Enforced Togetherness

photo-1576089073624-b5751a8f4de9Dr. Corinne Masur

One of the hardest things about this pandemic, other than the anxiety it creates, is the forced home stay. Couples who aren’t used to spending long stretches of time together are suddenly together 24/7. Parents who have never even considered home schooling are having to do just that. Children who are used to the structure and routine of school are home all day, where the refrigerator is always available and where they can say “NO!” in a way they’d never dare to with their teacher.

Nerves can fray. Anger is coming up between partners, between children and parents, between siblings.

It’s extremely hard: There is literally no way to completely take a break from each other for more than a short time.

How to survive?

Here are a few suggestions.  If you have others, please let us know!

  • If you’re parenting as a couple, communicate with your partner. Each evening, go over the schedule for the next day (as our last post suggested) and see where each of you needs “dedicated time” to yourself.  This means where you ABSOLUTELY need time without interruption. Even if you’re angry with each other, try to work together on this.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for the time you need– this includes time for work as well as AT LEAST a one hour break each day to take a walk, exercise, talk to a friend, or write in a journal. Frankly, two to three hours for each person would be better.
  • TAKE TURNS. While one of you home schools, entertains the children, or cooks, the other gets time to do what they need. Try to divide it evenly. If one partner is used to having the other do the bulk of the child care or house work, this will come as a shock and friction may ensue.  But try to make it equal anyway.
  • If you’re feeling angry with your partner, your children, the situation, whatever: Don’t hold it in.  Talk to a friend, write in a journal, and after you’ve calmed down, find a way to talk with the person you are angry with, keeping it matter-of-fact and civil.
  • Get out of the house. Either as a family or individually, get outside at least twice a day. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or cold or hot– for your mental and physical health, you need to do this. Stay out for at least a half hour each time.
  • If your children don’t want to go out, entice them.  Offer one of the following:
    1. A scavenger hunt in the back yard– have them look for things you’ve hidden or things in nature. Give then a container and let them hunt!
    2. A bike or scooter ride. You can jog alongside or bike with them.
    3. A snack or much desired treat after you come back in. Make cocoa or bake something together. Let them watch a video.
  • Lose the GUILT!  If you let your children watch more video these days, let yourself feel OK about it.  This will not ruin them intellectually or socially.  Everyone needs a break from each other these days, and if this is the way you get one for them or for yourself, it’s FINE. Up to 3 hours a day under these circumstances is fine.  And if they need to use the computer for homework or even a few video games above and beyond the 3 hours, so be it.  Just don’t have them online all day without exercise or going outside!

Take care and try to stay well during this difficult time.



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