WHEN THE KIDS ARE HOME, Part 2
In Part 1 of “When the Kids Are Home,” we looked at ways to counter the tight-quarters and boredom problems that typically surface for families spending extra time at home together. Here are some tips for tougher stay-at-home situations.
When There Are Economic Challenges
It’s no secret that when COVID-19 shutdowns were at their peak, lower-income households suffered the most from lost jobs and limited school options. Similar problems can beset any household where a parent is out of work and job-searching from home, or where kids are assigned to virtual schooling but the family lacks computer equipment. Coping hints:
- Understand that the larger financial situation will put everyone under extra stress, and take special precautions. Leave free time in every schedule; practice good eating, sleep, and fitness habits; and be understanding when someone is on edge.
- If you need a “stopgap” job, register with your employment commission for access to the best listings. If health concerns make service jobs (with their extensive public contact) a bad risk, focus on virtual-assistant or no-contact-delivery options.
- If you have a large family in a small apartment, find a way to give everyone some private space, even if that means keeping a sign-up sheet for “solo time” on the balcony. (Don’t limit your planning to “everyone gets the exact same amount of time/space,” either. Consider individual needs: some people thrive on privacy, others on human contact.)
- If you have fewer home computers than users who need them, schedule time slots in advance. (And remember that many tasks, including most virtual meetings, can be done on individual phones or tablets.) If you still can’t find enough computer time to go around, ask your school district or a local government/nonprofit where to get additional devices at minimum cost.
When Someone in the Household Is Sick
Whether or not the illness is life-threatening, if it’s something contagious (like COVID-19), the whole family may have to quarantine. This is when claustrophobia and irritability are at their worst. Remember the following tips.
- Again, understand that everyone will be under extra stress from the larger situation. Take special care of everybody’s health, whether or not they’re currently sick: eat nutritiously, get plenty of rest, and cut all nonessentials—even regular chores—from must-do lists.
- Instead of alienating children with “Grandma needs sleep” shushing, show them something positive they can do for a sick family member: making cards, bringing a cup of tea. Involve all “non-sick” household members in helping, according to their abilities and interests.
- Stay in touch with outside loved ones (especially those who are most reliable in encouraging you) via phone and video chat. (Note: some people may prefer shorter chats, or written communications; and children lose interest in small talk long before adults do. Don’t increase stress by forcing anyone to stick with a group chat they’re tired of.)
- To reduce anxiety and blame-casting, make a point of focusing family conversation on current blessings, plans for the future, and what everyone likes about each other.
- Remember that this too shall pass. Seek blessings and lessons in this or any other stay-at-home situation; record those blessings to carry you through future hard times and future good-but-stressful times!