There are about a gazillion-and-one websites that will tell you all about things you can do by yourself this summer. Recently, I created a list of free (or cheap) summer activities ideas for children with special needs. But I wanted to create a list that caregivers could relate to and that would address the isolation we often times face in our role. It is easy for us to come up with some kind of excuse to not leave the house and say we will try one of the 100 free things anyone can do at home.
But the point of this list is to challenge caregivers!
We, so often, place ourselves on the back-burner and make sure everyone else is taken care of even when we may have gotten to the point of forcing ourselves to get out of bed each and every morning. We do this, regardless of the physical, spiritual or emotional pain we are in ourselves.
We fight through our own struggles to continue our caregiving duties.
How many times?
How many times have you wanted to visit that small boutique in the next town over, but your Spouse just had an anxiety attack on the way home from yet another doctor’s visit and all you want to do is get home?
How many times have you wanted to go see a movie, but your Spouse isn’t into Dramas? And let’s not get started on the anxiety you can see building up in his eyes just by mentioning the movie theater.
How many times have you wanted to go wine tasting, but last time you checked they don’t allow minors in tasting rooms?
Activities for this summer specifically for Caregivers
Learn to crochet
Do you know how to crochet? No? Why not grab your laptop or PC and search YouTube for videos to teach yourself how to crochet? Or better yet, why not sign up for a crochet lesson at one of the local Yarn shops? Or find a community crocheting group! In no time, you should be able to take your newly learned skill, yarn and crochet needles where ever you want and crochet away!
Learn to knit
If you prefer to knit, then ditto activity 1 and Go on with your Bad Self!
Learn to sew
Take a class or teach it to yourself. Not only does sewing come in VERY handy, there is just something really special about creating something with this machine, being able to look at the end result and feel the pride develop within yourself. You did this! You created this weighted blanket for your autistic son! You sewed yourself a hot-and-cold pack and filled it with lavender and rice! Yes! You did that! And it looks gorgeous!
Attend a cooking lesson
Find a cooking lesson near you and go to it all by yourself! Try to find one that challenges you. If you normally cook Asian-inspired meals, try a Mediterranean-inspired cooking class!
Attend an art class
Art is never wrong! Sign up for an art class at your local community college, find a community group or go to an art gallery to find information about art classes. You get to leave the house and possibly meet new people in the process.
Paint some pottery
Find a pottery painting class or local business and paint some pottery.
Take up Photography
You don’t need a $600+ professional camera with all the bells and whistles to take pictures. Go to the park, go for a walk, pick a spot in your garden, etc. and take pictures. It gets you out of the house and you get to do something that may give you instant gratification. Something caregivers don’t always get to experience.
Take music lessons
Have you ever wanted to learn how to play the violin? Why not take this summer to find a music teacher for yourself? Go on and tread in new waters!
Go wine tasting
Is your spouse on a wine tasting strike? Then go wine tasting by yourself! You may even be able to meet new people while you are out. Just remember to never drink and drive! Be safe and arrange transportation before you head out for your ultimate wine tasting experience.
Go to a coffee shop
Are you not really a wine drinker? Try stopping by a coffee shop. Nowadays there are so many quaint sit-in coffee shops that offer way more than coffee. Bring a book, homework, or your yarn and crochet needles and just sit back and relax for an hour!
Take Yoga classes
There are countless benefits to practicing Yoga. Not only can you improve your body posture and mental well-being, but it can also be a great opportunity to meet new people. Instead of buying a Yoga DVD or watching a free video on YouTube, try going to a class at your local gym or specialty yoga center.
Take Pilates classes
Ditto the Yoga classes. Personally, I am partial to Pilates; because I have lost about 15 pounds doing Pilates alone over a course of 3 months. It is challenging, but after each session I feel absolutely amazing and refreshed. (This reminds me, I should really get back into doing Pilates).
Go for a jog
Often times, caregivers give up things we used to enjoy doing. If jogging or running is one of those things, go for a jog or run by yourself. It’s your me-time! You can explore your neighborhood, or join a gym. You may even meet new people. The point is to let go of your duties as a caregiver for this short period of time to rejuvenate.
Learn to meditate
Attend a class or checkout YouTube for some great resources on how to get yourself started.
Go for a walk
Is jogging or running too much? I don’t blame you, not one bit! Try to just go for a walk. If you happen to have park or nature trail near you, walk there. There are a number of benefits that nature walks can have. And as caregivers, we could definitely use every bit of benefit we can get. 🙂
Go for a bike ride
Do you still have that bicycle you bought with good intentions, but never really used for more than a really nice looking dust and pollen collector? Well, use this summer to change that and go for a bike ride; or two. If you don’t have one, you may be able to get a bike for under $200.
Get a membership to your local community center or pool and carve out an hour a couple of times a week to go for a swim, by yourself.
Take dance lessons
If you have the extra money or are able to snag a good deal on some dance lessons, I say go for it! Get out of your comfort zone and take those lessons you’ve been dying to try.
Take a nap
Every once in a while, even a 30 minute nap works wonders!
Get your hair done
Go get a new hair cut. Don’t just go and get a trim, try something new.
Participate in a marathon or obstacle course
There are many organizations that hold marathon runs/walks each year. If you are passionate about a certain topic, why not participate in one of these marathons? You get to meet other people who are just as passionate about this topic as you are.
Go to the local or state park
Pack a small lunch, some snacks, a blanket or chair, a good book, your yarn and needles, or your camera and go to your local or state park. There, you can do anything from crocheting to taking pictures. What you make of this time is up to you. But remember to try to enjoy this alone time.
Go to the Bookstore
Barnes and Noble used to be one of my favorite places to go to, because they had a coffee shop. Now I enjoy going to the small local bookstores. They are so quaint and ours carries locally made teas and coffees. It’s super relaxing and such a nice change to have small talk with people in the store and discuss each others’ book choices.
Find a book signing event
If you are lucky enough to snag a spot at one of the big book signing events, go for it! Don’t shy away from smaller book signing events though. You never know, you may be able to meet new people or get a signature from a new best seller?!
Create a music playlist
Music has helped me in so many ways. It’s such a stress reliever. Create your own music list, load it to your MP3 player or iPod and take it with you on your trip to the bookstore, coffee shop, park, etc.
Complete that Pinterest project
You know that super simple DIY project you’ve been eye-balling for a year now, but haven’t had the time to try yet? Well, why not take this summer and go for it! Try it! What’s the worst that can happen? It will end up on your own personal Pinterest-Fail list? If anything, you’ll get a good laugh out of it.
Go clothes shopping
When was the last time you went to the mall or any clothing store to buy something for yourself without walking out with something for your spouse or kids? Challenge yourself and buy just ONE piece of clothing or accessory for you. Don’t buy for anyone else! Will you accept this challenge?
Get professional pictures done of yourself
Have you seen those professional pictures people share on Facebook of themselves? If they can do it, why not you? I would think that being able to get dressed up, get prettied up and get professional pictures taken would be a really neat experience.
Go Thrift Store and/or Yard Sale shopping
I absolutely love walking around Thrift Stores. I’ve literally found so many great deals on books, fabric, office items, etc. There’s something really cool about finding little treasures. Sometimes you even get the chance to talk to people about these items and it just makes these little treasures even more special.
Go to the movies
How many movies have you missed that you’ve wanted to see, because your spouse just doesn’t like them? Or your spouse doesn’t do movie theaters and just mentioning the movie theater makes them cringe? Why not go by yourself?
Have breakfast/lunch on your own
Go to your favorite restaurant and have breakfast or lunch by yourself! Take a book, your Kindle, or one of those new adult coloring books and enjoy a nice meal on your own.
Go to the museum
Do you like Art or History? Go to your favorite museum or art gallery and enjoy this time by yourself. Just think of all the things you could see and learn without having to take anyone’s care giving needs into consideration?
Go to a place you’ve never been to
Have you been dying to check out the mall on the other side of town? Before you choose to go though, make sure you tell someone you trust where you’re going, and always stay safe.
Or just go to a place you would normally not be able to
Is there a certain spot you’d like to go, but can’t because your role as a caregiver prevents you from doing so? Take time this summer to go by yourself.
When was the last time you got yourself a manicure or pedicure?
Get a massage
Groupon often times has deals and coupons for local businesses where you can get massages. Go ahead and treat yourself to a nice massage all by yourself!
Take a long, hot bath
Take a long, hot bath with lavender scented Epsom salt, a good book and if you’re up to it, add some candles! Sounds relaxing doesn’t it?
Do crossword puzzles
Crossword puzzles, coffee, sunshine! Need I say more?
Take a free online course in something/anything you may be interested in
MIT Open Courseware has some AMAZING free courses. The courses are being taught by some of the best instructors in the country AND they are FREE? Sign me up!
The best thing about this is that you don’t necessarily have to go further than your backyard for this.
Enjoy the sunset or sunrise
Are you not a night-owl? Check the Weather channel to get the times for sunset and/or sunrise and enjoy these few minutes of one of nature’s most amazing shows.
Have coffee on your porch
It doesn’t matter if you sit on your front or back porch, just as long as you have a cup of coffee in your hand and are able to enjoy these few minutes all by yourself.
Watch a stand up comedy show
Who doesn’t need a good laugh every once in a while? A stand up show may be the perfect opportunity for you to escape from the daily struggles as a caregiver, even if it’s just for an hour.
Binge watch a series on Netflix
Netflix has a TON of series you can indulge in over the summer. Check out their original series. One of my favorites is House of Cards. There is nothing better than sitting down at night with a glass of wine and a good show. That reminds me, I need to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy!
Play video games
There are so many different games out now, it’s mind blowing. Choose a game only you would play and go to town. Depending on the type of game or gaming system you choose/have, you may even be able to connect with other Gamers online.
Go to the gun range
Aside from all the political chaos that may be associated with this topic, if you are into guns or have an interest in them try going to the range. Many now also have special training and safety sessions for women only. This is a great opportunity to meet other people and it seems that ever time I walk into a gun store or range, there is at least 1 veteran or spouse there. These may be great opportunities to connect with others who can understand the special and sometimes complicated nature of being a veteran’s caregiver. Plus it is a great opportunity to learn gun safety.
Find an organization to volunteer with, but try to go for an organization that has absolutely nothing to do with type of condition you are facing every day with your care-receiver. So if you have a child with Autism, volunteer for an animal shelter. Or if your spouse is a veteran, volunteer at Habitat for Humanity for instance. Either way, try to go for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the things you face every day.
Start your own journal
Walmart often times has some great prices on journals, or you can check out Amazon. Use this journal as an outlet for those days that are more difficult than others, or use it for the days something went especially well and make note of it.
Start your own garden
It doesn’t matter whether you are starting a flower garden or vegetable garden, it is all about the fact that you did this by yourself and you can see progress being made. Progress is often times something we caregivers don’t always see, so it is refreshing to have something we can somewhat control and witness progress with.
Find positive and uplifting quotes
I, personally, LOVE quotes! There is something really neat about finding words some totally random person came up with and be able to completely relate to these words; even though we have never met!
Call a friend
Because there is nothing better than talking to an old friend who understands you more than anyone else. A friend who will let you vent and make you laugh until the cows come home!
Don’t forget to see your PCP!
Last, but certainly not least, make an appointment with your PCP and go to that appointment! As caregivers, we tend to place ourselves on the back burner in so many different ways; and our physical and mental health can often times suffer the most. Therefore, if there is anything you do this summer for yourself it should be to make an appointment with your PCP and actually go to the appointment! We cannot continue to be caregivers if we don’t care for ourselves first.
I challenge you, from one caregiver to another, to do at least TWO of these activities this summer!
Will you take on the challenge?
Disclaimer: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This post includes affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.