Prior to this year, it was not uncommon to hear people lament the working life. The nine-to-five grind makes it tough to spend quality time with your loved ones. You will eventually have times when you miss some important events due to work-related obligations.
Then along came 2020. Suddenly, family togetherness becomes the new normal. Work-from-home, virtual schooling, quarantine, and more — the stakes were raised and big changes were made. But, with the benefit of several months’ worth of hindsight, frequent tension and repeated conflict may have you questioning what you wished for.
Family Life in the Age of Coronavirus
Consider just some of what you may have lost during the pandemic:
- Source of income
- Sense of routine
- Social connections
- Workplace or school-based support systems
- Privacy or solitude
- Feeling safe
So many major changes will inevitably shift interpersonal dynamics. More and more people are reporting emotional distress. Specific to family life, parents are wearing thin with all the new responsibilities. Kids are itching to get back to their normal lives. Parents and children may both be missing time with grandparents and other relatives. While there are silver linings related to spending more time together, the potential for tension and conflict have risen in the past few months.
What to Do When Family Togetherness Leads to Frequent Tension & Repeated Conflict
Particularly if younger children are involved, you will need lots of structure. This blueprint can help replace the old normal. You had your school and work schedules. You also had activities like, say, soccer practice or dance classes. Now, the onus is on you construct routines around which you can create family rhythms.
This means a balance between together and independent time. Also, if you have more than one child, you’ll need to prevent rivalries by giving each child the attention they need.
Hold Regular Family Meetings
Don’t let tension and conflict fester. Schedule regular family meetings. During such meetings, foster a climate of openness and honesty. Let everyone feel safe to air our grievances before they simmer into problems.
No matter how bad things may be going at the moment, take care of yourselves. Stay active. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy meals. Be kind to one another. Just because you’re seeing much more of each other doesn’t mean you should eschew “please” and “thank you” and “good morning.”
Perfectionism is never a good idea (and never attainable). During a global health crisis and economic meltdown, it is even more essential to reject this mindset. You’ve all been tossed into a massive social experiment. Despite your best efforts and best intentions, you’re going to get some things wrong.
Talk about what you want to do — individually and as a family — after the pandemic has eased. Get excited about these plans and get creative. Turn them into art projects or presentations!
What to Do When the Frequent Tension & Repeated Conflict are Overwhelming
None of us was prepared for what this year had in store for us. Your family is not uniquely flawed if the logistics of 2020 have become too much to handle. There is no shame in asking for help. Working with a counselor is a giant step toward healing. You may choose individual therapy or your family may want to work together as a group in family counseling.
Whatever you choose and whatever method you choose (in-person or video chat), you’ll be in a better position to parse out the unsettling changes in your lives. With the pandemic still playing a big role in our lives, it may be time to reach out for a free consultation soon.