kittycat asks: What are some fun things you can do at home with ordinary everyday things (things that you probably have in the house and that you use daily)? And especially, what can a ten-year-old child do to entertain herself, and keep busy? Sometimes, after school, on religious holidays and on weekends, I’m left alone for a couple of hours and I feel lonely, and sad, sometimes a little scared. I want something to keep me occupied.
Hi kittycat –
I feel a little naughty answering you on this topic. You see, puppies are downright brilliant at finding things to do with ordinary objects in homes. We’ll chew shoes to ribbons, we’ll tear molding off a wall, and we’ll gleefully pee in all sorts of spots the humans won’t find till it’s caused permanent damage! Now if that’s your idea of fun, kittycat, just leave a puppy in your home for eight hours unattended, and take notes!
But given that you’re ten years old, and sound amazingly open and sensitive and responsible, I’m going to guess that chewing and peeing aren’t going to top your list of interesting activities.
And sadly, that’s the main point I have to make here. By age 10, humans have very specific tastes. What interests one kid bores another one to sleep. So I’ll throw some ideas in here, but the more you can pursue your own interests and passions, the more fun you’ll have.
1) Okay, let’s say the obvious. Books, Movies, and Recorded Music. All are relatively passive activities, but if I were a human, and had extra time on my hands, I would spend tons of it reading, watching videos, and listening to music. If you have a good library nearby, you can probably get all these things there. The great trick is to pick out something you have really enjoyed in the past, and to ask the librarian for suggestions based on that. “Oh if you liked reading the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, have you tried any of Beverly Cleary’s books about Henry and Ramona?” “If you enjoyed the songs from ‘Wicked,’ you might like some of that composer’s other shows, like ‘Pippin.’” “If you love the Harry Potter movies, have you tried the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy?” The more you find you like, the more it will open new worlds of possibilities of enjoyment. Really, I promise!
2) Art. If you have any artistic bent at all, it’s one of the two best things to do when you’re alone. Why? Because it’s so much harder to do when others are around! You can relish your solitude to paint, sculpt, draw, anything you like. If you don’t have them around now, art supplies can be very inexpensive, and doing art can be incredibly gratifying. If I only had fingers…!
3) Music. The other of my list of two “best things” is to take up a musical instrument. Especially when you’re first beginning, you’ll probably sound pretty dreadful, so it’s great to have the whole place to yourself when you practice (so no one’s complaining… or having to be polite to not complain!). Maybe there’s already a piano or a guitar in your home, and you can take a few lessons to get you started on that. Or else, you could pick out a more unique instrument, and get an inexpensive one for beginning students. If you want to try the latter, my suggestion is that you do a web-search and find a recording or video of “Bolero,” by Ravel. It’s a famous and easy-to-listen-to short classical music piece, that has solos of many instruments from an orchestra. If one of them particularly affects you, that might be a great instrument for you to take up. But if not, there are hundreds more. And if you do become skilled at an instrument, it can become far more than just a good hobby – you could get into an orchestra at school or university, or create a band of your own to make friends and money, or who knows, even create your future career. Let me just say that, to us dogs, music is the most enviable skill you humans have. Well, second… after grocery shopping.
4) Writing! Hey, this is what I do when I’m alone! You could write for a blog, you could write stories, you could write poems, you could write the greatest novel ever… As long as you have a typewriter, computer keyboard, or a pen or pencil, you can write to your heart’s content!
5) Exercise. Most humans these days don’t get nearly enough exercise. The exceptions are often people who play team sports. But if you’re not on a team, is there anything you can do to get stronger and more fit? Absolutely. How about getting some yoga videos, and putting an hour a day into that? How about trying to see how many situps or pushups you can do today, and how many more you can do three months from now, if you practice daily? If you’re allowed to go outside, how about running a few miles a day? Any or all of these things would be great for you, today and for the rest of your life.
6) Knitting. I don’t know if this is quite as popular as it was a couple of years ago, but knitting is a wonderful activity. It actually saves money once you get good at it (as you can make clothes for yourself and your friends instead of buying them), and it’s a fun and productive way to keep your hands busy (maybe while watching all those movies you got at the library!). And, without going into too much detail, studies have shown that knitting actually is very good for the brain, and makes you think more calmly, quickly, and centeredly. I can’t recommend it enough. If I only had thumbs!
Okay, kittycat. Those are the first things off my head. But there are hundreds more. From home repair to charity work to gardening to…
…The great trick to all these is that whatever it is that you find you enjoy, you’ve just improved your own life.
Thanks for a great question that’s improved mine!