As the pandemic continues, families may still find themselves spending far more time together than they normally would. Here’s how to ease any tensions before they arise, and see the positives to this added family time.
There have been many challenges involved with staying home throughout the pandemic – whether that’s been due to lockdowns, being sick or staying home to avoid COVID-19. While many families are used to spending some time together, it may have been an adjustment to be under the same roof almost 24/7.
Striking a balance between spending time together and having enough time apart will help families to navigate this time.
Spending quality time together
It can be easy to avoid thinking about how you want to spend time together as a family, and just focus on getting through the days. While this is very understandable, being intentional about some of the time you spend together can help create a better family dynamic. Here are some ways to connect:
- 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
- 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 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
- 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 on their own throughout the week.
Ways to do this could include:
- Wearing noise-cancelling headphones and having a conversation about this signifying that alone time is needed
- 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
- Making time each week to devote to your own hobbies such as crafts, baking, reading, sewing, playing an instrument, gardening, singing, painting or drawing
What to do if you are finding this time challenging
While you can be super creative at coming up with ideas to keep yourself and everyone occupied, you may also face days when you or someone in your family is not doing so well. That’s totally 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. Help them explore their feelings further and answer any questions they may have about what is going on. If possible, don’t sweep current events under the carpet. If you feel like you or your family needs support, Relationships Australia NSW offers individual and family counselling, both face-to-face at our centres, and online
Inevitably, there will be times when family members or your partner will get on your nerves. During these moments, it’s a good idea to take a few deep breaths and step away from the situation until you’ve 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 are finding this time particularly challenging, consider speaking to one of Relationships Australia NSW’s counsellors. Get in contact today.