One of the most immediate ways the coronavirus outbreak has affected our daily lives is in how we relate to one another. Not only is there now a culture of suspicion and avoidance on the streets, but we’ve also been forced to live in close quarters for extended periods. Now, when a family would be either be at their respective jobs or school, those hours are spent together. It can be a big adjustment – especially for large households and those where tensions might naturally be running high. But it doesn’t have to be a hardship. Your family are your closest allies, and you can use this period of extended lockdown not only to further your own pursuits, but as opportunity to strengthen your family dynamic.
1. Respect Each Other’s Boundaries
Given how much collective time you’re going to be spending under the same roof, there is now a whole new meaning to the concept of respecting boundaries. Traditionally, in interpersonal relationships, they might refer to emotional boundaries. But in this context, it’s physical space that needs to be upheld more than anything. You’re going to need to spend some measure of time alone and understand that your partner and children will want to do the same, even when you may desire their company.
2. Understand the Circumstances You’re in Aren’t Ideal for Everyone
There can be a tendency during crisis situations to place yourself at the centre of the event. Your needs become paramount and supersede those of the people around you. But the reality is that everyone is the same boat. That means overly complaining about restrictions that everyone else has to live by isn’t going to create a harmonious atmosphere. Take a step back and recognise that everything isn’t always about your needs and empathise with your loved one’s challenges.
3. Focus on What You Can Do Rather Than What You Can’t Do
The surest way to make an undesirable situation even worse is by focusing on the negatives. It merely reinforces your circumstances and keeps you rooted in stress and anxiety, which can bring down the entire mood of your family. You may not be able to go to the cinema, attend football matches or go out to eat. But you can still go out on walks, bike rides and even play games indoors. Restrictions are only limiting if you allow them to be.
4. Use it as an Opportunity for Bonding You Wouldn’t Normally Have
For many people, family time can be scarce due to work commitments and differing schedules. There’s never been a better opportunity to bond with those you love and create a more meaningful connection. Although space is important, try taking an interest in your children’s pursuits, or even put together some casual but engaging learning exercises to keep their minds stimulated and offer them some real life lessons while off school.
5. Avoid Having Difficult Conversations About Matter That Can Wait
If you want to maintain a harmonious environment, you may have acknowledged that some things just aren’t that important right now. Small grievances and feuds may have to be put on hold if they’re going to be too disruptive. You no longer have the option to leave the house to ‘cool off,’ if you or your partner trigger each other, which can lead to further tensions. The last thing you want is to make self-isolating a more difficult situation than it already is.
6. Set a Positive Example to Your Children for How to React to Conflict
The attitude that both you and your partner display during this time of crisis will serve as a reference point for how your children respond or react to adversity in the future. It’s a prime opportunity to show them how to be calm, dignified and positive when faced with uncertainty. It may be hard to communicate the full scope of the crisis if you have children below the age of ten. But you can show them how patience is a virtue, and you can’t always get what you want.