Improving family relationships during COVID-19
We are all feeling increased levels of stress and anxiety during this coronavirus outbreak. In the United States we are not used to limitations on our desired activities. We are very accustomed to freely moving about and enjoying the restaurants, activities, and travel of our choosing. Oftentimes we don’t realize how blessed we are until something is taken away from us, and we are simply not used to having things taken away from us.
There is no doubt that families are feeling the stress of social distancing. Parents are trying to work from home while also supervising their children in a new and unfamiliar online educational format. Dad and Mom are probably a little grumpier with the gym closed and having to cook at home more. Kids are definitely getting bored and stir crazy, and all parents know what that leads to. One middle school boy made the following statement about 50 times during our recent counseling session, “There’s literally nothing to do!”
So I get it. Families are experiencing higher levels of stress in close quarters. Arguments and conflicts within households are increasing. But in times of change and crisis, there are new opportunities as well. And amidst all of the concerns in this stressful time, there are more opportunities to create quality time within your own family. Here are a few suggestions to get you started, but I’m sure you will be able to add your own creative ideas to the mix.
- Go for a walk or bike ride as a family
- Prepare a meal together
- Have a family meeting to discuss what has changed and how each person is impacted
- Play some board games or card games and wax and wane nostalgic about life before video games ruled the universe
- Build a fort out of materials around the house or in the garage
- Take turns playing each person’s favorite song
- Read a book out loud together
Last weekend my 12 year-old daughter hid my phone out of boredom. While I was mildly irritated, I played along as she said I would need to complete a scavenger hunt to find my phone. So I made my way around the house following her notes and clues, and she was quite entertained watching me fumble along. Her final note read, “I’m what everyone is trying to find.” I proceeded to the bathroom to find my phone tucked into the toilet paper rolls. She giggled, we hugged. Boredom produced a special moment. Maybe during this crisis your family can have some special moments too.
Michael Kragt, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and the executive director of Grace Counseling. He specializes in marriage and family therapy and in being a dad. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Mike, or any of our counselors, click here to request an appointment or call (720) 489-8555.