Families are spending more time together due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Despite the year-long imposed togetherness, some families are still struggling with building stronger relationships. They may be together physically but school, work and the Internet still keep parents, children and siblings apart – despite being under one roof.
With the uncertainty of COVID-19, however, family is more important now than ever. Instead of staying separated in spirit, enjoy every moment by building stronger family relationships now. Whether it’s scheduling spa days with body scrubs and bubble baths or reading storybooks before bed, it’s important to set aside more time with each other.
As parents, it’s your responsibility to set an example to your children. So, instead of focusing too much on deadlines, shower your kids and your spouse with love and attention. As American Idol Kris Allen once sang, you have to live like your dying.
Where do you start?
Balance Work and Home Life Even at Home
Balancing home life with work has never been easy – even pre-COVID-19. Now that everyone’s at home, managing a proper work-home balance is more difficult. Most of the time, the line between work and chores is blurred when you’re balancing a Zoom meeting with a crying toddler. It can be exhausting. At the end of the day, you just want to lie down and leave the kids.
But there’s a better way to balancing work and home from home. How you manage it can make a difference in your relationship with your kids. For example, restrict your work hours to your schedule as much as possible. Once your shift is done, your shift is done. Focus all of your attention on the kids. Watch Disney movies with them. Talk about their favourite bands; if they like BTS, talk about BTS net worth or their favourite members. Dive into their world after work.
When it comes to chores during the day, partner with your spouse in creating a schedule. Who gets to do the dishes? Who cooks? A tag-team effort can help you manage the kids while you’re working from home.
Create a Sense of Certainty
The constant togetherness, while appreciated, can have others feeling overwhelmed or irritated. Instead of keeping it to yourself or telling off your kids constantly, have an agreement with who is going to use which parts of the home. For instance, you can apply this during the day, when you have to work AND look after the kids.
Maximize your physical space. Planning for some certainties includes planning for the day, alternating or sharing the use of space, being more aware of each other’s needs or just shaking up your routine. It may also help to distribute household tasks among members of the family. Having a daily and organized routine can help everyone feel more in control, especially in a time when everyone lost control over their daily lives.
Stepping outside for daily exercise can also help (as long as it’s safe for you and the kids). Walking and taking in some fresh air is good for your mental health.
Keep Listening and Talking
There should also be a time each day when everyone at home can express their feelings. For example, this family discussion can focus on what every member found most difficult and their blessing for that day.
Sharing feelings, without fear of being told off or criticized, can help the family feel calmer and closer to each other. Remember: everyone is affected by the pandemic and are feeling more anxious than usual. This includes your kids.
Give everyone time to express their thoughts and emotions. During this open time, assure your children by telling them it’s OK to be concerned and anxious. Go through all of their questions and concerns instead of dismissing their feelings and telling them it’s going to be fine. Also, let them know the facts. If kids have access to honest expectations, they’ll know it’s OK to talk about the pandemic, no matter how scary it is.
Join Together in Supporting Others
As a family, get involved in local efforts to support people who are struggling during the pandemic. Helping is good for the soul and it provides a good distraction for the kids. You can pack up donations at home before you send them to the local food bank. For your smaller kids, have them draw and colour cards to comfort the elderly in a nearby community for seniors.
The constraints due to COVID-19 will eventually end. In the meantime, you will be physically closer to your family, which is a good time to establish stronger relationships with one another. Come out of the pandemic stronger than before by talking, listening and caring for each other.