As much as you love your kids, they’re going to drive you crazy. It’s inevitable. And most people can take a much-needed break by escaping off into another area of their house.
But what if you live in an apartment? How can you make sure that both you and your kids have the space you need to feel at home without constantly clashing with each other?
We’ve got you covered with nine life-saving and stress-reducing tips.
Optimize Your Space
The first thing that comes to mind when we’re talking about living in an apartment with kids is space – you’re never going to have as much space as you want. Unless, of course, you live in a lavish penthouse in Manhattan. Therefore, try to be smart about unused space.
For example, keep drawers or storage space underneath your bed. You can keep everything and anything under there. Clothing, accessories, toys, even household items and linens can be safely stowed away to free up precious living space.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
By now, everyone’s at least heard of Mari Kondo’s bestseller, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
When she first wrote it, she was helping Japanese clients organize their homes, many of which were small apartments in crowded cities. She helped her clients get rid of things that no longer served them to create not only physical space but mental space, too.
If you feel like your apartment is getting too crowded for everybody, chances are, you’ve just got too much stuff. Maybe you tend to hold onto things, or perhaps you have a scarcity mindset.
This easy-to-read book could be just what you need to drastically improve your apartment for everyone.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is absolutely imperative for well-behaved children. Since apartment walls are thin and you’re living back-to-back with other apartment dwellers, evenings might not be as quiet you like.
If that’s the case, invest in a soothing sound machine and listen to white noise to help ease you and your kids into sleep. Using air conditioning can help keep the home cool while you shut the windows to keep the summer noise out.
Designated Toy Areas
You can keep your living room more Zen and clutter-free by establishing some basic house rules. Your children’s toys can stay in their bedrooms, where they can play to their heart’s content. To make sure this rule is easy to enforce, give your children the biggest room in the apartment.
If that feels too restrictive, they can play with their toys in the living room area, as long as they always return their toys to their bedrooms when they’re finished.
Make Outings a Priority
It’s natural for anyone to feel cooped up if they stay inside too much. If you’re all cramped for space in an apartment, this only gets worse.
To offset this and to help everyone feel calm and less cramped, schedule outings into your week. Go to nearby libraries, parks, playgrounds, science and history museums, art galleries, or your favorite areas in town. (Just be sure to educate your children on how to be safe when visiting and playing in public places.)
If you expect you and your kids to always be happy at home, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. It’s totally okay to spend lots of time out and about.
Your Kids Might Seem Super Noisy
Because you live in a building with many other tenants, you might be extra sensitive to how much noise your kids make. The last thing you want to do is disturb everyone, and be that neighbor.
But what can you do? Kids will be kids, and they’re going to cry, fight and throw tantrums.
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do is not try to control your children, but learn to parent differently. You might want to yell back at your children, but this won’t help the noise factor, will it?
Carol Tuttle, author of The Child Whisperer, offers three steps to deal with tantrums safely and responsibly, and in a way that creates greater understanding and opportunity for growth. She suggests that you breathe to stay calm. Then, shift your child from the place of the tantrum. And finally, resolve the issue by understanding what caused it in the first place. This can be with either basic necessities, like food and rest, or with open conversation.
Connection Parenting focuses on first developing strong emotional connections with kids in order to have peaceful, functional relationship with them.
Of course, parenting tools like this don’t mean that your children will never throw a fit or fight. Your kids are going to be noisy, but these experts show you how to mitigate these natural outbursts by being present, mindful and calm.
Dark Furniture is Key
You may want to be trendy and go with Scandinavian-inspired whites when it comes to furniture and home décor, but try to stick with darker colored furniture.
Since you’ll be using your furniture constantly, and probably seeing a decent amount of spillage on them, do yourself a favor: just get the dark-colored couches and chairs.
Buy Smaller and Battery-Free Toys and Games
The sky’s the limit when it comes to toy options these days. But you probably shouldn’t bring home that giant stuffed animal. Instead, let your children enjoy smaller play items, like travel-sized board games.
Toys with batteries usually mean noise, noise and more noise. How can you solve this problem?
Avoid them altogether, and instead, invest in some beautiful toys that encourage children to use their imagination and become divergent thinkers instead.
Move Your Library to Your Kindle
Books are beautiful and nostalgic, but they also take up a lot of space. Consider investing in several tablets and allowing your children to read their favorite books from their digital devices.
And if you’d like your children to experience physical book reading, take frequent trips to your local library, where they can borrow, rather than own, their favorite books.
Living with children is always a challenge, and doing so in an apartment certainly ups the ante. But with these nine tips, you can create a Zen place for you and your little tykes.