At time of writing, Emmy and I have already been in self-isolation for about 6 weeks now, with at least another 3 to go (for those of us living in Victoria). Putting our creativity and resourcefulness to work, we’re doing pretty well with keeping ourselves occupied. If you’re facing a similar situation with your partner and need to shake things up a bit, here are a few skills you can work on — together — to make your time in self-isolation more fun and productive:
Learn a language together
Being multilingual has tons of benefits. These can range from improved cognitive ability to having way more options when it comes to movie night. There are plenty of ways to learn a new language these days, including apps, Skype tutoring, books and online courses. While paid services are often more personalised, there are plenty of free options that can be just as effective (and often more fun!). Learning with your partner can help improve your retention. It also gives you an opportunity to practice your skills with another person. If you’re the competitive type, this might give you an extra kick when motivation starts to lag.
Not sure which language to learn? Think about each other’s interests, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and future travel plans. Say you want to travel to Europe. You may have non-English speaking family with a spare room in some stunning patch of countryside. A Romance or Slavic language could be a good option as many of them are mutually intelligible (eg. Italian and Spanish, Czech and Polish). This can provide you more ways to communicate with denizens of whichever countries you plan on passing through.
If you’re looking for something a bit more obscure, Lexicity is another avenue that’s worth investigating. It’s a hub of resources on ancient languages, like Mayan, Sanskrit and Old High German. Whether you’re not quite ready to commit or have a wider interest in languages, it’s well-deserving of a browse.
Brush up on your cooking skills
Even if you’re a seasoned home cook, everyone can learn something new in the vast and varied world of cooking. Spend some time in the kitchen together and see what recipes, tips and tricks you can learn from each other. See if you can work out delicious ways to combine your individual specialties. Say for instance one of you is an avid baker, and one of you can sear a steak to perfection. The result might be the best damn steak sandwiches you ever had. Even if you rely on instant noodles for most of your meals, you can always upgrade your ramen with some extra additions such as egg, spring onions, bok choy or whatever tickles your pickle.
Want to eat healthier? Now could be a great time to put together a new menu for yourselves and plan out some meal prep. Work on building healthy eating habits together for when life returns to its usual hectic pace. Short on cash? Look at ways to reduce the cost of your weekly grocery shop and maximise what you can afford. Here’s a link to a free PDF cookbook, which focuses on eating healthy for less than $4 a day.
One of my favourite kitchen hacks is buying a roast chicken and saving the bones to make bone broth, which makes a great base for soups, stews and curries. Got leftovers? Consider offering them up to neighbours who might be struggling under the current circumstances.
When it comes to date night, skip on UberEats and plan a feast together featuring some of your individual favourite dishes. Get fancied up, light some candles and put on some music for a romantic dinner. Romantic doesn’t have to be expensive!
Learn to dance together
I once knew a security guard who was a former ballroom dancing champion (weird combo, right?), who grew up in the country. When I asked why he got into dancing, he said, “there wasn’t much else to do”.
If you’re finding yourselves with “not much else to do”, why not get on YouTube and look up some tutorials on classic dance styles? Not sure where to start? Something like the waltz or the foxtrot are relatively easy to get into. If you’re both already pretty confident on the dance floor, you could try something more energetic like swing or one of the various Latin dance styles. You can find more exhaustive lists of dance styles online if you’re willing to dive down that rabbit hole.
Learning to dance together – especially while stuck in self-isolation – has a number of benefits (including but not limited to):
- You’ll both be getting exercise! (because who’s getting enough of that right now?)
- Great way to build trust and teamwork skills.
- You can wow friends and family at your next social event (whenever that is).
- Might be the start of a new hobby? Maybe a competitive dancing career?
Helps disperse household tension (gotta fight off the cabin fever somehow).
- You may be more attracted to each other.
If ballroom dancing isn’t your jam and you’re feeling a bit silly, there are plenty of fad/novelty dances that are heaps of fun to learn. Busting out the moves from Michael Jackson’s Thriller at your next Halloween party is guaranteed to turn heads (from time of writing, you have six months to practice!).
Of course, these are just a few ideas…
Have a brainstorm together and see what piques your interests. Learning new skills requires building new habits. Doing it with another person helps keep you accountable and motivated. Above all, it should be fun, so if whatever you’re doing isn’t working, just try something else! The important thing is making the most of your time in self-isolation together, which, if you’re reading this right now, is probably quite substantial. So go and enjoy it!