5 Ideas to Help You Foster Family Relationships Despite the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Recognize the Challenges
- Set a Schedule
- Get Outdoors
- Exercise More
- Use Technology Appropriately
Every day now, millions of families are stuck at home trying to figure out what to do and how to adapt to this temporary coronavirus pandemic. Maintaining social distance within a small household or a big family may be hard, but there are proven ways for family relationships to improve during difficult times like these.
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1. Recognize the Challenges
Every family situation and dynamics are different, but everyone is facing the same COVID-19 problems. This includes a loss of childcare and employment as well as preexisting health conditions, eldercare responsibilities and household item shortages. Everyone is experiencing some level of anxiousness and uncertainty of the situation. Consider starting a scheduled weekly family meeting where updates, concerns, and gratitude can be expressed. If adults are working from home, clear boundaries need to be set about quiet time and respecting workspaces.
2. Set a Schedule
Parents and caregivers with high-energy toddlers or bored teenagers will both benefit from establishing daily routines, rules, and responsibilities. Couples and single parents should figure out the plan before they come together to discuss it as a family. Focus on fairness, ask for input, respect personal preferences and be firm with chore and behavior expectations. Using a daily schedule with set hourly activities for play, study and screen time will minimize arguing and boredom. Independent children and teens may simply need a broader schedule, such as homework in the morning, chores in the afternoon and free time at night.
3. Get Outdoors
Many city, state and national parks are unfortunately closing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The National Park System has a news alert dashboard that can be searched by state and park for closures. Many public pools and school playgrounds are also being closed. Even the beaches are not safe if they attract large crowds. However, there are still plenty of local places to walk, bike, fish, explore and hike. Consider getting creative in the backyard by camping, gardening, building forts or just playing. Just remember to follow proper distancing and hygiene habits when outside.
4. Exercise More
Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) shows that there is a direct correlation between fitness, physical activity, and overall health. So many people buy gym memberships and never go, but working out at home or outside are the only options now. Per the Department of Health & Human Services, children and teens need one hour a day of moderate or vigorous activity, which includes aerobic, muscle and bone-strengthening activities. Adults need at least two to five hours a week. If you haven’t already, create a home gym or activity space.
5. Use Technology Appropriately
Being stuck at home can be a good opportunity for overworked adults to finally catch up on their favorite TV series while exploring new ones. A family can simultaneously watch the same movie in separate rooms or even separate homes while FaceTiming or Skyping each other. Parents should minimize playdates and urban outings, but they can help keep their children socially connected with friends and family. Consider scheduling video calls with relatives as well as encouraging children to message their friends and classmates. Adults can use this time to virtually re-connect with people who they have lost touch with.
Couples without children who are stuck at home will experience unique COVID-19 challenges. But there can be some benefits for couples who have historically struggled to get meaningful time together. With the slow-down in socializing and work, there can be deeper conversations and bonding activities.