Mar 202020 0 Responses

How to Stay Sane While Staying Home

For most Americans had you told them a month ago they would get to spend a few weeks at their house with little work responsibilities, they would have gladly accepted the assumed vacation. Three days into a recommended national quarantine, many people, especially parents, are ready to pull their hair out. It’s amazing how a chosen outcome is so much easier to accept than a forced one.

As Covid-19 spreads around the globe, schools, restaurants, gyms, and many businesses have been forced to close in hopes of stopping the spread of the virus. The result is families who normally just get a few hours a day together are now in close quarters all day as kids are trying to do their schoolwork and parents are trying to do their jobs. Needless to say, it’s challenging.

So how do we keep our sanity even as we are staying home in order to best love our neighbors and protect ourselves?

How to Stay Sane

Create a routine. We all do better in routines. It doesn’t have to be a rigid concept, but put together a general flow of how the days will go. When will the kids work on their homework? When can they play video games? When will the whole family interact and when will everyone have their own alone time? If you create a general routine, it will provide some structure so that everyone can get a good balance of togetherness and alone time. One key is to not make the time divides too long. Working from 8-5 and then being with family from 5-10 is a routine but it won’t work in this setting. Think in terms of a school schedule–45 minutes for this task and then move on to the next.

Steal some minutes. I can’t emphasize enough the necessity to steal minutes for alone time and time between spouses. This isn’t about sex, although we could talk about the importance of that as well. This is about connection and conversation. The mistake we often make when thinking about time together is to assume we need large amounts of time in order to truly feel connected. We don’t. Just a few minutes together throughout the day can help us feel supported, seen, and understood by our spouse. Even five minutes behind a closed door with your spouse without kids can radically change your whole day. Kids also need a similar connection. Intentionally try to get one-on-one time with each child so that they can feel heard and seen. Think minutes and not hours.

Get outside. While it’s never a good time to have a forced quarantine, I’m grateful it is happening at the beginning of spring and not in the dead of winter. We can socially distance ourselves from others while still going outside. It’s amazing what a little bit of fresh air and sunshine can do for the mind. The longer the restrictions go, the more likely our kids might be asking to do yard work just to leave the house. On sunny days we try to pick up lunch from a locally owned restaurant and then go eat a picnic somewhere that there are not too many people. This allows us to get out of the house, provides some meaningful together time so we all can work alone at other times, and shows my kids parts of our city which they would not have experienced otherwise.

Connect with others. We are relational people. Whether introverted or extroverted, everyone needs relationships. Some reserved people might deal with the quarantine better than others, but everyone needs human connection. For many, connecting with others happens through the natural rhythms of our lives–work, school activities, volunteering, etc. With everyone socially distancing to stop the spread of the virus, it will be tempting for some to completely cut off interactions with others. This cannot be done. Keep your distance, but pick up the phone. Don’t go over, but Facetime grandma. Don’t get close, but do talk to your neighbors over the fence. Even as we hunker down, we still need to reach out.

The idea of being at home for a while is appealing during stressful times. We picture lazy naps, quality family time, and a good Netflix binge. But reality sometimes doesn’t match the picture. Now that we have been mandated to be home, it’s easy for some of us to lose our minds. With a couple of intentional choices, we stay sane even as we stay home.

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