We are on the third-fourth(ish) week of Coronavirus pandemic social distancing in the US, and so far, as a family, we've spent a lot of our free time out in nature during this shutdown by playing tennis, walking on trails, and hiking in the mountains. Sadly, as the virus has continued to spread, state and local officials in our area have made the tough decision to close parks and trails by building temporary fences around the trails and locking access points/entries.
So, ever on the quest to make the most of any situation, I've decide to supplement our "new normal" living room workouts and sidewalk walks around our building by plowing through my to-read list.
Did you know that reading a book for just SIX MINUTES per day can reduce stress levels by 68%?* So crazy! Reading a book has greater soothing benefits than going for a walk or having a tea even. In stressful times like these, we should all be reading SOMETHING.
Currently, I'm on a nonfiction kick. I'm taking this time of being at home to reflect, regroup, and better myself as much as I can. And reading is a big step in the direction of personal growth.
Even so, no one likes the feeling of starting a book and feeling like it's a chore to read, and nonfiction can often be particularly difficult to get into if it isn't interesting enough. To save you the trouble of testing out books that you just might not love, I'm sharing with you here some of my favorite nonfiction books that you can read while social distancing!
Five nonfiction books to read while social distancing
All you need are a couple of blank canvases (you can get them super cheap on sale at Michael's or order from Amazon), paints, and brushes. I personally like to use "paint knives" instead of brushes for abstract stuff.
Don't be afraid of suggesting BYOC (bring your own canvas!) if you don't have any extras lying around!
Fill a couple of mason jars with water, set aside some cloths or paper towels, and lay an old comforter down to protect your floor. To cultivate an atmosphere that yields creativity, put on an artsy vibes station like Bon Iver on Pandora or Spotify, light a couple of candles, diffuse some peppermint and lavender essential oils, and Voila! You have the perfect set up for a relaxing night of good conversation, chill time, and crafting.
Of course, everyone knows the best host provides refreshments for his or her guests!
I like to set out a cheese board and some vino when having people over because it adds to the ambiance of the evening.
If your evening is scheduled in the midst of dinner time, here's a tip: throw together an easy CrockPot or InstaPot meal ahead of time! This way, you all have something nutritious and delicious to eat whenever you want throughout the night, plus you aren't busy with cooking or clean up when your guests arrive.
My meal of choice? A hearty chili! It's perfect for cold weather whether it's vegetarian style or traditional chili.
I don't follow any recipe, but prep only takes like ten to fifteen minutes, and clean up is a one-pot breeze! I just throw together browned meat, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste, some cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, salt, and red pepper in my CrockPot and allow it to cook on low for at least six hours during the day! Provide cheese, sour cream or yogurt, basil, and whatever else you can think of for garnish toppings.
So that's it! Everything you need to have your own little "wine and design" night from the comfort of your own living space. A few art supplies, a chill atmosphere, and some simple food and drink! If you have kids like me, put them to bed a tad bit early and enjoy this inspired evening.
We often joke that our travel motto when kids are involved is as long as no one is crying, we keep on rolling! It may be a joke, but don’t think I’m above “holding it” if the kids are both asleep and we are making good time! But in all seriousness, if there is one thing our family has learned this year, it’s how to travel by vehicle - with kids. After clocking in about 600 hours on the road between my husband and I over the course of the year, we think it’s safe to say we’ve got this figured out! So the next time you’re stressing about the long upcoming car ride you’ve got to make with your littles, just remember we’ve done twelve hour trips with ours, and survived! Check out our top five tips for roadtripping with kids!
- Keep toys to a minimum. Isaiah knows we have a one toy per hand rule when traveling. Just enough for little hands to keep up with on their own. Otherwise, you risk the meltdown of a lost toy or part. We also encourage leaving the legos behind because you don’t want to spend an hour looking for Captain America the mini-figure' s missing miniature shield under your seats in the dark. 😅 (Trust us, it's not fun!)
- Don’t be afraid to sit in the backseat. Sometimes I can stretch out comfortably in the front passenger seat for hours, but every now and then the little one (being that he’s only three months now!) just needs to see mama to know that she’s there, so we keep the middle seat in the back open. This way, I can easily hop back there in the event of a fussy babe who needs to be pacified to sleep. (Don’t worry, you can pullover to make the switch. And always wear your seatbelt, whether in the front or the back!)
- Comfortable car seats make all the difference. Nehemiah used to hate traveling in his infant bucket seat (probably because he’s so huge already!), so we invested in a Maxi-Cosi car seat for him. We wish we would’ve went with this one from the beginning! It’s the only seat you need for 5-85lbs. It’s super luxurious and cushioned, plus it comes in a gorgeous cream color that looks amazing in our interior. Since we made the switch, he is so comfortable and content in his seat, and often falls right to sleep! We even use a different seat for our four year old. Isaiah normally rides in a booster seat, but for longer trips, we break out the larger seat for added comfort and safety.
- Tablets are your friends. I know a lot of parents worry about too much screen time, so on travel days we usually say no TV before or after we hit the road as a compromise. We love having a kid’s tablet for Isaiah. He doesn’t just use it to watch shows and movies, although we do have plenty downloaded for when he does. He uses it to draw, play games, and use learning tools on the go. We bought ours from Amazon because they have a really great kids warranty system, so you don’t have to worry about accidents! Plus, it’s built to withstand slippery toddler hands!
- Pack snacks before hand! We usually pack a small soft travel cooler with juice boxes, water bottles, granola bars, bananas, and sometimes even PBJ’s before we go. This helps save on stops for food and drink, plus it saves money and allows you to snack healthier on the road!
So there you have it! Our top five tips for traveling with kids via car. And for you? Bring a pillow and a blanket if you have someone to alternate driving with. Your kids are going to be so content that you might even be able to catch a few roady Zzz’s in the passenger seat!
Have questions or comments? Share your best travel tips or curiosities in the comment box below!