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The highly contagious delta strain of coronavirus has Aussies on high alert across the country.
With Victoria, South Australia and Queensland recording new cases, and NSW yesterday announcing that the Sydney lockdown will be extended until at least the end of the month, it looks like millions of us will be spending more time at home this winter.
Fortunately, we have some ideas to help keep the boredom at bay. Lockdowns and stay at home orders over the past month have steered Australians' Google searches towards some interesting indoor and socially-distanced outdoor activities.
Here are some of the Covid-safe things your fellow Aussies have been doing to keep busy:
Paint by numbers kits
You don’t have to be particularly artistic to create something beautiful with a paint by numbers kit.
Similar to an adult’s colouring book, it comes with an image that’s divided into numbered sections that you match up to tiny numbered paint containers, so all you have to do is stay between the lines.
Free weights and at home gym equipment
Just like during the last lockdown, home gym equipment has been piquing people’s interest and is likely to remain a popular buy for Sydney-siders over the next fortnight.
Dumb bells, hand weights and kettle bell weights have been the most searched for items over the past month. Meanwhile, bigger ticket items being snapped up recently are indoor bike trainers, pilates machines, exercise benches and elliptical trainers.
When going out isn’t an option, bring the party home by mixing your own cocktails.
Piña colada recipes have been particularly popular recently, and if you don’t have the right equipment, Dan Murphy's has all your cocktail making needs sorted and can deliver to your door within two hours.
Channel your inner Daphne Bridgerton and join the growing number of people taking up embroidery.
While it was an incredibly widespread practice among well-to-do ladies in the 19th century, the hobby hasn’t had much of a following in recent decades, but thanks to the Netflix series it’s had a huge resurgence.
Start with an embroidery kit that has everything you need included and get crafting.
Nothing beats settling down with a good book, especially when you’ve binge-watched everything good on Netflix already.
Unfortunately, libraries are closed, but you can still use your account to borrow ebooks that you can read using the free OverDrive app on your smartphone. If your smartphone is a little small for comfort, the Kindle Paperwhite is super thin, lightweight and waterproof.
Audiobooks are a great, contactless way to catch up on the best reads and mean you don’t have to put your book down while working out or on your daily walk. Your local library will have some available to borrow for free, or you could sign up to Audible to get access to its 400,000 titles.
If you’re learning another language, you could help yourself level up by getting an Audible account from that country. For example, a subscription to Audible Italia costs €10 a month and gives you unlimited access to their audiobooks whereas an Australian subscription costs $16.50 and comes with two free audiobooks per month.
Putty, play doh and slime
A fun and inexpensive way to keep the kids busy is to get them messy with a bit of putty or slime.
There are some pretty fancy sets you can buy online, but you can just as easily put the kids to work making their own from common household items like flour, food dye, cornstarch and shampoo.
Unsurprisingly, video game consoles and controllers have spiked in popularity, with Nintendo Switches topping the list. It’s currently on sale for $379 at Amazon Australia, Target and Big W thanks to the Click Frenzy sale which ends on Thursday.
Roller skates and toy cars
Add a bit of spin to your outdoor exercise routine by trying out a pair of roller skates. This gorgeous pair from City Beach is currently on sale for $119.
For younger kids, searches for toy cars and go karts have been rising in popularity in the past month. A model with a handle that you don’t have to bend over to push is ideal for toddlers too antsy to sit still in their pram but too young to push themselves along in a toddler car.
Nail art kits
Nail salons are closed but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your manicure. Searches for SNS nail kits have increased by 30 percent in the past month.
Take a break from screen time with a good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle. This 1000 piece 101 Dalmatians puzzle should keep you busy for a while.
Stacking and sorting toys
Montessori-style stacking and sorting toys for toddlers have been an increasingly popular search in Australia over the past year.
These simple wooden toys are the antithesis of the many buzzy, flashy plastic toys that can cause sensory overload and they’re designed to encourage kids to be imaginative and independent.
Slightly older kids may enjoy playing with sumblox which are blocks in the shape of numbers 1 to 10 in increasing sizes. Each combination of numbers that adds up to 10 (like 9 and 1, or 7, 2 and 1) stacks to the same size as the number 10.
Precision cutting machines like the Cricut have been making their way onto people's radars over the last 12 months, with searches up 20 percent.
The Cricut is particularly useful for people with kids as you can create all sorts of cute clothes or decorations for their bedroom walls, and for people DIYing big events like a wedding or baby shower (when we're allowed to celebrate them again, of course).
Pop it fidget toys
Google searches for fidget toys and hand exercisers have risen dramatically in the past year, up 500 percent in Australia, with the majority of searches concentrated around pop it toys.
If you aren’t already familiar with it, a pop it is an inexpensive fidget toy that replicates the feeling and sound of popping bubble wrap and can help to increase concentration and focus. It’s not really useful for passing the time in lockdown, but may be helpful if you’re struggling with working or studying from home.
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