Suddenly, everyone in your household is doing his or her thing from home. You are working remotely as is your spouse/partner. Your daughters, the college student and the eleven-year-old, are completing their classes online. Each of you are competing for space, time, internet access and more. Here are some useful tips to use RIGHT NOW that can help you and your family navigate these waters.
Call a Family Meeting. Gather everyone together as quickly as possible and create a list of everyone’s needs. What do they need in terms of working space, quiet time, supplies, etc.? Next, draft a few simple rules that you jointly agree to follow. Now is not the time to dictate the rules as the parent. Your children’s lives are being disrupted as much as yours so including them in the decision-making process will help them stick to the rules and keep some peace in the household.
Everyone needs space. Of course, those family members who are earning income need to have a space conducive to transacting business, but your children’s educations are also important. The natural tendency may be to assume that one individual should get the prime space in the house all to herself. If possible, find a way to rotate so that several people can take turns working at a quiet place with some natural and without interruption. For example, if you don’t have calls in the afternoon, give your office space to someone else who needs to be able to have a closed door between them and the rest of the household. Remember, while it is easier for the kids to work on a laptop all day while sitting on a bed, they too need a change of scenery to stay engaged in their studies. Don’t let age or hierarchy drive your arrangements. Do what is best in everyone’s interest where possible.
Ants in their pants. At some point, each family member will find themselves to be anxious, tense, irritable – you name it. Suddenly being forced to spend weeks on end with the same individuals, no matter how much you love them, is hard. Give your family members a break when they are crabby or antsy. Help them release this energy or emotion through activities that you can do together and separately to clear your heads. For example, let your children use your exercise equipment (supervise if needed) to burn off some energy. If you live in a suburban or rural area, get outside and walk around the block or the yard while maintaining social distancing. Think of some family activities (besides watching Netflix) that will be fun, engaging and will help everyone take their mind off being so close together.
We are living in a very serious time that can either bring us and our loved ones closer together or create more angst – it’s our choice. I choose together. What do you choose?