We used to be so busy — jetting from work to the gym to social engagements — that home was, for many, a place to change clothes, stash wine and grab a few hours of sleep before doing it all over again.
Now we’re suddenly home all the time. Here are some ideas for navigating this sea change and making friends with your home, so you can stop climbing the walls and start enjoying the space within them.
Anchor your senses
Smell: Trigger your sense of smell with something other than your work-from-home spouse or screen-obsessed children. Splurge for a good candle with a comforting scent, like sugar cookies or the evergreen forest you wish you were camping in right now. If you have any candles left over from the holidays, now is the time to rekindle the flame. And make a routine of opening your windows every day to let the fresh air in.
Taste: Use your former commute time to try (or even master) some new recipes. Stress baking is a favorite pastime of control freaks (wave) because it restores a sense of order. How many times have you been able to say lately that if you just follow the directions, things will turn out the way they should? And as a bonus, stress baking is often followed by another favorite activity: stress eating.
Hear: Music is an effective mood-lifter. The stay-at-home order is bringing out creativity and humor in people with nothing better to do. Spotify has several quarantine-themed playlists for your listening pleasure (think: “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer and “Dancing with Myself” by Billy Idol), or make your own digital mixtape with songs that lift your spirits. You can also try your best to sing along to songs such as “One Week of COVID-19,” a Pepper Coyote parody of the Barenaked Ladies song “One Week,” which can be found on YouTube with lyrics. It’s sure to shake up your next virtual karaoke night.
Touch: Fabrics, not people. Hygge is always in fashion in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s now been elevated from trend to necessity. Faux-fur blankets, fuzzy socks and cozy fleece give your lonely hands something to hold on to. Pro tip: Pop your favorite sweatshirt or blanket in the dryer first thing in the morning to ease the bed-to-living-room transition.
See: Gaze at the faces and places you miss. Make a family wall of cherished photos or relive a favorite vacation. Bring the outdoors in with pictures of places you’ve been, or always wanted to go, and start planning that first trip for when we get to travel again.
Hang posters to personalize your space, or tack up quotes and images that ground and inspire you. We hung a banner that says, “Let’s stay home.” It was meant to encourage a date night in, but now it has a much deeper meaning.
Clean like you mean it
Don’t stop at disinfecting doorknobs — dig deep into spring cleaning. When you have to spend so much time indoors, it’s nicer when things are clean and roomy, with the clutter reined in. Blast some music and take out your frustrations with a mop and some Pine-Sol (and if there’s none on the shelves, 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar in a gallon of warm water works just fine).
Then give yourself someplace to go: Make a cozy corner for when you need a timeout. Set up a reading nook with the books you used to read on the bus — or never had time to read at all. Arrange them by genre, order of interest, author’s name or spine color, until you have a personal library you want to visit. Plop a pillow on your freshly cleaned floor. Sip some tea, or coffee or whiskey, and curl up and read. This is that “nesting” thing people have been talking about.
Make time for play
Lighten the burden on your heart and psyche with some good old-fashioned play time. If you’re working from home, honor your stop time. Close the laptop and mute the devices so you can tune into your family, your partner or yourself. Roll around on the floor with the dog. Dance like no one’s watching — because, for once, no one is.
Close the curtains and set up a home theatre with popcorn and crazy toppings. Watch whole trilogies back to back. Crank up the heat, put on a bikini, make an umbrella drink and FaceTime your friends from the bathtub. Dress up, get out the good glassware and host a virtual cocktail party. Dust off the Wii Fit. Make a collage or a mood board. Play Scrabble against yourself.
Immerse yourself in something, anything, tactile to be in the moment and escape the worry outside. Stay in that moment as long as you can. Home may not always be where the heart is, but it’s where you are, so embrace your space as you shelter in place.