The coronavirus has turned the world upside down. It’s taken many lives, caused the economy to plummet in ways never seen before, and confined our day to day life in the most literal sense. However, there is a silver lining—-it’s allowed us to have more time with our loved ones. Although most people would say that it’s a good thing, many struggle to create an environment in which they can enjoy spending time with their family while juggling work, spending time with their partner, homeschooling, and completing chores. I’ve come up with a short list of things that can potentially help you find that sweet balance.
Have a routine:
Just because you don’t physically go to work, it doesn’t mean you should give up on having a routine. During an unsettling time like this, the more we can adhere to some sense of normalcy, the better. If that means you have to sit down with your partner to coordinate hour by hour what the day should look like and distribute tasks, the family is still better off because you’ll be more productive and less stressed.
All the gyms are closed and some people may use that as an excuse to stop taking care of their body. Not only is it a bad idea physically, it’s also a bad idea emotionally and relationally. Exercising makes you feel good which leads to stress reduction. It also means you’ll have more patience with your partner. The truth is we’re not used to seeing our partner this much and an extra layer of patience goes a long way.
It’s true that you can’t hang out with your friends, but it doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. Have a Facetime call with your parents. Zoom with your friends. In fact, this maybe the perfect opportunity to reconnect with people that you’ve thought about calling up before but never did. Show that you care and chances are you’ll receive it back.
Pick up new skills:
If you find yourself having a lot of extra time, rather than just watching Netflix or playing Animal Crossing hours on end, pick up some new skills. It can be related to your career development or it can be a random but fun hobby. While there’s nothing wrong with entertainment, too much of it will make us feel unproductive and can potentially lead to self doubt and low confidence.
Me time Vs. Us time:
As I mentioned above, most of us aren’t used to seeing our partner this much, so when we’re confined in the home 24/7, there’s a lot more potential for tension and friction. My recommendation is to map out what “me time” and “us time” look like and see how you can fit them into the routine. For example, you may want to go for a morning run while your partner takes care of the kids. Or plan to cook together twice a week as a way to share the experience rather than just serve the function of feeding the family. Remember, you and your partner have different needs. Let’s make sure you create an open space to talk about the needs and address them accordingly.
Create quality time with your partner:
Being in each other’s presence is very different than spending quality time. Sit down with your partner to decide on activities that are mutually satisfying even if it means you need to take turns deciding or give in to your partner’s preference at times. But allow that willingness to accommodate each other’s needs to be present, so there’s a healthy give and take in the relationship.
No matter how much you love your partner, there’s a high chance of conflict and tension when people are confined in their home for long periods of time. As a result, knowing how to resolve conflicts effectively will be key to having a peaceful long term relationship. One solid piece of advice I’d offer is respecting your partner’s need for space to process during shelter in place. People no longer have the luxury to blow off steam by going out to spend time with their friends or going to the gym, so it’s understandable that it may take a bit longer for us to cool down from an emotional interaction. Give it extra time. But make sure to eventually come back to it so you can discuss it more calmly and thoroughly. Otherwise, you run the risk of ignoring a potential pattern of problematic interactions.
Let’s face it, the shelter in place order has brought a lot of stress to most of us, but that’s what we have to do. It’s best for our health; it’s best for our community; it’s best for the world. The question is whether we can take advantage of the extra time that we have at home with our loved ones. Much of what’s going on in the world is out of our control, but let’s take control of what happens in our home by bringing more mindfulness into our planning. By keeping the tibits above in mind, I hope you’ll feel more equipped in enjoying your family life while riding out this storm.