My house has a new room — or rather, an entirely new floor.
What once was the basement is now called the Den of Isolation, where Covid-positive family members go to hang out in solitude for five or 10 days, depending on whose standards they’re following.
With Covid running rampant worldwide, I know millions of families are in a similar situation.
And while it’s comforting to know that some family members can isolate together — and, thankfully, they’re symptom-free — chilling out in a basement for several days is far from fun.
(In fact, in the time it took me to write this post, three more family members joined the “positive” list, and I — the sole negative one thus far — packed up and headed to our lake cottage so that they could occupy the whole house.)
We miss each other.
The internet, though, means isolation no longer has to be as lonely as it sounds.
We can’t be “all in this together” together. But these things — plus shouting through closed doors — are helping us plod through the days of isolation.
I hope your family doesn’t need them. But just in case …
This is basically Pictionary online.
Each person logs into the game on their own device. Players take turns drawing out a secret word, while the other players try to guess what it is before the time runs out.
The person drawing gets to choose the word. So, whether your child’s spelling level is at “cat” or “hippopotamus”, he or she can participate.
Are you familiar with the Codenames party game?
This is the online version.
Players are split into two teams and, using clues, race each other to identify their team of spies. You can either play huddled together around a screen, or players can join in on individual devices.
If you’re unfamiliar with the boxed game, as I was, it takes a round or two to get the hang of this game.
But eight of us, aged 8 to 78, recently played, and we all agreed it’s a keeper.
If you have children, you probably know this game already — or at least have heard of it.
They’ve probably already downloaded the app.
The game: As a player you’re either an imposter trying to kill all the other players before they identify you, or you’re one of the other players trying to complete a series of tasks and identify the imposter before you get killed.
It’s easy. Addictive. And, despite all the “killing”, an enjoyable family game.
Family Book Club
My sisters and I live in two different cities, and we each have three or more kids.
So there hasn’t been a ton of in-person visiting these past two years.
Recently, though, one sister suggested starting a book club just for us: Just like a regular book club, except it’s just the three of us, working our way through a book and meeting online when we can or occasionally in person.
I often struggle with maintaining book clubs. But when it’s just your family, there’s zero pressure.
“Meh. I didn’t read this week. Too tired.” Totally OK.
“I zoomed though the first five chapters, so let’s chat about them.” That works, too.
You can easily read in isolation, regardless of your energy level.
If you want to run through an entire book in one day, great.
If you’re too tired to even pick the thing up, or ennui has taken hold, audiobooks are your friend. They’ll do the heavy lifting. Just sit back and listen.
Alexa/Google Home Mini
My husband and I have been known to send each other messages while we’re in the same house when we’re too lazy to move or shout.
“When you come up, will you bring me a glass of water?”
“I’ll be done working in five minutes. Want to watch a movie?”
This translates well to the days of isolation.
We have Google Home Minis at our house, but presumably Alexa works for this, too.
“OK, Google, broadcast, ‘Do you want dinner now?’ I love you.’ to the basement.”
Then the reply comes back from my isolating child, “Yes, please, mac and cheese. I love you, too.”
It’s essentially the same as shouting across the house, just without the shouting.
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s still a thing?”
Because Amazon Prime/Hulu/Netflix watch parties seem so very 2020.
But we’re just hoping for a bit of normalcy here, not perfection, and watching a movie online together while chatting in the comments is … something.
As a pseudo date with your partner/kids when someone’s sequestered somewhere in the house, it’s not bad.
My husband and I watched a “Wheel of Time” episode together last night, him at the house, me at the cottage.
Was it the same as snuggling on the couch under a warm blanket, munching on freshly popped popcorn?
Not even close.
But even the tiniest connections chip away at isolation, and it’ll do for now.