Day Nine – Pressing the Re-Set Button on Your Family Life During Social Isolation
Recognize that this is hard. These days may seem long. Making all the lists in the world does not help the work get done, the structure implemented and the values applied. Some days will just suck.
Moods, loneliness even when amongst the family, loss or reduction of connections with peers, sports, teachers, co-workers will take its toll. Recognize this and take a break. Pyjama days, Netflix marathons or extra screen time will be necessary. And that is ok. Fatigue will set in. Neither parents nor kids are required to be perfect. Just stop doing for a while.
These days are a gift (even though some days that feels like a stretch). Never before have we collectively had such a large chunk of time where we are ALL at home, without the normal day-to-day pressures being applied. It takes a while to get out of the achievement headspace (I MUST do something, I NEED to do this, I HAVE to get this done). Relax. Forgive yourself. We have NEVER BEEN THROUGH A PANDEMIC BEFORE! This is a choose your own adventure kind of thing!
Keep an eye out for emotions and talk about them. It will not be uncommon for many people (adults and kids alike) to feel sad, lonely, depressed and hopeless. This will happen, even in a house full of people who love us. Encourage connections with friends, co-workers and extended family. Ride the waves of emotions, and remember, that professional help is still out there, offered virtually.Learn More
Day Four – Bumps in the Road: Applying Values and Family Rules to Your Day to Day.
This is the hard part. Start by acknowledging that NOBODY is perfect.
Parents will screw up, and kids will screw up. When we are hurt, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, we are ripe for screw-ups. Think about this (and teach your kids to as well). When you are feeling like you are “losing it”, ask yourself these HALT questions:
Am I Hungry
Am I Angry
Am I Lonely
Am I Tired
I also add an “O”…Am I Overwhelmed!
If you are any one, a few, or ALL of the above, walk away and don’t try to hash it out. Talk about this, and think about the concepts of emotional regulation and forgiveness. Can you make it acceptable and even encouraged to “walk away” from a disagreement or conflict without being accused of avoiding? Calmer heads prevail. How families manage conflict is a life-long lesson that will foster communication, connection and will serve children well outside of the family.
Are you someone who feels the need to “hash it out” when there is a disagreement, or are you someone who needs to “walk away” and think?Learn More
Day Two – Pressing the Re-Set Button on Your Family Life During Social Isolation
Take some time to think about the vision you have for your family. Think back to when you looked at your sweet, delicate infants for the first time. I am sure you had dreams for your babies from day one. You jumped ahead to the distant future, picturing them as an astronaut, a physician or a judge. However, once reality kicked in, you knew that you needed to examine your family values and think about how you were going to instill the good habits, self-discipline and other characteristics such as empathy, sensitivity and kindness into that little human.
Then, the small person started to develop a mind of their own. You worked hard all day and had to dig deep to be consistent with applying the rules and guidelines you put in place in order to teach and instill those values. Your little human went to school, and then learned that there were plenty of people out there who did not share the same values, which set up a whole new set of obstacles for raising that well-rounded, self-disciplined, kind and caring human. Oh yeah, then they discovered the internet…
Fast forward to today. We are settling into a new lifestyle. Our world has slowed down, and we are limiting our contacts. Opportunities to re-acquaint ourselves with our families abound. Let’s talk tips for pressing the re-set button in your family and using this time to build strength.
Rethink the values. Have a discussion with your family about what you value. Use this link to download a list of values: Exploring Values, Values List
Instructions: Take a half-hour at the dining room table to place these values in the “Absolute, not-up-for-discussion” pile, the “Nice to have, but not on top of the heap”, and finally the “Nice, but not important to us pile”. Next, review the piles, make sure your absolutes are clear and then pick your top ten and rank them. Those, my friends, are your family values.
P.S. If you really want to have fun, have everyone do their list independently and then reconvene to see what you came up with, and THEN figure out your top ten. This may take awhile…however consensus building helps foster co-operation, respect and the ability to agree to disagree.
Once you have your values secure, keep them on the fridge or in a central location. Littles or the more creative among you can create a poster using colour and images. You can frame it and everyone will commit to look at it EVERY SINGLE DAY.
How did you do? Did you learn anything about your family and the values that you hold individually and collectively?Learn More
Pressing the Re-Set Button on Your Family Life During Social Isolation
So here we are, settling into Covid Family Life. This is a time marked with uncertainty as to where this is going, and for how long. Most of us have experienced the roller coaster of emotions associated with this experience. From shock, to sadness, depression, anxiety and back through again. Hopefully, you are moving into accepting this situation for what it is today, and are now thinking about how you are wanting to travel through it as a family.
Ironically, as difficult as this time is to endure, many people have enjoyed the slowed pace and the ability to really enjoy each other, and think about putting some family habits and systems in place that we have lagged on a little. You can do this too! But you need to follow the first guiding rules:
- NOBODY, NO FAMILY, NO PARENT is perfect
- Be forgiving of yourself and each and every member of the family as they adjust to these times and struggle to manage emotions
- Be patient. Change takes time.
Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to provide some tips for helping and even improving your family dynamic during our social (read physical) distancing. We are hoping that this will be a virtual family therapy of sorts. You don’t have to be dysfunctional, riddled with conflict or in crisis to need family therapy! In fact, it is our belief that every family could benefit from using these tips to open conversation and foster connection.