Part one of this blog series focused on the impact of the coronavirus on families with young adults in the home or returning to the home from schools that have closed down. This blog will focus on tangible actions that family members can take to manage this new reality effectively. David Brooks, a writer for the New York Times, studied pandemics and found that unlike wars that may bring people together, pandemics tend to drive people apart. Required social distancing goes against our nature as relational human beings. We all need to make special efforts to support each other even while we are distancing.
What to Do in Quarantine
Let’s identify some things families can do when in lock down. These are just some random ideas and I would invite parents and young adults to send me other activities that are working and successes you are having. Here’s a beginning list of actions families can take:
Start with creating a venue where people can discuss their concerns and issues as well as their ideas of what would be helpful in a period of quarantine. Have a rule that anyone can be critical and bring up a concern, but that person must propose a solution as well. This meeting could be meeting after dinner one night a week where, before raising issues, each member has to come up with one observation of what has gone well in the last week. Rotate a notetaker and capture any actions you decide. At the next meeting, review these decisions and adjust as necessary. For ideas on how to run family meetings, Google family meetings with adolescents and young adults. Discuss the best ideas and get input from family members to put together your own unique family meeting guidelines. End the time with the practice of gratitude, naming one thing you most appreciate about the family.
Create some structure in the time that families are together and apart within the house. For instance, designate a time during the day could as work time- online classes, reading, decluttering, organizing, and work around the house. All family members can have privacy and space to do their work. Lunches could be on your own, but all family members are encouraged to eat dinner together. Use the time to check in with each other and how the day has gone. Some evenings can be for family time but not all evenings.
Family time activities to explore could include board games, electronic games (Xbox); don’t expect to win right away, parents. One or two nights could be movie nights with popcorn. Send me ideas for the best movies with a family message. Each family member gets a turn to choose a movie. Ted talks are a great way to bring people together around an important subject. They typically can prompt some meaningful discussion. Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on “vulnerability” would be timely to how family members might be feeling with this coronavirus.
It’s an excellent opportunity to pursue a hobby like painting or a musical instrument or learn a foreign language. The internet has many courses, and YouTube has instructions on almost any skill one would want to develop. You can award a prize might for the one who has demonstrated the most commitment and progress on a hobby.
Anxiety and depression are potential risks in dealing with this virus. Exercise is a demonstrated antidote to these two mental health risks. Use of exercise equipment in the home or pull a routine off the internet that doesn’t require equipment or get out for a walk every day will lift our spirits. Take walks with different family members so that you have some time to talk about the day and how things are going.
On handling the responsibilities at home, members could sign up for specific jobs or create a job jar that people pull one or two jobs out a day and complete these. One can trade job if another agrees. Find a way to avoid repeated nagging.
Social media, which has been the butt of much criticism, may now be a godsend. Digital connections may not take the place of the face to face contact and touch we desire, but we can still make connections and share our lives with others. I changed a lunch meeting with my best friend this week from a restaurant to a phone conversation while we ate in our respective homes. Zoom is an excellent tool for bringing a group of people together for social support. I am in a book club and will be suggesting that we use this medium to meet. I will have the comfort of my recliner and my cup of coffee while I connect with people in this book club. We need to allow and support the connection between our kids and their friends and not take away this resource as a punishment.
College students returning and teens at home with parents in a quarantine state is totally unprecedented. Our kids need us, and we need them. We have to learn to make this work. We also need to share our experience and successes so other families can make this work as well.
Please email me what you are learning so I can share with other parents: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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