With coronavirus protocols in place across the country, staying home for an undetermined length of time might seem daunting. As time goes on, the walls might start to close in a little. Working, learning and playing together at home can raise anxiety and frustrations for everyone.


If you need a respite, how about a mini-makeover for your backyard so you can relax and rejuvenate outdoors? We’re lucky to live in a part of the country where we can enjoy the outdoors many months of the year. Now more than ever, the benefits of fresh air and a safe change of scenery can make a big difference.


Here are a few simple ideas to freshen up your outdoor space and engage kids in interesting projects while you and your family are spending time at home.


Shop in your own house and garden


Do you have empty pots sitting in your garage or your shed? With a little bit of soil, you might be able to create something new and pretty to set on the table. Other containers also can be used, as long as the plant is in a container with a hole in the bottom for adequate drainage. (You can drill those holes if you think you have something that will work that doesn’t have a hole.)


Many of us have plants that produce pups or offshoots that can be planted in a new pot. Think airplane plants, succulents, agaves, pothos ivy and others.


Walk out into the landscape and look for mini-me plants. Dig them up carefully, and be sure to get as much of the root as possible.


This is a great time to engage your kids. Have them help with clipping and filling the pot with soil and ongoing watering. Have them do the research about the plant’s light and water needs. Once the plant takes root and starts to grow — voila — instant home science lesson.


Pillows and other decor


You don't need fancy outdoor furniture to perk up your patio or yard. Move a few indoor pillows outside (when it's not raining) to add some cheer and make your space more inviting.


Add a little side table or TV tray or whatever you have sitting around inside — it can even be a crate with a tray on top of it and a place mat. Add a cup of coffee or a cocktail and take a deep breath.


Light up the night


No outdoor lighting? Not a problem. Chances are you have some holiday lights stuffed in a corner of the garage or up in your attic. Pull them out and tape or tack them around a few lawn chairs. A simple string or two of miniature lights draped from the ceiling or a pergola or even running along the fence can be very quaint and inviting. Or find a few empty glass jars from the back of a kitchen cabinet and help the kids stuff most of the little lights into the jar and plug in the other end. Take the kids outside around dusk and tell stories sitting in the yard.


Make eating fun


If you don't have marshmallows in the house, think about other goodies you could put on the end of a skewer or cleaned-up stick and pretend to roast marshmallows around a fire. Kids won't care — they'd be just as happy playing make-believe and eating a skewered cupcake or bite of banana bread. Heck, even a piece of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Creativity is key.


A little night music


What better to add to the calming effect of your new instant backyard paradise than the sound of bubbling water? Google meditation music with water sounds and sit together and listen to the sound of waves on the beach somewhere. Or, find some soothing music to provide background sound to sit and watch the stars