By now we know the drill. If you have to go out, maintain social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands. But the strongest advice there has been for limiting the spread of COVID-19? Stay at home. Working from home and attending school online has become the norm, but what happens to households when they’re forced to spend every moment inside the same four walls? For the sake of your sanity, it’s time to relearn the meaning of patience.
Everyone’s in the same boat. Or house. Or apartment. Set reasonable expectations for your behavior and theirs. A young child will need attention and support. An adult working from home will need as much peace as they can get. A product or service you use might no longer be available.
Roles and expectations will have to shift but try and be attuned to the fact that it’s not personal. Your child’s teacher will understand if you don’t have time to help them finish a craft project. Your boss might be open to moving things around so you can start work later or earlier. Hold fast: the world will eventually go back to some semblance of normality.
Get some space
A change of scene can do wonders for your mood. If there’s another adult or teen in the household to keep an eye on the kids, take it in turns to go out for a walk or just drive around somewhere for a break. Listen to a podcast or turn up the tunes in the car to clear your mind and get some mental energy back. If leaving the house isn’t an option, head to another room, maybe with some chocolate or a cup of coffee in tow, or sit outside to boost your Vitamin D.
Live in the Now
Be mindful of your actions and words. If you’re frustrated or in a bad mood, it can cause you to snap at children in particular. While it can feel good in the moment to lash out, be aware of the words coming out of your mouth. If you say something you don’t mean or it comes out harsher than intended, there’s nothing wrong with taking a breath and apologizing.
If you feel that you’re getting hot under the collar, tell the people around you that you’re losing your patience and leave the room. Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel created the term “name it to tame it.” In essence, this means that naming your emotions out loud can help you regain control. A few deep breaths and a few minutes of distraction — like playing a game on your phone or finally cleaning the bathroom mirror — will give you a chance to reset.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Some people thrive on routines. Others…not so much. Either way, don’t let small things build up into big things. If your housemate doesn’t change the toilet paper roll or your daughter refuses to wear anything apart from the same two playsuits over and over, honestly? Who really cares? Talk to your housemate about what’s bothering you before the resentment you’ve been harboring comes to a head. Or, you know, just change the roll yourself, and move on with your day.
Remember Why You Like Each Other
Take the opportunity to reconnect and create some good memories with your family. If it’s been a frustrating day, try and end on a good note with everyone snuggled on the sofa to watch a new show or movie together. Bring out the board games at the weekend or find a favorite book to read to your kids. Encourage them in the things they enjoy doing and it might bring you a little extra peace and quiet too.