-you for the ideas! Today I had my grandchildren build a fort with blankets and they played and read books in them.

  12. Thank you for this lovely list! I plan to share it on my blog Facebook Page and in my round up of encouraging resources I’m planning for this week. Beautiful photography, as always. And I definitely need to purchase some embroidery supplies and try my hand at that beautiful thistle you embroidered!

  13. Brandy,
    Thank you so much for the very thoughtful list.
    I live in Washington State and most everything is closed and people are told to remain at home so this list is very helpful. I plan to do some knitting. I hope to gets lots of yard work accomplished. I think this could go on for awhile so I will greatly appreciate my time with this community of awesome people. Please everyone share more ideas as time goes on and we come up with new things to do.

  14. I’ve seen a way to organize to-do lists as a grid of Important and Urgent, supposedly used by General Eisenhower:
    Important and Urgent, or
    Not Important but Urgent, or
    Not Urgent but Important, or
    Not Urgent and Not Important.

    This might be time to work on some of those “Not Urgent but Important” tasks, like reviewing life insurance policies, changing furnace filters, scrubbing empty flower pots just in case they have fungus, etc. Consider some of those hard conversations, even if just in draft form, about making wills, deciding who to bequeath items to, what kind of funeral service you wish for, and other documents to put away, hopefully not needed for decades into the future!

  15. You did a great job making this list.

    I’m much different from most people. Instead of feeling sad that we were told to stay home this weekend, I was delighted! I felt so excited, not for the fact that people were sick of course, but for my opportunity to get some things done that usually get pushed aside with daily chores. I’m sure I will feel differently when this virus wanes. I started a huge project on Friday night– completely organizing my food stockpile shelves, and putting away the new food that has been purchased during the past 3 weeks in big containers. I worked for hours all weekend, and now it’s done. I know where things are now. The other thing I did was buy some more fabric on a very good sale, and I also planned out several projects from things I had. I started sewing a new nightgown for my daughter.

    Today, I started homeschooling my nephew. So, I’m not going to suffer for projects, but it’s very nice to read lists and ideas from others.

  16. I thought we could all use a little laugh…
    I went to the grocery store while my husband had a minor medical procedure (I decided if I was going to get exposed, I’d rather it happened at the grocery store than a waiting room). The woman ahead of me was buying a can of oven cleaner. She held it up and said, “I figure if I am going to be stuck at home, I might as well clean the oven. I hope one can is enough!”

    The other thing I thought when I saw the cleared shelves of dry beans and rice was that some of these folks might use the extra time to actually learn to cook beans! On a more serious note, I think this would be an excellent time for adults who say they don’t know how to cook, to learn. And a great time for parents or grandparents to teach teenagers and older children to cook…and not just chocolate chip cookies, but entire meals.

  17. I have been putting off giving my car a thorough clean inside and out and now there is no excuse. The greenhouse needs emptying, tidying and cleaning too. I’m ashamed to say there are a couple of manuals ( how to fully understand the underfloor heating etc) that I have skimmed through and not read properly so I can do that now. I am going to use my craft stash to plan and make greeting cards well ahead of time, maybe even Christmas cards. Thank you for the list Brandy – I’m sure we will all have further ideas to share as time passes. Good luck everyone.

  18. Brandy, I wanted to thank you for your suggestion of watching Wartime Farm. My kids and I just spent a very enjoyable hour on the first episode. We had watched Victorian Slum on PBS a few years ago and this reminded us of that program.

  19. Another suggestion is to organize the pictures on your smart phone, if you have one. I have over 3,000 on my phone and I am starting to go through them and put them in albums. Please note that I have way too many pictures of my 3 cats and way too many downloaded sarcastic and political memes.

    I’m also organizing my internet Favorites fo lo der on my phone into albums such as E Gift Cards, News and Politics Frugal Living, Home Repairs and How-Tos, etc. They are a lot easier to locate that way.

    1. Thank you for the reminder about pix on the smart phone…I have too many and MUST download them! Good time to do it. (Of course I have ZERO pictures of my two dogs and no snarky memes whatsoever…and if you believe that I have a bridge I can sell you cheap…)

  20. To the reader who posted her intention of looking for positive things to appreciate each day, thank you. In the midst of chaos and headlines that change every few minutes, this is not always easy. But I agree it is very necessary. In that spirit:
    My 80-year-old mother took note of the headlines, consulted her doctor, stocked up on necessary items, and self-quarantined before it was being called for or enforced. She is, so far, healthy and in good spirits. God willing she will stay that way!
    She told me a story I had never heard before, about a time when her older brother contracted scarlet fever and her home (a rural farm) was quarantined. She said in some ways this situation took her back to those days, when her mother would make his meals, then boil every dish before preparing meals for the rest of the family. She herself would sit on the bottom stair and read loudly to her brother upstairs (“Probably Dick and Jane, and he probably prayed to get well so I’d stop…”). She remembered what a day of rejoicing it was when the health inspector came and removed the quarantine sign from their door.
    Thank goodness for the ability to be in touch with family and friends, via phone, FaceTime (etc), text.
    My husband already worked from home so we had few adjustments to make.
    Silly/lighthearted: I have a large collection of kitchen towels, souvenirs from my own trips and gifts people have given me. My family knows that my favorite present or memento is a fun tea towel – I always say, “I get to think of the person who gave it to me, every time I use it!” I’ve even been known to take a picture and text it to someone, saying, “Thinking of you as I dry dishes!” Since I’m doing lots of cooking, dish-washing/-drying, and of course hand-washing, I’m thinking of lots of friends and family, and remembering many lovely travels!
    Stay strong, safe, and healthy, dear friends.

  21. Oh Ava – one of my brother’s contracted Scarlet Fever when I was around 14 – we were a family of 5 kids and we were all called down to the principals office where my dad waited to take us home. The quarantine notice was put on our door – we were all given some meds to take and my brother was isolated in a room by himself with only my mother going in to look after him – and yes, everything was boiled and sterilized and we were kept far away.

    There was no vaccine at the time and there had been a few cases in the city so this was all you could do. My brother has had some heart problems as a result of this childhood disease and this is the problem with Covid-19 even for those who survive, or seem to have a relatively mild case – who knows what the longterm effects could be.

  22. Brandy,
    I want to thank you and tell you that you have helped me so much during this terrible time. Nine days ago the church where I work discovered we had a Covid outbreak in the congregation. We immediately closed the church. Since I’d likely been exposed, I called my husband and asked him to come home from work, and I raced to pull my kids from school to begin a self quarantine. We had no time to prepare or plan. I want to keep people safe so I didn’t stop by any stores. I just got the kids and went home. Do you remember the world nine days ago? Kids were still in school, food was still in stores and my state didn’t have a “shelter in place” order. We have been symptom-free for nine days, but have no way of knowing if we are asymptotic carriers. Because of all your wonderful posts I have food grade buckets full of food and a plentiful pantry. In the past nine days people I respected and loved have died. It is a terrible time for my family and my church. But I know I can feed my family and do my small part to protect those around me by continuing to stay home. Having enough food on hand is a huge blessing and allows me to focus on other things that matter more. Thank you for teaching me the wisdom of always being prepared with a well stocked pantry.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing. And thank you for going home straight away with your family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *