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How to Have Personal Time When You Have No Personal Space

A man lying on a blanket on the floor with noise-canceling headphones on.

People are spending more time than ever at home. In the process, many are finding it challenging to enjoy personal time due to a lack of personal space. Here’s how to carve out both the time and space for some “you” time.

This year has been a challenge, to say the least. The pandemic has disrupted jobs, school, and even what we do in our free time to unwind, like going to the gym or just out and about.

Finding the time to take a mental break is especially important during times like these, when tensions are high, and anxiety and depression can creep in. It’s important to address these head-on and find a way to manage them while staying calm.

If you just need some alone time without your partner or children around, we’re here to help.

Take Your Self-Care Routine Seriously

Whether you enjoy long baths, have a seven-step skincare routine, diligently meditate every day, or can’t imagine a day without some form of exercise, now’s the time to take these activities more seriously.

Spend that time with yourself and on yourself. Show up for yourself and count it as your personal time. Don’t include anyone from your household—make it your own thing. This way, you’ll always know you have those few moments in your day to yourself.

You’ll be able to focus on your own thoughts and feelings, or work on something you’ve wanted to for a while, but simply haven’t been able to. The best part about daily routines is they’re consistent. Because you do them every day, you’ll know you can use that time to take a moment to breathe.

Assign Private Space

A woman meditating on a couch in a sunny living room.

For private time, you need private space, meaning no distractions or interruptions allowed.

Talk to everyone you live with about what that means and where those spaces will be. If you’re lucky enough to live in a larger apartment or home, designate a place where those who enter get to relax and recharge. If you have enough room for everyone to have their own dedicated space, that’s even better!

If you’re stuck in a small apartment, though, it’s important to create a schedule. Set a time for each person in your household to use a specific space or room for personal time. Think of it as a timeshare for personal time, in which each person can have the patio or living room to themselves for a bit.

For example, you can always make the bathroom a personal space and set a rule that no one is to enter when someone else is in there. Then, you can take a long bath, give yourself a pampering session, or simply sit on the floor and scroll through your phone.

Do whatever you want to do; it’s your space for that allotted time, so use it.

Respect Boundaries

If someone says she’s going to go read for a while, respect this and don’t try to force a group activity on her. People like to spend their personal time in different ways. If someone wants to play a video game in one room while you watch a movie in another, embrace it.

Talking to your partner and loved ones about the importance of having some “me time” is extremely important. It’ll help you avoid any potential misunderstandings or issues in the future. It’s likely that everyone you live with craves some personal time just as much as you do.

If you’re finding it hard to figure out which activities to do while others are occupied, you’re in a great position to explore. As long as it won’t disrupt anyone else’s private time, try out whatever comes to mind.

Work Is Work, Play Is Play

A young woman looking at a laptop while her son holds a tablet while sitting next to her on the couch.
Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock

Working from home is a challenge, even if you don’t have youngsters around demanding attention. Organize your home workspace so that everyone knows it’s where “mommy has to focus” or “daddy needs quiet.” This will help your kids make a distinction between work and play. It will also teach them to respect boundaries.

You can make it a habit to organize a group play activity after your workday ends. This will show them the transition from work to play. This can be especially helpful if you don’t have a separate room to use as an office.

For example, the transition might be whenever you put your laptop away or clear off the dining room table for the evening.

Creating a sense of compartmentalization is important in all households, but especially those involving children. Knowing when it’s okay to jump around, and when they should sit quietly and play with their toys isn’t in their nature.

No Guilt

When you finally score some personal time, leave the guilt at the door. It’s not uncommon to feel bad for wanting to spend some time alone. However, it’s something everyone needs to maintain their mental health. Keeping this in mind will make it easier for you to let go and enjoy the time.

Wanting personal time doesn’t make you a bad person. It also doesn’t make you a bad parent, sibling. partner, or friend. It just makes you human. If it wasn’t for the weird situation in which we all currently find ourselves, you’d likely be getting time alone without having to carve it out.

Remember how you used to go to yoga class, work from the neighborhood coffee shop, or stop by your favorite falafel place on your way home? These were personal moments during which you could just be present and take care of yourself.

Just because those things aren’t part of your daily routine right now doesn’t mean you don’t need them, nor should you feel guilty for replacing them.

Once you learn how to enjoy your “me time” at home, you’ll be grateful to have those moments to relax and recharge. They’ll ensure you’re ready to face the rest of the day with more energy and a positive attitude.

Creating and cultivating personal time when you have no personal space is a challenge. However, it’s something you need to reduce stress and recharge your batteries.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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