13 Ways to Help Families Get Along When Told to STAY HOME
Bunker down and reconnect with your family is the advice we’re reading and hearing and I think it’s spot on.
BUT, like most families you will be looking for tips and tools to make this possible. Let’s face it, it can take some getting used to being around our family 24/7 with no way out! Especially given teenagers are at a time in their lives when they want to connect with their friends, be out and about and enjoy their independence and sense of freedom.
You’re not alone. Despite the tilted view of perfect families flooding social media, many families are feeling it, struggling in this current environment and hoping they can survive the ‘stay home’ instructions.
If you can relate, you may find these tips helpful in handling uncertain family dynamics and finding ways to settle the vibe and bring a little more harmony to family life.
MANAGE YOUR THOUGHTS
Being able to identify if our thoughts are below or above-the-line is key in times of uncertainty and extreme change.
Asking “Are my thoughts below or above the line right now?” is the game-changing foundation tool families are relying on to build ROC (resilience, optimism and confidence), especially during tough times. Being able to rise up above-the-line is a skill that teenagers can call upon to take care of their mental and emotional fitness.
MONITOR COVID-19 NEWS INTAKE
Intentionally chosen news updates are better for our mental and emotional fitness. Choose when we watch the news or read updates, rather than it entering our minds like a dripping tap.
Right now space and room to move is paramount and more important than a perfectly placed room fit for a home decor magazine. Moving furniture and being flexible with spaces in our home. Choosing to free up space to do things at home which in the past, may have been done at work or in a gym. At our place we’ve moved everything on the patio to create a designated exercise space and we’ve changed the spare room in to an office for my husband to work from home. Flexibility will serve us well during this time.
Having routine provides structure and a sense of purpose. It can also lessen the need for willpower and motivation, which as we know, can forget to show up when the world feels a bit flat. Routine takes the pressure off our brain, because we don’t have to make so many decisions and we can save our brain power for more important thinking and planning.
GIVE YOUR FAMILY TIME
Be patient and gentle with ourselves as every member of our family transitions to spending more time at home and in each other’s company. Sharing the house, hearing each other move around and noticing how everyone approaches their day differently may trigger new and unexpected thoughts and emotions. Giving your family time to find its new rhythm is a good thing and perhaps uncomfortable at the same time. Roll with it as best we can.
QUIT COMPARING It will only end in tears!
The media and socials are filled with picture perfect stories and images of happy families nesting and loving being together at this unprecedented time. Don’t be fooled or lured in to this land of lies and then start making unfair comparisons which drag us down. Turn away from such images and zone in on your own family and how we can make the most of a less than ideal situation.
READ UP ON LOVE LANGUAGES Gary Chapman’s book is a great place to start. Knowing how our teenager gives and receives love could help us to understand what makes us and your teen tick. This is gold and has the potential to make a positive difference to our relationships.
The five language of love are:
1. Words of affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving gifts
4. Acts of service
5. Physical touch
I suggest bringing awareness to what we really need, individually and collectively. It supports an increased level of empathy for each other whilst bringing attention to the simple things we need to care for ourselves physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually. We’re talking non-negotiables.
Asking 3 questions can help facilitate this –
1. What do I /we need?
2. Why is that important?
3. How can I /we take responsibility for facilitating our needs being met.
Take a moment to stop and lean into the vibe of our home. Notice how it feels and act accordingly. The old saying ‘don’t poke the bear’, especially if the bear is YOU – the person doing the check in! I’m a firm believer this simple check-in can help us catch little problems before they escalate into big nightmares. Creating space for teenagers to say exactly how they’re feeling is a big plus too. We know that teens who have a solid emotional vocabulary can interpret their own feelings more effectively and are better placed to talk about them too.
LEAD WITH LOVE
When stress levels are up, we can feel extra threatened, reactive and out of control. As the adult in the room, we must be the one to take charge and lead with love. Modelling ‘lead with love’ is mighty powerful as it sets the tone for conversations, questions and interactions.
Be the adult who chooses to lead with :
1. a softer tone of voice
2. respectful voice volume
3. gentle body language
4. a desire for calm over conflict
5. a listening ear
6. willingness to be wrong
7. a willingness to forgive
HARMONY AT HOME
Think of these guides lines like a school classroom’s Code of Conduct ( aka Rules to ensures everyone is included, heard, respected and feels safe)
eg sharing of chores, cooking rosters, TV times, music and choice of music, walking the dog, sharing of games and devices, internet and general family routines.
ALL IN GOOD TIME
Resist the temptation to sort the entire house overnight. There’s no rush here! This is a weird time and everyone will react differently to curfews, restrictions and limitations. Sharing this idea will take some pressure off and remind our family that an adjustment period is essential. Ideally we want to encourage everyone to think about being adaptable and willing to look for solutions rather than focusing on problems.
CREATE A CODE
Maybe it’s a word or signal for anyone to use when they need some space, because if they don’t get space, they might go nuts and totally explode!!
I head to the garden, it’s safe there.
I’m serious. Think about this before we need it, so it’s created at a time of calm and even with a bit of humour added.
This is a vital part of a teenager’s and adult’s self-awareness journey during a time in history that we will always remember and never forget.
Have fun experimenting
This idea is shared with teens in Claire’s book ROC and RISE. Endorsed by Maggie Dent and loved by teenagers and their families worldwide.
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