As self isolation becomes a reality for many of us, we are finding ourselves in long-term close quarters with our family and loved ones. Many of us used to complain we did not get enough time with those we love, and now we have that opportunity in abundance. Who better to be close to than our loved ones, and what better place to be together than the comfort of our own homes? Well, this much togetherness combined with an acutely stressful period in human history can make for some challenges as well as gifts.
Here are some tips on how to mange your relationship and family time during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Keep communication open and clear. Our communication needs to make space for everyone’s feelings and thoughts. None of us have experienced this before and we are all going to cope in different ways. Avoid assumptions on how others are feeling as that will only lead to resentment. Be accepting as there is no right or wrong way to feel. Ask questions, listen and do your best to understand what is going on for others. Let children ask questions and give them factual and empathic responses. This will not increase their anxiety, but rather it will increase connection and give a sense of security.
- Be open if you are struggling. These are trying times and we should not be candy coating this – not even to our children. Be real – but keep everyone’s developmental age and stage in mind when sharing your struggles. It is natural to feel overwhelmed, sad and afraid at some point. Normalize that this is a challenging and frightening time – but you have each other backs and you will work though the struggles together.
- Expect frustrations and be prepared to be annoyed. No matter how much we love someone, if we are spending a lot of time together, we will get annoyed by them. Do not hold each other to some sort of unattainable perfectionistic level of civility that you cannot maintain. Our family and loved ones evoke the biggest emotional responses out of us – so we can expect that there will be some arguments along the way. Move through the anger and get to resolution – which builds more intimacy in relationships.
- Put the big difficult conversations on hold. If you are in a situation where you have had relationship issues this is not the time to unpack these issues. During transitional times in relationships the whole family need space and support – so do not create unnecessary pressure during a highly stressful time. Choose battles carefully and keep respect and cooperation at the forefront of any relationship issues.
- Keep a sense of humour. It is good for us to laugh at ourselves and the absurdities in life. A good laugh can be our saving grace
- Designate different areas in your home. Establish boundaries between work and home. Try to have a separate space for work in your home. Get dressed for work and take breaks like you would at the office. It is good to be able to get up and walk away from your work sometimes – you will go back more refreshed and more efficient. Have a space for work, but also a space for family, a space to relax and private spaces as well. We all need time together, but we also need time alone. It is ok to have your private time – but it is also best to let other know when you just need some “me-time”.
- Establish routine. This is important as our brains like patterns. We want to make sure we are giving our brains predictable routines and patters to thrive within. Set a time for work, a time for play, a time for tasks, and a time for exercise/outside activity. Remember children need routine for their development – and so do we. Set a time for some daily oxygen intake as well. If you have a garden or yard or balcony go out on it! If you have a window open it. Breath and breath in deeply.
- Set goals. Set short term goals that will help you feel a sense of movement right now. Short term goals keep us feeling accomplished and give us a sense of mastery in these uncertain times. Set long term goals so we also stay future focused. This reminds us that there will be a time we look back on this.
- Have family projects. This is a great time to do some crafts, organize a family photo book, build something together or plan and cook a meal together. This enhances connection and builds a sense of accomplishment.
- Practice kindness and gratitude. Think of 3 things every day that you are grateful for and be kind to one another.