It’s officially day 2 of quarantine for me, as I was still able to go on my planned spring break trip (camping, in isolation, with my roommates in the woods). It was a beautiful week, but now we have parted ways for who knows how long and I am home with my family for the foreseeable future. I am excited to spend this time with them, since I haven’t been with them or in my home with my dog since January. However, we all know what excess time with family creates: irritability, cabin fever, and hostility. Unfortunately, it’s always the people we are closest to that we can become the most easily annoyed with. Family is probably the biggest part of this. We are going to be spending all of our time together: every meal, shared daily walks, and movie nights. Even when I’m doing my homework, my parents will pop their heads in, asking if I need anything. You can’t blame them, they’re excited to have their kids home from school for a while, even if the circumstances are scary and unfortunate. This doesn’t mean that the lack of alone time isn’t going to get to you, though. It’s important to set up a routine and a plan to avoid going stir crazy, and to have the healthiest relationships you can with the people you love the most. Though I’m new to the quarantine phase, here’s what I plan on doing over the next couple of weeks.
1. Discuss needs. You’re at home, which is typically the place where you’re free to do
whatever whenever, but the rules for home have to be redefined a little now. Your home base has become the center for everything now: your workplace, your gym, your artistic space, your food source, and so much more. Before COVID-19, you would leave the house to do a lot of these things. Now, they’re all relocated to one space for you and your family members. It’s natural that throughout the day, you’re going to roam in and out of rooms and chat freely to your family. This might not work for everyone. For example, if you need to do homework and go to online class during the day, express that need so small talk and interruptions (the vacuum) can be kept to a minimum until you have finished your work. By simply telling your family what you need from them and vise versa during this time, you can compromise on things. This will lead to better communication and less irritation from everyone. It’s important that you all can coexist under the same roof.
2. Make a schedule! This might seem silly and unnecessary, since you’re at home and
maybe thrive off the feeling of having nowhere to go and nothing to do at a certain time. This definitely isn’t the first time you’ve heard that creating a routine is going to be your best friend right now, or that some form of structure is going to keep you from losing your mind when you’re stuck at home. This is especially true for you and your family, so you can spend quality time together and make the most out of this time while also having some very needed time apart. Say you schedule a movie night at 9 p.m. or a walk at 10 a.m., and aside from meals, you have the rest of your day to do what needs to be done for yourself. (you can schedule your alone time and let your family know when that is, too!)
3. Use ‘I’ statements: this sounds self explanatory and childish, but it really is important. Conflict is going to arise, and passive aggressive behavior and built up resentment towards your family is only going to last so long. (It’s also unhealthy and will lead to worse, regrettable results in the long run). Even if confrontation with your family is intimidating to you, now is a good time to practice, and it’s also a way of expressing love. If you’re upset, angry, saddened, or just plain irritated by a family member’s behavior that isn’t contributing something positive to this adjusted lifestyle, practice leading with your emotions to get your point across.
4. Send love constantly. Remember that this is your family. When you were at school and got homesick, these were the people you wanted to be with the most. They love you and want the best for you. Expressing your love for them can be as simple or as big as you want it, and you can do it in your own way. By just holding the door open for them, helping them with a chore when you’re free, expressing your thanks when they do something for you, and just telling them you love them before bed are all ways to communicate love to them. There are countless more that you probably already do, too. Everyone needs a little extra love right now. Be kind to yourself, and show your love to the people who matter the most to you.