“How My Family is Quarantining in a Tiny Home with ADHD All Around”
“Today, our family is staying quarantined and safe amid a worldwide pandemic — all while living in a tiny 300-square-foot home. While social media is overrun with parents’ stories of forcibly homeschooling their kids and staying inside for the next few weeks, our family is hunkered down in a space smaller than a typical bedroom — and realizing the value of our tiny-house-living skills.”
After five behavior diagnoses for our oldest son, our family said goodbye to the socially acceptable American Dream and exchanged our 15-acre farm for a 300-square-foot tiny house on wheels for our family of four. Then we hit the open road.
“People still look at us like we have two heads, but what seemed crazy to others felt like a logical solution to the issues we were facing as a family at that time — financial strain and finding equitable academic resources for our extreme child,” said Roadschooling dad Spence Burger.
Today, our family is staying quarantined and safe amid a worldwide pandemic — all while living in an eighth of the square footage of the average American household. While social media is overrun with parents’ stories of forcibly homeschooling their kids and staying inside for the next few weeks, our family is hunkered down in a space smaller than a typical bedroom — and realizing the value of our tiny-house-living skills.
How are we staying safe (and sane) in such a tight space?
Frequent Hand Washing Keeps The Illness at Bay
We have all seen the memes about washing our hands and the cleared shelves where once stood rows of hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap. Keeping our hands clean after using the bathroom, while doing any type of food prep, as well as before and after eating is crucial to cut down on the spread of germs, especially in a confined space.
Additionally, in our tiny house, we have designated hand towels for each person to ensure that, should someone contract something, they are wiping hands on their own personal towel. We are also sanitizing surfaces and door handles twice a day.
Staying sane in a time like this is easier said than done. Something about frequent hand washing and recruiting the kids to pitch in with sanitization allows peace of mind knowing that we are making an effort to stop the spread of germs in our home.
Keeping Meals and Snacks Separate Keeps Small Spaces Safer
Because we live tiny, we have just four sets of each kitchen item — plates, bowls, silverware, cups, etc. Honestly, that is all we need. So during this quarantine, we have not only each used our specific color of dishes, but we’ve made sure to wash and sanitize them as soon as we are finished using them. This helps to keep dirty dishes from gathering on our counters and sharing their germs.
We are also reinforcing the idea of not sharing drinks or eating after one another, especially with our kids, whose natural inclination is to eat whatever is visible to them.
Clutter smothers and simplicity breathes. The simple act of cleaning our dishes immediately allows for more space on the counter and in the sink. It also keeps that stack of dirty plates from flooding my already anxious mind during this especially difficult time.
Scheduled Alone Time Helps Overcome Quarantine Overload
Whether your family is living with anxiety, behavior, or sensory concerns, taking time to breathe and be alone is crucial when mandatory social distancing has us all on high alert. No matter how much you adore your loved ones, no two people want to spend every second together. You must designate some solo time for every person.
If your school district has canceled regular classes and is using online learning, simply build alone time into your daily schedule. With a 3- and 8-year-old, we do alone time while the youngest naps. It is a good time for us to recharge in our own ways without being on top of each other and for us to breathe in a space that isn’t already occupied.
Taking time for yourself is a great way to re-energize, refocus, and ground yourself in reality. Amid the chaos and hysteria surrounding this pandemic, it is easy for our anxiety and fears to take over. So use your alone time to breathe and to remember what is actually going on in your house. Focus on the basic requirements for today only, and ask what one thing you can do right now to improve your situation — make cards to mail to a local hospital or nursing home, organize a space that feels cluttered, or pick up an old hobby again, for example.
Designated Calm Zones Help Small Spaces Feel Big
In homes of every size, you can ward off germs and the big emotions that can lead to meltdowns by designating a calming zone for each person in your house. Even when we aren’t forced indoors because of government mandates, we each have a space in our tiny house that is only ours.
For our extreme child, we keep his bed free of all items except for stuffed animals and soft cover books. If he gets frustrated, that is a safe space for him. Keeping in mind that many children choose to bite or spit when in a meltdown, this is another precaution to keep germs in one place.
Having a Place That Is All Your Own Is Empowering
During times that feel far beyond our control, it is crucial that we maintain these safe spaces. I choose to go to the hammock in my backyard and read, while my husband goes to work on motorcycles in his workshop. Everyone’s safe place will look different, but what is important is that they foster safety, time alone, and distance from the household for an age-appropriate amount of time.
Friends, we chose to live tiny and we haven’t regretted it yet. Three years in and we are so grateful for all of the freedoms this life has granted both our family and especially our extreme child. During this time of fear, frustration, anxiety, and annoyance, we encourage you to evaluate your space — no matter its size — and take the precautions necessary that fit the needs of your household to keep your family safe.
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