Quarantine fatigue has set in big time at our house.

Tempers are short and quick. Hair is long and unruly. The breakfast room a one-room schoolhouse run by an unqualified teacher whose stock response to any question is “Google it.”

And the kids never leave the house.

Always there, pacing back and before behind you while you’re on a ZOOM call. No indoor voices, no volume control. Always wanting to be entertained, never wanting to  create their own amusements. Forever in need of a snack or drink, never satisfied with the selection in the pantry.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. I generally enjoy their company. But 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 months (and counting)? Too much of a good thing.

Here’s how I’m managing to get “alone” time when my kids are always around.

Find Areas of Your House with Little to No Traffic Flow

Among the things COVID-19 has taken away from me is my home office.

My husband is loud, really loud. In the 23 years I’ve known him, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him whisper. I don’t think he can. He’s especially loud when he’s on the phone, which he seems to be at least 90% of his work day. 

So my husband and his Paul Bunyan-esque voice were sequestered to my home office, and I moved my work to the breakfast table with the homeschooling kids.

Didn’t take me long to figure out that wasn’t going to work, and I began to look around the house for a new place for me. Some place where the kids don’t tend to congregate.

Thanks to the snack wrappers and discarded juice boxes they leave in their wake, it didn’t take me long to figure out the room that gets the least amount of kid traffic…

The toy/game room.

In turns out, it’s wasted space. They have their own bedrooms. When they congregate, it tends to be in one of those rooms or my bedroom to watch TV.

An afternoon of relocating toys/games to kid bedrooms and an online furniture store trip later, I had a new, relatively kid-free space.

Pay attention to traffic patterns in your own house and see if there is a little used space you could use for alone time. A corner of the garage or basement? A nook in the kitchen? 

Don’t forget about your backyard patio (or balcony if you’re in an apartment). Wi-fi range extenders are inexpensive and easy to install (like “plug in and go” easy). I have one in our kitchen and the wi-fi signal in our backyard is just as strong as the rest of the house.

Get creative

For conference calls where I can’t have kids talking in the background, my go-to space is my car. I’ve seen plenty of people with “car backseat” as their ZOOM background so I know I’m not the only one doing this.

Another hack from a fellow work-from-home mom? Clearing out a walk-in closet temporarily for a small, but quiet, workspace. I do this if I need to record a podcast or interview from home and I know the kids are going to be around.

Get technical with noise-cancelling headphones

My million dollar quarantine idea? A sound proof bubble, like the one they used to use in  old game shows, that would descend from the ceiling, sealing you and your work inside, and keeping out the kids and their endless demands for more snacks and drinks.

Sadly, that doesn’t exist and I haven’t a clue how to make it.

The next best thing–noise cancelling headphones.

My most practical pandemic purchase has been my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones. Those suckers bring the background noise in my house (screeching kids, barking dog) to a low din. They even give Paul Bunyan, I mean my husband, an indoor, as opposed to a bull horn, voice.

Occasionally relocate yourself OUTSIDE of the house

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Relocate where? Many restaurants and coffee shops are still closed, and those that are open don’t want you lingering. Libraries are closed. No one wants you and your germs in their house.

You know what’s not closed? Hotels. And they are cheap right now. Dirt cheap.

Yes, you can rent a hotel room a few miles down the road. Yes, you can rent a hotel room even if you’re not spending the night.

I’m writing this post from a hotel room 3 minutes from my house. For a mere $65 I have access to this room from 2 pm today until 4 pm tomorrow. Will I spend the night? I wish. But I will get several uninterrupted hours work today and again tomorrow.

And in case you are concerned by crowds or rooms with a high turnover, there are currently only 4 rooms occupied in this entire hotel.

So there you have it. How I have managed to find “alone” time in a house full of people. What are your hacks for carving out “alone” time in your house? Leave a comment or send me an email.

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