5 Ways to Manage Lockdown in a Small Space
When my husband and I got married, I moved out of my parent’s home and into his bachelor pad. It’s a simple one bedroom apartment, big enough to accommodate the both of us. Prior to getting married, one of the things that we often talked about was our desire to create a stable environment for our family by having a permanent place to call home. Having both shared the experience of moving around as children, we did not want our family to experience the uncertainty that this kind of thing can bring. So in July of 2019, when we welcomed our daughter, we decided to take the first step in our plan to find a place that would accommodate our growing family and be our forever home.
But, like for many of you, the COVID-19 pandemic has put my family’s plans on hold, which means that we have been observing the lockdown in our small apartment. What haven’t changed during this time, however, are the school and work responsibilities my husband and I share. Along with caring for my infant daughter, I am completing my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. My husband is also juggling parenting with his work responsibilities as an account manager. Being forced to carry out these responsibilities in our small space has added an interesting element to our lockdown experience.
There have been exchanges – friendly exchanges, of course – between my husband and me about why I can’t get the baby to stop screaming during his important work calls, and it has also been challenging to keep a curious infant away from the computer while trying to complete assignments or read and send emails.
All in all, it has been an interesting time filled with ups and downs – and, of course, much reflection. Now that we are months into the lockdown, I’ve been able to figure out five helpful ways to manage work, school, and family responsibilities while observing the lockdown in a small, shared space.
01. Go Outside
Whenever one of us has an important call, or a task that needs to be completed with minimal disruption, the other will head out for some fresh air. Going outside benefits both of us by giving one person the time and space they need, and allowing the other person to get active and recharge. During this pandemic, it goes without saying that this suggestion should be taken with caution: remember to stay close to your residence and to physically distance! (I find that going out in the morning helps me to avoid coming into contact with too many other people.)
02. Find Your Own Space for a Time Out
Our car has been a great secondary option that we use for quiet space. It’s obviously not as comfortable as being in our home, but it is a good option for doing quick tasks, such as taking calls or sending emails. (If you don’t have a car, you might shut yourself away in the bedroom or bathroom – or even, if necessary, find momentary refuge in a large pantry or closet.)
03. Declutter or Clean
Despite living in a small space, there is always something to clean, dust or organize in my home. There are often times that my husband will need a quiet space for a work meeting, so what I usually do is take our daughter into the bedroom and wait for him to finish. While waiting, I use the opportunity to organize drawers, get rid of items in my closet that I no longer use, or dust the surfaces in our bedroom. Keeping busy in this way not only helps the time spent waiting go by, it also helps to keep our home clean and tidy.
04. Find Ways to Work Together
Although this is not always possible for me and my husband, we recognize how helpful it might be for people sharing small spaces during this time. You could support your partner or roommate’s work by taking notes, keeping track of to-do lists, planning and brainstorming together, or listening while they vent about something (or someone!) that may be frustrating them. And, of course, they can do the same for you. It’s always a good thing to bounce ideas off of other people, so working together during this time can be a solution to the challenge of staying productive while living with others in a small space.
05. Embrace the Closeness
My final suggestion is to just embrace the closeness of it all! I shared earlier about my family having plans to move into a bigger home, but one of the things that I’m honestly going to miss is just how close we have been forced to be in this apartment. It’s going to be bittersweet to leave this place once we finally do, but I am looking forward to what’s ahead for us – post-COVID and post this apartment.
Are you looking for resources to support you, your loved ones, and/or the young people in your community? We’ve compiled some resources and supports, and you can visit the Featured Collection on our Knowledge Hub.