Easy apartment living with your family

Living in a small apartment with your family without stepping on each other's toes can be tricky. Here are some tips to making it a successful experience.

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  • There are benefits and drawbacks to living in an apartment home with your family. Anyone who has tried it understands that it can easily become overwhelming to fit a family into a small space. However, with some creative problem solving, your apartment experience can be a successful one. Here are some ways to make the most of it.

  • Respect each other’s personal space

  • One of the advantages of living together in a small area is the ability to get closer to one another. Still, everyone needs a place to get away and have private time. This can be especially difficult if children share a room, but it can be done. Use room dividers, or even schedule personal time, when the room is not to be disturbed. Ensuring that everyone has their own sanctuary, of sorts, gives family members a space to cool down, relax or unwind without being on top of someone else.

  • Draw physical boundaries

  • Room dividers and folding screens are a great solution to dividing spaces for more privacy. My children and I had to share a room for a year in a small one-bedroom apartment. We hung curtains across the top of their bunk beds so they would have a little space of their own. Bookshelves also act as a great way to section off part of a room. Get creative. Furniture you may use around the perimeter of a room in a larger home can be used in the middle of a room in an apartment to create a whole new space.

  • Downsize

  • Going through your possessions and donating what you don’t use can be very therapeutic. More often than not, our closets, drawers and shelves are laden with stuff we don’t need or don’t use. It’s hard to get started, but once you see how much space you’re saving, you are sure to enjoy the process.

  • Use storage space creatively

  • There are all sorts of amazing ways to use your space. For example, a good friend used her hall closet as an office by using the shelves for her computer, printer and books, and pulling her desk chair up to the closet when she was working. When she wasn’t working, she could close the closet door and put her work away. The desk chair wheeled into a corner in the living room. Other options are to install a lot of shelving — used decoratively as well as practically — for books, toys and electronic storage. Hooks over doors or on walls can be used to hang towels or clothing.

  • Everything has a place, everything in its place

  • Being organized and keeping your living space clean is especially important in apartment living. Toys, books or clothes strewn about a room will make the walls close in faster than anything else. Here again, you will need the whole family’s participation to make it work.

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  • Go outside

  • Many apartment complexes have playgrounds, swimming pools and fitness centers. Take advantage of the chance to spend afternoons at the park as a family. When living in small quarters, minimize the amount of time spent lounging around the house, and enjoy the great outdoors.

  • The challenges of living in an apartment with your family can be overcome. The most important thing to remember is that each family member respects the needs of the others in the house. This experience can be a great one for learning how to put each other’s needs above your own.

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Margaret Crowe is a poet and mother of two from Charlotte, North Carolina. 

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