Just about everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. For couples with kids, the added stress of homeschooling (even while working full-time from home), raised tensions from close and frequent contact, and generalized anxiety about the uncertain times can seem overwhelming.
To avoid getting overwhelemed during this transition—and to help your children feeling overwhelmed, too—consider the following suggestions, inspired by pediatricians, licensed marriage and family therapists, and other experts.
7 Ways to Support Your Family (And Your Marriage) During COVID-19
1. Make routines—and allow your children to participate.
Routines help children feel safe and secure and gives them a reliable framework to help them explore, learn, and grow. So, avoid making quarantine and social distancing a time for chaos. Establish reaosnable routines as a family that everyone can follow (and feel free to change your routines on the weekends to establish a sense of normalcy).
2. Answer your kids’ questions.
Tell with your children (especially older school-aged kids and teens) that it’s okay to have questions about what they’re hearing on the news or from their friends. Address their concerns as best as possible to avoid unnecessary misinformation or anxiety.
If you don’t know the answer to something, or if you’re not emotionally prepared to have that kind of conversation at the moment, let them know you’ll get back to them after finding out the information or when you’re better able to talk.
3. Take care of your health.
Kids are often very attuned to what’s going on around them and can easily sense your and your partner’s energy—even if they don’t fully understand it.
So, be sure to take good care of your physical and mental well-being right now. You don’t need to become a strict health nut. But you can lead by example by prioritizing good sleep, good food, daily movement, and a regular mindfulness or spiritual practice. In doing so, you stay more in control of your emotions and energy levels, which makes you less likely to respond negatively or “blow up” at your kids or spouse.
4. Use space-based and time-based boundaries.
In addition to setting clear and reasonable routines, establish boundaries for everyone within your home to help maintain respect and calm. Boundaries to suggest or discuss may include:
- When and where work and school activities are done
- Media and/or screen-free times
- When and where to have discussions about COVID-19 or anything related to the pandemic
- Alone time and together time
5. Cherish one-on-one time with your partner.
As best as you can, create pockets of one-on-one time to share with your partner throughout the day and week. Re-connecting with each other physically and emotionally helps strengthen your bond, ease stress, avoid and resolve conflict, and allow you to be the parents you need to lead your household through this challenging time.
6. Try to recognize and support each other through your grief.
You and your partner may be grieving the loss of a job, income, sense of security, or perhaps even an ill loved one. But your children may also be grieving, too. They may be missing school, teachers, friends, and favorite activities.
Let your kids know it’s okay to talk about what they’re feeling, and that whatever they’re feeling is allowed. Alo let them know it’s okay to ask for help—or better yet, show them by being able to ask for the help you need.
Try not to repress what you’re feeling just so you can “be strong” for the family. When you’re feeling burned out, seek support—whether from your spouse, your kids, your kids’ teachers, a mental health professional, or anyone else who can be there for you.
7. Create plenty of opportunities to bond as a family.
There’s no question that many families will look back on this time as a tremendous moment in their life when they were able to spend a lot of quality time together. As hard as it may feel some days, find the fun, joy, and laughter as you can. Laughing eases stress, boosts your immune health, and promotes a sense of connection with others.
So: watch funny movies, have dance parties, host family “challenges” or game nights, or do whatever else your household loves to do to kick back and spend time with each other.
Do you need help negotiating the unprecedented challenges your family is facing right during the COVID-19 pandemic? Contact Couples Thrive if you live near Fort Lauderdale, FL and are looking for a licensed marriage and family therapist to speak with soon. Be sure to ask about televisits so you can get the counseling you want while honoring social distancing practices.