Most of us yearn for vacation time off, and we know that means more time with our family. However, suddenly, we are thrust in this very real scenario of staying home with our family indefinitely, while still working full time, home schooling our children, and maybe under stressful financial conditions. How does your family function in this new normal? And how do you make the best of the situation without it exploding?
- Be patient with one another and your children. This may be the first time you spent this much time together since you were dating. With the added stress of working from home, stay-in-place orders, and threats of illness, tensions can run high. The good news is first and foremost, patience is in you, so find your patience. Be reminded that you are with family, the most precious group of people in the world to each other. The second piece of good news is, there are tons of resources out there including tele-counseling services, domestic violence hotlines, resources to help you deal with anger and stress, 911 emergency services, many people who can put you in touch with the help your family needs. See these links for additional information about domestic violence resources and prevention: Nccadv.org has a comprehensive list of help, providers, grants and their contact information; Wake County’s interactofwake.org 919-828- 7740 (crisis hotline); Johnston County’s harborshelter.org 919-631-5478 (crisis hotline); Franklin County’s ncsafespace.org 919-497-5444 (crisis hotline).
- Find some alone time and let the other person have some alone time. Each of us recharges in our own way, whether it is playing a video game, watching a movie, reading a book, perusing online shopping sites, taking a nap or a long shower/bath, talking to family on the phone, exercising, giving yourself a mani/pedi or taking a walk. Whatever it is, it helps alleviate stress, process emotions and relax your body. Take a break each day, and if tensions are high, take a break immediately. Give the other person space, even if it is just the personal space to be uninterrupted for a little bit of time. Carve out alone time to recharge yourself for some portion of every day. That may mean splitting homeschool responsibilities or other tasks. It is absolutely acceptable to sit down with a smile, ask/explain your alone time needs and agree on a reasonable time. The most important part of this paragraph is that both people accommodate the other person’s alone time each day.
- Find balance by sharing the house workload. We already said recharging is great and necessary, but the household and family must run. When folks are now at home for an extended period of time, whether from a stay-home order or on vacation, the normal household workload imbalance becomes evident and likely needs to be readjusted. Your family may need a schedule to identify remote work and homeschool schedules, the need for regular breaks, and the time savings avoiding commutes. It may be time to also have a civil discussion about the distribution of tasks and responsibilities like splitting home school subjects, child supervision hours, alternating dinner responsibilities, etc. It can be a give and take thing: take some tasks from the other person and give some tasks to the other person! Find balance so that each person does not feel that they carry an unfair share of the house workload.
- Be kind and Say kind words. This is your family and truly, they are your biggest investment of your time and resources. Find the best in each family member and share your feelings with them. Compliment and thank each person for small and big things. Spread kindness and let that be the most contagious thing in your household. If your house is under stress due to job loss, illness, etc., you are not alone. Tensions can run high, for example, if there are financial strains on the family, yet saying kind words costs nothing. And stress may cause people to say and do things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment. Be aware of your actions, tone and your words, seek out resources to cope with stress and anger, avoid overusing alcohol or drugs, and gather your patience. Practice saying kind words and express your love and respect for the ones you are with.
- Follow good parenting practices. Keeping your home life civil and peaceful extends to your children as well. A recent study following children 70,000 children over 70 years found that secret to raising successful children is what we have heard time and again: Talk and listen to your children; make it clear that you have ambitions for their future; be emotionally warm to them; teach them letters and numbers; take them on excursions; read to them daily and encourage them to read for pleasure; maintain a regular bedtime (Pearson, Helen). Children are figuring out relationships with pets, friends and authority figures. In close quarters, children are learning how to cope with stress and concerns, and they trust you to keep them safe. Taking care of yourself, your significant other and your children are your greatest short- and long-term investments.
The Life Project, Helen Pearson: https://helenpearson.info/book/the-life-project/
See also Ms. Pearson’s Ted Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/helen_pearson_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_human_development?language=en
While this is by no means an exclusive list of strategies, they include some great ways to maintain civility and keep your family on peaceful terms during an extended period of time like a stay-in-place order or vacation period. If some of these strategies become a routine or habit, that is even better. For more information, please check out our website at https://triangledivorcelawyers.com or call us at 919-303-2020.