Family game night

Americans spend an enormous amount of time going, going, going. The next destination consumes busy minds and is often on the tip of one’s tongue. Moreover, the location runs the gamut of exhaustive errands to audacious weekend plans or simply looking forward to an upcoming summer vacation.

But where do you go when COVID-19 suggests social distancing and interaction in groups of just 10? What is your destination of choice when schools and playgrounds are closed, beaches have shut down and the local AMC is advertising an extended movie intermission?

Stay home. It is the best destination of choice.

Destination home is highly underrated, but it is the safe and logical option for individuals, couples and families amid a global pandemic that snuck up on the world without warning or an instruction manual.

A 2018 survey commissioned by Visit Anaheim calculated that Americans are enjoying just 37 minutes of “quality time” as a family on weekdays. Most families spend more time than that that shopping at Walmart, check-out lines included.

The study tried to quantify the cost of increasingly jam-packed schedules for American families.  The latter would be an appropriate factor outside the parameters of a global pandemic, but after polling 2,000 parents of school-aged children, researchers found that 60% of those polled described their average, daily lives as “hectic.” A quarter of respondents admitted that lack of family time is a “problem.”

When asked which factors in their lives were to blame for this lack of family time, two-thirds of the parents surveyed identified their long work hours as the main culprit. Participants also cited weekend chores and their kids’ complex school and activities schedules. Further, parents surveyed said they’re actively looking for whole-family activities.

Spending time at home with your parents and family may appear dated and uncool, but COVID-19 has encouraged a return to the same family values made popular by television shows like “Leave it to Beaver” and America’s Black family of standard, the Huxtables from “The Cosby Show.”

According to the study, on weekdays, with parents working and kids at school or in other activities, the time they spend all together doing a common activity is significantly low. While the average family is not even spending 40 minutes together on Monday through Friday, the survey showed that quality time did increase to about 2 hours and 40 minutes on weekend days.

Destination home presents opportunities to prepare and eat meals together, light the grill and have a barbeque for no good reason other than a holiday called “home”. Throw a Liberty City block party or pull-out the monopoly board game. You might pass go and collect $200, but just don’t end up in jail!

If you’re too grown for board games, prop up the trick leg on that card table and pursue a Miami Gardens marathon round of the card game Spades. It only requires four people, required trash talkin’ and laughing until your soul is satisfied from being endlessly dealt the trump card.

Destination home activities don’t have to be fancy or expensive. Staying home is free. It doesn’t require a vacation savings plan or a road trip. Ironcially, staying home is the only chance you’ll have to immediately say, “yes” when the kids ask, “Are we there yet?”

Staying home can also give you peace of mind about the whereabouts of your fast-paced millennials and zero worries regarding about who’s going to feed your dog when you’ve traveled cross-country in your Suburban mini-van.

For the thirty-something population or those who seek to ignite romance, date night at home offers a plethora of unexplored options. The study offered an insight.

When participants were queried, quality time wasn’t just an issue for families. It said spouses also struggled to enjoy time with one another throughout the year. More than half of the parents, or 54%, said they get at most 12 date nights to themselves a year, while 31% sometimes go more than one month without a night out.

The definition of “date night” also differs depending on who you’re talking to, and that’s because 65% of the respondents said even during dates, they’re likely running errands or doing domestic chores.

Slow down. Gather around the leather sectional and enjoy Netflix together. Reach for travel brochures when the pandemic finally ends. But for now, just stay home.

Managing Editor

Penny Dickerson is a journalist joining The Miami Times following an Africa sojourn and 10-year freelance career in newspaper and magazine. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and B.A. in Journalism from Temple University.

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