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Personal Space and Schedules Are the Key to Quarantine Sanity

Woman trying to work from home while her children noisily play around her.

Are your quarantine housemates driving you crazy? Here’s how to remain sane by defining and maintaining personal space and boundaries. And don’t underestimate the importance of scheduling more fun!

Your household is most likely adjusting to a new normal right now. With kids being homeschooled, spouses working from home, and roommates being forced to socialize with each other, it’s tough!

That’s why it’s important to be mindful about creating personal space. Most importantly, plan some fun group activities to help dissipate any growing tension.

Create a Separate Space for Everyone

Everyone has a certain amount of work to do each day. Whether your child is homeschooling, you’re working from home, or your roommate wants to attempt a 1,000-piece puzzle, everyone has something to do.

It’s time to pull out those folding tables, TV trays, and clear off the kitchen table. Just make sure everyone’s space is designed to keep them on track. For example, don’t put your kid’s desk right next to a bin of exciting toys.

If your kids need constant supervision, you can work in the same room, but do try to designate a space for each person. You can use masking tape on the kitchen table to prevent one child’s materials from spilling into another’s space. Also, rotate supervising duties, if possible. This allows one parent to escape to a separate (and quiet) space for a much-needed reprieve.

For spouses who aren’t used to working together, it’s a good idea to maintain some separation during the workday. This helps you both focus and avoid distracting conversations. Make sure you each have a dedicated workstation for your specific needs, even if you don’t have a ton of space in your home.

Still struggling to focus? Try some noise-cancelling headphones. Also, set up regular breaks, and let everyone know not to bother you until that time.

Read up on how to work from home when you have kids (some of which can be applied to annoying roommates or pesky spouses, as well).

Be Mindful About Shared Spaces

Roommates gathering to play video games.

Think about how you want to use shared spaces during lockdown. For example, it might be hard to concentrate in a small apartment if your roommates play loud video games in the living room all day.

Or, maybe you’re dying to do an intense Zumba workout, and your tiny bedroom won’t work. Writing down these requests in advance on a communal whiteboard will give your roommates a chance to voice any concerns. Also, you can brainstorm options, such as wearing Bluetooth earbuds during your workout, to minimize distractions.

It’s also a good idea to create a schedule for the kitchen. You might be planning to make a dozen loaves of bread, only to find your roommate has just started canning applesauce. Being aware of each other’s needs in advance will help mitigate conflict.

Enforce Quiet Time

Quiet time isn’t just for kids. Many cultures have siesta, which is a time of slowing down in the afternoon. In fact, napping is believed to be a powerful self-care tool, even for adults.

Discuss the details with your quarantine housemates, such as whether you want things completely quiet, or if people should spend this time in their rooms. Emphasize the need for rest and the chance to take a break from the constant stimulation of being around others.

If you aren’t already sticking to a quarantine schedule with your kids, we highly recommend it. It’ll help you create structure during these long days at home.

Plan for Fun Activities

A mother and daughter having fun eating pizza in a tent set up in their living room.
Stanislaw Mikulski/Shutterstock

Feeling bored and restless is common when you’re stuck at home 24/7. With everyone’s usual activities and social events canceled, it’s no wonder we turn to the others in our home as a source of entertainment. However, some of us still have work to do!

We suggest planning an activity for later to keep people out of your hair during the day. For example, promise your kids a pizza party and family game night after 5 p.m. This will give them a solid focus (and reward) for the day.

The same is true for your spouse. Maybe you don’t want to offend him or her by rejecting a request to spend quality time together. Instead, try scheduling a fun at-home date night to create some magic and spontaneity during your lockdown.

Keeping fun, community-focused activities on the weekly schedule will help break up the monotony of being stranded at home. You’ll be amazed how quickly this can lighten the general mood in your home.

Learning to navigate full days at home with others is a definite challenge. Even kids who’ve always been homeschooled or people who’ve always worked from home are used to participating in outside activities.

So, be gentle with yourself, even if you’re feeling annoyed. Hopefully, defining some personal space and boundaries will help preserve your household’s sanity. And don’t forget to have some fun!

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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