As the pandemic continues and many states face fresh new rounds of lockdowns, NSW families have been coming to terms with spending far more time together than they perhaps normally would. A positive attitude, focusing on the benefits of this new reality can help everyone stay buoyant in the weeks and months ahead.
Despite its many challenges, lockdowns can provide an opportune time to think of constructive ways to bolster being connected as a family – as well as finding ways to have your own space.
Spending time together
While many families are used to spending some time together, it can take some adjusting to being under the same roof 24/7. To help you navigate these uncharted waters, here are some fun and constructive ways to hang out with your nearest and dearest:
- Make having breakfast and dinner part of your daily routine as this is an important time to sit and chat. Use this occasion to talk to your children about how they are feeling. Find time to check in with your partner, too.
- Think of fun and festive things to do on the weekend such as using your front yard or driveway as a spot to put camping chairs and a fold out table to have drinks, snacks and watch the neighbourhood.
- Have one day where everyone dresses up in bright colours; you can choose a different hue each week.
- Decide on a renovation project or tidy-up job that everyone can be involved in, such as cleaning out a spare room or painting an old table and chairs you want to revamp.
- Ask everyone to suggest a new dish to cook every week, or organise a virtual dinner party or cook-off with good family friends.
- As well as finding onscreen video games you can all enjoy indoors, play games outside such as hide and seek, throw a Frisbee or make up your own cricket or football teams.
- Find a sitcom, comedy or family-friendly TV or streaming show you can all watch.
- Ask the family to dance to their favourite music and don’t be afraid to be silly. It’s a great way to have a laugh and do some exercise at the same time.
- If you’re brave enough – cut and colour each other’s hair, or for a less drastic option, give each other a manicure.
- Set up a regular phone or video chat to keep everyone in touch with other family members, such as siblings living away from home, cousins or grandparents.
Spending time apart
While you may all be physically spending more time in the living room and kitchen, everyone will probably also need to find ways to be own their own throughout the week, mostly within the confines of being at home.
That could include:
- Wearing noise-cancelling headphones.
- If you have the space, setting up a separate room for kids and adults to hang out in
- Going for a walk on your own
- Washing the car
- Making time each week to devote to your own hobbies such as crafts, baking, reading, sewing, playing an instrument, gardening, singing, painting or drawing.
Naturally, you can be super creative at coming up with ideas to keep yourself and everyone occupied, but you may also face days when you (or someone in your family) is not doing so well as we live with restrictions. That’s pretty normal.
If you notice a change in behaviour or a family member says that they are worried, upset, anxious, unsettled or sad, you may want to spend some one-on-one time with them to explore their feelings further and to answer any questions they may have about what is going on. If possible, don’t sweep current events under the carpet. You may end up feeling that you or your family needs support. Relationships Australia NSW is offering free over-the-phone counselling to any family or couple who are struggling and need to talk during this time.
Inevitably, there will be times when family members or your partner will get on your nerves. During these moments, it’s good idea to take a few deep breaths and step away from the situation until you have calmed down and feel better.
Try to keep in mind that if everyone in your family is in good health and generally doing well, you’re winning.
If you would like to organise some over-the-phone counselling with one of our counsellors, please email email@example.com or call 1300 364 277. We are continuing to offer our usual counselling services for couples, individuals and families over the phone and via video link.