Tip #192: Make peace at home.
I’ve spent lots of the last nine years writing about living in a small New York City apartment. I’m no stranger to cramped quarters or working from home, but it’s an understatement to say that living and working in a small apartment during a pandemic presents a whole new kind of challenge.
Like folks across the globe, the five of us have found ourselves suddenly cut off from the people and places that help us thrive. The city that we rely on as a place to stretch our legs and expand our world is largely shuttered and we’re missing friends and family and our regular routines something awful. All this while also coping with a craven lack of federal leadership in the face of a deadly illness and a floundering economy? It’s a whole lot to process.
Still, I’m making peace at home. In the Skillshare class that I launched last week, I lead students through simple exercises to better acquaint them with taking control of their things, shifting their habits, and tapping into their creativity in an effort to create a more peaceful home. I explain that those changes are often exceedingly simple—the difference between something left on the floor or hung on a hook, for instance, can change not only what my space looks like, but also how it functions and how it makes me feel.
In my own apartment this week, I made three simple changes that have resulted in a more peaceful space (and a more peaceful me). I didn’t buy anything new or get rid of anything we already had, I just paid attention to what was working and what wasn’t and shifted things around accordingly.
Here’s what I did:
+ Made a door buffer. If my kids slammed the door to their bedroom one more time, I was going to blow a gasket. Instead, I jury rigged a damper from a scrap of thick cotton jersey pressed over the latch with washi tape. It prevents the latch from clicking noisily into place and buffers the slam of the wooden door. We’ve had other solutions for this slamming door in the past, but so far, this one requires the least maintenance and is most effective. Most important, all gaskets remain intact.
+ Moved a bookshelf. Until this week, we had a bookshelf squeezed into a narrow space next to the kids’ bunk bed. It was a fine spot for the shelf in theory, but for two kids who are a bit more stir-crazy than usual, the proximity to the bunk bed ladder meant a daily (or hourly) brush with injury. Our solution was to move the shelf into a corner in our main room that was underused. Now we don’t have to worry about our kids hurling themselves into the bookshelf and we’ve freed up precious floor space in their tiny room at the same time.
+ Repositioned a desk. Repositioning the kids’ desk to be under the window in their room has shifted the room in such a way that’s cleared space for us to wheel Calder’s mini crib in and out of it easily. While she’s still largely in the newborn stage where deep sleep comes and stays easily, for moments during the day when she could use a little quiet, we’re able to make that happen.
These tiny changes won’t solve any of the biggest problems we collectively face, but they made being at home feel a little more tenable this week. I imagine I’m not the only one who could benefit from anything that does that right now.
If any of you have found similar comfort in these kinds of shifts this week, I’d love to know.
And if you haven’t taken my class yet, you can join for free here: https://skl.sh/erin. (For every person who signs up through this link, Reading My Tea Leaves earns a small commission. Huge thanks for sharing widely!)