When the pandemic first began earlier this year, it seemed like if we could just hunker down until perhaps summer, things would get better and we’d be able to get back to life as usual (or at least something similar to life as usual). We were in survival mode: we cut corners and made do, broke some parenting rules, and otherwise made choices we would never usually make. Because that’s what you do when you are in survival mode.
It’s now very clear that the pandemic is here for at least this school year, and survival mode is taking on a whole new meaning. It’s time to make new habits and routines specifically for the pandemic. It’s time to make better and more durable choices that can help keep us healthier — and happier.
Some things obviously aren’t about choices. If you have lost loved ones, are struggling financially, are living in a dangerous situation, or if you or anyone in your family is having thoughts of self-harm, please reach out for help. Your doctor may be able to direct you to resources in your community.
What I am talking about is practical, daily life choices that we can make in a different way that may help us feel and live better. Be proactive — and do it as a group activity with your partner and family, so that everyone feels heard and invested.
Think about the past few months, and literally make a list of everything that was particularly hard. Lack of structure? Too much screen time for everyone? Problems getting kids to do their remote work? Problems getting your own remote work done? Feeling isolated from friends and family?
Work together to come up with ideas to tackle these pain points. They might include:
We really need this now; it is crucial, not optional. We need to be deliberate in this. Identify both things that people can do alone, and things that you can do together, and make them part of your routines. Maybe it’s some alone time for each of the adults, a date night (light some candles at a table after the kids go to sleep and put your phones aside), a family game night, some daily silliness… whatever makes you smile, build it in.
This too is crucial; it’s not something we can put aside anymore. For example:
We will make it through this. The choices we make today will make all the difference in who and how we are when we emerge — so let’s make them proactively, wisely, and with kindness.
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire
The post Managing the new normal: Actively help your family weather the pandemic appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.