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Top 10 Ideas for Free Family Time Online

So, how have your weekends been recently?

Are you missing your regular Saturday night out with friends or your Sunday roast with family?

Or have you been getting creative and making the most of technology to bring you all together and still have fun?

With so many new online apps & ideas out there, we really are spoilt for choice.

We’ve filtered through some of the main themes to give you our top 10 online options (in no particular order) to fill your free family time!

1. Online Apps

You will no doubt be fairly familiar with the likes of FaceTime & WhatsApp video calls which are great for catching up with small groups of friends and family via video call.

If you’re looking to get a larger group of people together, however, why not try Zoom or House Party instead?

These have recently been among the most downloaded apps in the UK and psychologists are urging people who might be put off by the technology to give it a try, saying studies show socialising by video has similar benefits to face-to-face interaction.

What better way to create a virtual pub on a Saturday night, get the family together for your normal Sunday chat or just a catch up with the girls on a regular Monday evening?

2. Fun & Laughter

Sophie Scott, the director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, said that seeking laughter is helpful in our current situation as laughter causes levels of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone, to drop and the body to increase its uptake of endorphins, causing a measurable increase in the pain threshold.

“When people laugh, they don’t feel exposed or scared. If people find some way of laughing, it suggests we have overcome some of the isolation and fear,” she explains.

There are all number of online opportunities for lots of laughter – just follow any of your favourite comedians on Twitter for their latest self-isolating shenanigans or find their stand-up routines on YouTube – they may be oldies but they’ll definitely be goodies!

3. Quizzes & Games

Virtual pub quizzes are becoming very popular with organisations such as Spectacular Quarantine Quizzes hosting all manner of quizzes, including Ohh, what’s occurrin’? (a Gavin and Stacy quiz) at 6pm on Wednesday 1st April and Galactic (a Star Wars quiz) at 6pm on Friday 3rd April. Just get googling and you will find so many other quizzes out there, ranging from dingbats to Disney, or you could always try putting your own together.

Whether you’re battling against friends in an online computer game, enjoying a nice sedate game of online chess or perhaps attempting charades via video call, there are so many games you can still play with loved ones online.

The craze of Escape rooms hasn’t been halted by self-isolation either. For any Harry Potter fans out there, we can highly recommend the Hogwarts Express Escape Room – we just hope you escape alive..! ?

4. Music & Concerts

Just like comedians, self-isolating musicians, such as Alicia Keys & DJ Khaled, have also been live-streaming and video-sharing across the globe for our enjoyment.

Or you could get creative and stage your own concert. My husband and son were particularly disappointed that they were missing out on an AC-DC tribute band this weekend so we found a live show online and brought the concert to us. It goes without saying that we had the best seats in the house and it was much easier to get a drink..! ?

Similarly, online choirs have now started springing up to bring people together for musical moments. You can join one such choir, Corona Voices, on Mondays at 2pm to sing along to Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson. It’s bound to be great fun and, even better, no one else can actually hear you!

If you’re more inclined to play an instrument than use your voice, there are all manner of tutorials on YouTube to give you some pointers. Just this morning, my son had his first drumming lesson – albeit without the drum kit – a pair of chopsticks and a table made a perfectly suitable alternative! And the instructor even suggested he play along to Back in Black by AC-DC – what more could he wish for??

5. Theatre & Circus

For those of you who are disappointed to be missing your favourite shows at the theatre, there are several options to enjoy.

You can join National Theatre Live every Thursday for much-loved productions which are then free to stream on YouTube for seven days afterwards. They’re starting with One Man Two Guvnors on Thursday 2nd April which stars James Corden and is highly recommended.

Cirque du Soleil have also made a fabulous 60-minute show available on YouTube which you can access here and enjoy from the comfort of your own sofa. Just perhaps don’t try too many tricks at home..! ?

6. Arts & Crafts

The number of arts and crafts ideas online could keep you busy for months, if not years!

Artists such as Pete McKee are very kindly sharing their skills with us – here Pete teaches us how to draw cartoon faces, with further lessons in ageing and bodies now also available on YouTube.

Whether it’s craft ideas for kids, number 1 lessons for knitting or suggestions for how to make super slime – YouTube will provide you with plenty of areas to get creative and have fun!

7. Fitness Sessions

So, hands up who’s been joining Joe Wicks, the Body Coach, on YouTube every morning at 9am? With millions viewers tuning in last week, funds raised going towards the NHS and now music being added to his repertoire, Joe is doing amazing things for the health of the nation.

If you fancy something a little more relaxing, Cosmic Kids offer themed yoga sessions which the children love or Oti Mabuse is offering dance lessons here too.

There are also plenty of other workouts available on YouTube so, whatever floats your boat, whether it’s Zumba or gymnastics, parkour or pilates, you will be sure to find it! 

We’ve also been known to do exercise to the Harry Potter raps – another great suggestion for Harry Potter lovers out there!

8. Educational

For those of you with children at home, you will no doubt already be familiar with a huge array of online educational resources.

If you’re stuck for ideas, however, there are a whole host of celebrities getting involved to share their skills with free online classes, including Music with Myleene Klass, Science with Maddie Moate , Maths with Carol Vorderman, History with Dan Snow and English with David Walliams.

9. Exploring & Tours

If you’re looking to learn whilst exploring, lots of museums and art galleries, as well as cities are now offering virtual tours.

Whether you’ve always fancied browsing around the Natural History Museum  or British Museum in London, gallavanting around the Guggenheim in Bilbao or even exploring the Vatican City and Museums in Rome, now is your chance…all from the comfort of your own armchair.

Similarly zoos, such as Edinburgh zoo are offering live webcams so you can check in on the Rockhopper Penguins’ routine, the Tigers’ timetable or the Panda’s shenanigans!

10. Cooking & Baking

And finally, if you any spare time on your hands, you can always practice your cookery or bakery skills.

Jamie Oliver is helping us make the most of our store-room staples with daily tips here whilst bakers such as Mrs Bun the Baker are providing free live Facebook Bake-alongs every Friday at 2pm.

So 10 top tips…and that’s before we’ve even mentioned the usual TV & films available!

There really is no chance of us getting bored – just don’t forget to drag yourselves away from the online world occasionally, get some lovely fresh air if possible and appreciate the wonderful things literally on our doorsteps! Stay safe everyone!

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