Now that we have found ourselves confined to the comforts of our own homes for the next few weeks, it’s a normal reaction to try and sooth one’s soul through the medium of online shopping. No judgement here, we’re all in this together (but did I really need that cactus?). Whilst we’re likely to save a bit of money by not going out, buying coffee, ordering takeaway etc, it wouldn’t be realistic to advise you to not spend a penny, we can offer a nudge in the direction of mindful spending. Below is a roundup of the apps, services and activities that are perking us up at the moment – most of them are free, but any costs involved, we believe contribute to feeling a bit brighter and we have detailed all information.
Top 5 free trials
Now is the perfect time to ‘try before you buy’, and these are our favourite free trials at the moment. Top tip: set a reminder on your phone to cancel your subscription, as most companies will sign you up and charge you automatically.
1. Amazon Prime
Terms: 30 days. £7.99p/m or £79p/a
This is the perfect option for those who has already exhausted all that Netflix has to offer. This streaming service has a whole host of original TV series and films available that you may not be able to find elsewhere. Here are a few TV recommendations from the team to get you started:
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
This is Us
2. Spotify Premium
Terms: 30 days free (for new Spotify members only) and then £9.99p/m.
To quote Plato, music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything. If ever there was a time that our minds needed wings it’s now! Your premium membership will give you endless hours of uninterrupted tunes to help you concentrate, chill you out or cheer you up.
Terms: 30 days free plus one free audio book (If you're an Amazon Prime member, they'll bump this up to two books). Plans start at £7.99 p/m.
If a busy social calendar has gotten in the way of reading, now’s a good time to get stuck in. Audio books are a great step back into the world of books and they’re great company for your walk of the day! You get one free audio book with this trial, so choose wisely. May we suggest one of the Harry Potter books? Even if you’ve read them several times over, there’s something comforting about Stephen Fry reading these well-loved tales in such tricky times!
4. Duolingo Plus
Terms: 7 days free. £80 p/a for continued premium use
If you’retaking time to learn a new skill, maybe a new language is the way to go. The free version of Duolingo is pretty good, but you might as well enjoy seven days of no ads and unlimited attempts at words and phrases as you progress.
5. My Heritage
Terms: 14 days free. Packages starting at £79 p/a (£59 for the first year).
A good bit of research to get your teeth into could be just the thing to keep you busy and interested over the coming weeks. Maybe you’ve binge watched all episodes of Who do you think you are and want to know how find out if you’re distantly related to royalty. This 14 day trial can send you down a rabbit hole of history and is bound to bring up new things to chat about!
Top 5 ‘feel good’ services
No one really likes change, but we’re all having to adapt to a new way of living, and pretty quickly. Below are a few things that we’re finding useful to get us through mentally as well as physically.
1. Hello Fresh
Whilst the tendency might be to pop a pizza in the oven for comfort, spending (a lot) more time at home could offer the opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. Recipe boxes such as Hello Fresh (meals starting at around £3.50 pp) can be a good way of trying new things and being relatively healthy at the same time. When some form of normality does resume, you will have learned new recipes and be able to recreate them at any time.
2. Free full body workouts from Barry’s Bootcamp
Now that gyms are closed, the normal treadmill and floor schedule of a Barry’s class has been stripped back and adapted to 30 minute hardcore sessions that can be done from the comfort of your own home. These are broadcast on the Barry’s Instagram page and the schedule is released daily on their Instagram stories.
3. Free yoga and Barre with FLY LDN
To bring a spot of zen into your lives, FLY LDN are holding 45 minute yoga and barre sessions live on their Instagram page. Unlike many others, they are also posting each session on their Youtubechannel so that you needn’t worry about missing any part of the live broadcast.
4. Calm app
With stress and anxiety being at an all time high, having a toolkit to practice mindfulness and set yourself up for a restful night’s sleep is a great thing to have. This app offers everything from breathing exercises to bedtime stories. It’s free to download with an optional subscription so you can see how you get on with the basic package to begin with.
5. Let’s Day Out App
This popular app that focuses on bringing people together through experiences, is thoughtfully re-branding to ‘Let’s Day In’. They will be hosting lots of virtual group activities from cooking demonstrations to art classes. All the sessions are free, but there is the option to donate £1 to the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
5 things to jazz up home schooling
For many parents, the thought of having to home school their children is daunting and stressful. We’ve listed a few things below to bring some educational fun to your new school days.
1. Joe Wicks PE lessons
Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach, is hosting daily 30-minute PE sessions live on his Youtube channel at 9am. They’re great for waking everyone up, engaging the brain and getting into some form of routine when everything is so out of sorts. Although aimed at children, it’s a great way for the whole family to spend some time together being active, and if we’re honest it’s left some of us adults out of puff too.
2. The Maths Factor
Carol Voderman has announced that she is removing the paywall on her tutorial website for children, The Maths Factor. This is aimed at children of primary school age and will be freely available for as long as children are having to stay away from schools.
3. Printable Pages
Many illustrators such as Matt Richards and Jacqueline Coley have started producing artwork that parents can print off for their children to colour in. It’s the perfect down time activity to break up a curriculum based timetable.
4. David Walliams Audio Stories
Just as audio books are great for adults, children can really benefit too. A huge part of school life is shared reading and being read to. David Walliams, author of Gangster Granny and Mr Stink (to name but a few) has announced that he will be releasing an audio story for school children every day at 11am for the next 30 days for free. These can be found on his website, under ‘Elevenses’.
5. Family Baking
Studying at home needn’t purely revolve around times tables and literacy, there’s a lot to be gained from fun activities at home such as baking. Getting the family involved teaches measurements, elements of time keeping, the science behind baking, the importance of a clean kitchen…and patience from all involved! Little Cooks Co’s Instagram has many recipes that little hands can get involved with, but there’s no reason they can’t get stuck in with your day to day cooking routine!
 My Heritage
 Hello Fresh
 FLY LDN Youtube
 Let’s Day Out
 PE With Joe
 The Maths Factor
 Matt Richards
 Jacqueline Coley