Nobody could have foreseen the strange and challenging times we are all facing. Being quarantined in our own homes with a fear of what is to come is incredibly unsettling. We have uprooted our lives, turned our normal routines upside down and yet feel unable to DO anything about it. This sort of change can bring bubbling resentments to the top, it can cause people to lash out from stress or anxiety. How do you keep your family together and at peace as we face a pandemic?
1.) Make Time
If there is one thing we’ve got during a quarantine, it’s time. Turn the TV, computer, and phone off, and make time to listen to your family members. It may only be ten minutes, but it will be ten minutes that gives permission to talk tomorrow and the day after, and the day after.
2.) Family Meeting
Let’s face it, we have plenty of time to take a moment and come together as a family. Whether you are facetiming with each other or have the ability to huddle around a family room now is the time to check in and see how everybody is doing. This is a time to share fears, concerns, worries and questions. Give others the space to say hard things and instead of arguing or reacting, focus on listening and hearing what they are experiencing and feeling during this time of uncertainty.
Talk with children about what is really going on, we have never been through this before, we don’t have many answers, but that we are not alone. Reassure children that you will continue to keep them informed and give them space to air their own fears and concerns. Give them time to ask questions and answer them calmly and honestly. Remember, “I don’t know” is a fine answer.
You might find this meeting produces other conversations about topics that weren’t intended but still beneficial. Family meetings are a great time to connect but also to sync up on values, priorities and important things going on in each other’s lives.
2.) Your Partner
Whether you have experience working from home together or not, uncertainty can put any marriage or partnership to the test. Take the time to talk one-on-one. What are your fears? How do you see the two of you working together at home? How will the family function during this time? Make a plan. Connect personally with your partner. Share your feelings and worries. You will not feel the same way or have the same energy or patience at any given moment. Give each other the opportunity to feel and think independently. Support the other by actively listening and not internalizing their current mood. In close quarters, healthy emotional boundaries are important.
3.) A Schedule
It is easy to fall into an “anything goes” approach to daily life when our normal social structures have been erased. Everyday can feel like a weekend but since our quarantine will probably last for a while it is important to create your own daily structures. Establish a family wake up time. Have everybody get dressed. Mealtimes and work times can be clearly delineated. Consider starting some new traditions; family game nights, card games, movie nights, rotating who cooks dinner, etc.
It is hard to predict what the future will hold. But take this moment to focus on each other. This is an opportunity to heal hurts, build bonds, and invest in the love of your family.