VALLEY’s Survival Guide to Living at Home

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It’s many people’s worst nightmare: you’re forced to leave your freedom and independence in Happy Valley and return home to live with your parents. Whether you’re a freshman who has been away from home for less than a year, or a senior who’s now very accustomed to living on their own, it’s a hard adjustment no matter what your circumstances are.

Of course being home isn’t too bad, considering you have the comfort of home cooked meals and your childhood bedroom. Not to mention, some family time can be good for the soul. Even though there are obvious benefits, the nature of this quarantine makes it much more difficult to live at home than it would be normally. Spending so much time in close quarters with your family with few excuses to leave the house could drive anyone insane, so VALLEY is here to help. Here are our tips to survive this stay-at-home order until we can all hopefully return to State College in the fall.

Establish Boundaries

When you’re at school, you make your own rules; no one can tell you what to eat, when to go to bed, or when you should be doing your homework. Whether your parents are extremely strict or fairly lenient, they are still used to having some influence on your daily routine when you’re at home. This can be frustrating, especially since you did not anticipate being home during this time.

It’s important to have a conversation with your parents or guardians about boundaries. Of course you should always be respectful of the people you are living with, but you should still be able to carry on with your life without too much interference from your parents, guardians or siblings. Make it clear to your family that even though you’re home for the time being, you still have most of the responsibilities that come with being at school.

Inform your family of your weekly schedule so they know when you have classes or meetings. If they are aware of these times, it will be easier for them to give you the space you need. Also, set standards with your parents about when you will be eating and sleeping. Meetings, homework and exams can make it hard to be on the exact same time schedule as the rest of your family, so make sure they have the right expectations.

Find a New Routine

If you haven’t noticed by now, there is virtually no way to keep up with the same routine you had at school. You can no longer get your daily coffee at Starbucks, study at the library every night or see your friends for a meal or night out. Even though it may seem like the easy option to neglect routine entirely during quarantine, finding a new routine will help you stay sane and motivated.

Start by setting a time to wake up each morning. Yes, online classes make it easy to sleep all day and wake up whenever you please, but this is not a healthy habit to establish. One day we will be out of quarantine and when that happens, it’ll be much easier for you if you’re not accustomed to sleeping until the middle of the day.

Next, set aside time to exercise when you don’t have class. Now is a great time to get into fitness! Try some different workouts to find what will work for you. You could even try a fun partner workout with a family member.

Since you are living with your parents again, it’s important that you do spend some time with your family. Whether it’s eating a meal together or having a family game night, spending the right amount of quality time will make it easier to get along with everyone in your household.

One of the most important parts about establishing your new routine is keeping up with your classes. It may be tempting to skip your online classes or your club Zoom meetings, but you will regret slacking off now when you do return to school in the fall. Attending your classes and your meetings will make your days feel somewhat normal, and it will help you stay on track for next semester! Also, try to do homework at the same time you did when you were at school. This will make it easier to get back into your regular routine in the fall.

Take Care of Yourself

Even though we may seem to have all of the time in the world to practice self-care in quarantine, it is important nonetheless. This pandemic is taking a toll on the mental health of most people, so take time each day to check in with yourself. Some days will be worse than others and you need to have healthy coping mechanisms for handling the stresses of this unsettling time. Going on drives or practicing meditation are both great examples that are practical and not destructive.

Knowing when to say no is an essential part of caring for your mental health. If you don’t want to watch another movie with your family or go on yet another neighborhood walk, be able to say no and put yourself first. Your family likely knows that this is an especially difficult situation for college students, so they will understand if you need to have a night in by yourself. This also applies to your friends — don’t feel the need to constantly be on Zoom or FaceTime if you don’t feel like it. Your friends are there for you now and they will be there for you when quarantine is lifted.

Keep Yourself Busy and Try New Things

Let’s be honest, we’ve all spent our fair share of time in quarantine moping about our current situation. Now that you’ve gotten this out of your system, start keeping yourself busy! The more you can do to distract yourself and occupy your time, the faster this quarantine will go. Going back to our second tip, having a set routine will ensure that you stay on top of your school work, but it is also helpful to find some hobbies.

Even if you’re swamped with projects or assignments, the lack of social interaction that comes with the stay-at-home order means that everyone has some free time on their hands. Instead of laying around and indulging in sadness, brainstorm a list of things you’ve always wanted to try or spend some time on. Whether this be writing, making art, organizing your room or learning how to cook, there are so many activities that will make you feel like you’re not wasting time in quarantine.

We may never experience another event like this where we are forced to stay isolated in our homes, so take advantage of it! You will feel so much better about yourself if you come out of quarantine with new skills or passions. You never know, you may discover a hidden talent you, or a passion that you want to pursue further when this is all over.

Do you have any survival tips for living at home during quarantine? Tweet them to us at @VALLEYmag!

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