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How to Navigate Relationships During Quarantine

If you’re struggling to find the silver lining in being hunkered down with family or alone, we’re here to help you practice self-care and set boundaries that work for everyone.

Mar 26, 2020

Quarantine life: a blessing or a curse? If you’re like us, you probably vacillate between these two ends of the spectrum on the daily—and who you’re quarantined with (or without) can play a major role. With adults working from home and children taking courses online or trying out homeschool for the first time, creating space for alone time and family time off the clock isn’t always easy. So; what’s your living situation, and how do you deal?

Brooklittles | ALIGN : LEFT

Working with kids

For those of us who have the luxury of being able to do our jobs remotely, the change from structured office time to working from home can offer flexibility—but also distractions. Your cat puking on the rug by your feet as you work? Totally normal. Your tween turning the living room into his personal jungle gym? Just another manic Monday. If it’s feeling impossible to create boundaries (maybe you have a small space or your kids are human Energizer bunnies,) start by cutting yourself a little slack. So what if they watch one extra Netflix episode instead of doing 20 more minutes of math? If it allows you a little more uninterrupted work time, don’t sweat it.

With toddlers and smaller kids who aren’t in school yet and won’t have the structure of online classes, finding ways to keep them entertained, productive, and out of harm’s way without putting in a ton of time is key. Remember how it felt when you were a kid, just wanting to be an adult, dressed up and heading off to your super important office job? The rose-colored glasses may be long lost for you, but it’s likely your child looks at your work in much the same way. Creating a mini home office—with age-appropriate supplies, of course—can entertain them for hours while adding a learning component to their day. Fun but focused tasks, like asking them to create matching name plates for both of your desks, sorting notecards into stacks of 10, or writing out their dream grocery list can help them practice writing, computation, and hand-eye coordination, keeping them occupied and you uninterrupted.  

And when all else fails, go for a drive if possible. Even if it’s to eat McDonald’s takeout in a parking lot for 15 minutes, you’ll be glad you gave yourself the space to blast your favorite playlist, get some fresh air, and wolf down some insanely good fries without a single tantrum.

Linen Duvet Cover, Brooklinen Loungewear | ALIGN : RIGHT

Holed up with bae

There’s no hiding your bad habits anymore (for better or for worse,) and quarantining with your S.O. means yes, they are probably going to find out what your guilty pleasure show is, exactly how many times a day you snack, and whether your so-called “hobby” exists in a realm outside of your own imagination. (I can’t be the only one who’s told a partner I run five days a week when really, I’m maxing out at five times a month, right?) But since when is being real a bad thing? With no more smoke and mirrors to hide behind, you’ll both learn how to let your guards down and best be each other’s support systems. Most times, the parts of ourselves we’re ashamed of just make your partner feel better about their own imperfections—and who knows? You might even become each other’s new running buddies.

If the house starts to feel like it’s not big enough for the both of you, try setting ground rules for when you’re open to spending time together, and when you’ll need time apart. A friend of mine once made a rule with her partner when they moved in together that when her bedroom door was closed, there was no knocking or calling from the other room allowed. (Granted, they had a 2-bedroom, so it was possible to maintain distance.) If it was absolutely necessary, they could text. If living with a partner is new and you’re both suddenly finding yourselves spending an unexpected amount of time together at home, respecting each other’s privacy and not interrupting them during me-time is key. Give yourselves the room to miss each other a little—it makes the hours together that much more special. 

Super Plush Towel in Smoke | ALIGN : RIGHT

Quarantining solo

You exist entirely in the virtual world now; of Skype meetings, Facetime catch-ups, and Instagram Live streams. It can be enough to make a girl spin out—but only if you let yourself get too engrossed. Balance out your digital existence by getting in touch with your physical self: whether that’s cooking yourself a gourmet meal (date night for one? YES PLEASE,) going for a run, or taking a bath. Really, now is the perfect time to reset your self-care routine so when we all come out of these cocoons, you’re feeling at the top of your game. 

Use your flexible hours to get a work-out in midday—after all, you won’t have to go back to work sweaty! Give your skin a break from makeup and let your hair recover from products in the privacy of your own home. You may find you don’t want or need to go back to your former routine once you give your body space to reset. In a time when health is top-of-mind for us all, self-love and feeling comfortable with being alone are the greatest tools we can give ourselves. 

Written by Mallory Abreu

Mallory is a writer currently based in Des Moines, Iowa, where she works as a home design editor for Better Homes & Gardens. This New England native began her career at the Boston Globe covering music and arts beats, and has since had her work featured in Boston Magazine, Magnolia Journal, BH&G, and other national publications. Catch her playing piano and ogling old homes in her free time. View her portfolio at and follow her on IG at @mal.abreu.

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