30 March 2020
A family friendly guide to surviving the Coronavirus lockdown
There is no doubt that the coming weeks will be tough for most couples having to cope with the uncertainty and worry of COVID19. This will be on top of juggling daily household tasks, working from home, spending most of our time together, as well looking after the children. Sue Andrews, family lawyer and B P Collins’ wellbeing champion, offers some thoughts about how to get through these unprecedented times.
Respect each other – It’s important to respect their personal space, time and opinions. If you remember this, then you should be able to communicate more easily, which is especially important when children are around too. You don’t want to give out mixed messages.
Listen to each other – Not just to what your partner is saying but also to their body language. This is likely to be a worrying time, and although not everyone might say it openly - particularly when they’re trying to hide concerns from the children - not talking about their feelings could lead to erratic behaviour. Talking to each other and being honest about how you feel is essential. You might feel vulnerable doing so, but a good relationship is about sharing and being there for each other.
Share responsibility for the children and their school work - It doesn’t matter who does what in the real world. If you are both at home now and you both need to work, then responsibility for the children and their school work needs to be shared equally as far as possible. Learning can be fun at any age plus it will give you so much more insight into what the children do and learn at school
Play games with the children – Don’t feel bad that Netflix, Disney + or Joe Wicks might be on more than normal during this time. But as most of us aren’t travelling between home, work and school, there may be more time for fun activities with the children such as a game of rounders or some other sport. Or sit around the kitchen table and do some craft with paper and pens making things. It’s Easter soon, so what about decorating a hard-boiled egg – be sure not to use things that mean the egg can’t the be eaten – they are precious right now! Or what about a spot of gardening and creating a vegetable patch together. Go for a walk and maybe talk about the trees, flowers and birds, which absorbs their attention, lifts their mood and might also tire them out.
Create a routine – This is vital. Get up at the same time, get washed, dressed and have breakfast together. Without this routine, tasks that need to be done will slip and everyone’s mood could nosedive. Achieving goals is a great motivator and will help to create some sense of normality.
Share chores and clear up after yourself – Household tasks should not fall to one person and get the children involved too. Everyone should be clearing up after themselves, so put your dirty plate in the dishwasher. The entire family will be spending most of their time at home now, so things could become very messy, very quickly, if it’s not dealt with. But make it fun, for example, everyone could take turns in choosing and cooking a meal. And sharing chores and ideas creates closeness.
Take time for each other – Even though you may have children around, it doesn’t always have to be about them and their needs. Maybe you and your partner could eat together after the children have gone to bed and use this chance to have a meaningful conversation.
But also take time for yourself - Try to find your own space no matter how busy the house is and how frenetic the day has been. Maybe take a long bath, read a book, do a job that you’ve always been meaning to do, exercise or practice yoga, knit that jumper, or you might also decide to learn a new skill or do an online course. With the amazing technology at our disposal, you can see and chat to your friends and family online. Time for you should energise you for whatever comes next.
The hope is that you will get to the end of this with your relationship stronger and better than ever. However, if regrettably, you believe your relationship has come to the end of the road, there is probably little you can do to bring about a physical separation because of the limitations on movement, so you may have to agree to park the formal stuff for now. But if you do decide to take legal advice, then do it privately if possible. It’s vital to not create unnecessary tension or conflict when the whole family might be feeling on edge already.