We want to help you in some small way.
Our family of four (including our college-student son who is now home from Chicago) has gone into full social-distancing mode here in Seattle to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19. Chances are that your family is doing the same. The good news? We’re seeing a lot more of each other than we normally do.
The challenge? Well, we’re seeing a lot more of each other than we normally do!
So, how do you create a safe, healthy, and happy home in these difficult days?
We’ll leave the medical advice to experts. But when it comes to your relationships – with your spouse, your children and your friends – we hope this brief list of practical suggestions makes your unexpected family time better.
Leverage the hour that matter most.
What is it? Your dinner hour. Don’t waste it in front of the TV. Don’t allow your kitchen to become a food court. Never has there been a better time to share a daily meal together as a family. Linger for conversation. Ask questions. Make it “slow food.” Researchers across the board have found that the hour around the dinner table tethers a family together. So, nourish and nurture your family through this daily ritual.
Hone your communication skills.
As you linger around the dinner table, practice two fundamental skills for communication. First, clarify content. This means that you go out of your way to be sure each person feels understood when they are speaking. Second, reflect feelings. This is key. Listen for emotions underneath the words. If you have children of a certain age, listen for fear and anxiety about what we are all going through. In fact, listen for it in your spouse, too. You can use this old standby: “Sounds like you are feeling …” If you’re wrong in identifying their feeling, they will tell you. So, listen with a genuine heart. It may be one of the most import things you do during this trying time.
Stay connected with your friends.
Since we aren’t seeing our friends at church, going out for a meal, etc. we are making regular phone calls and leveraging FaceTime. Why is this important? Because we all need to maintain our “web of connectedness” right now. We need to hear from each other. We need to know we are not making this journey alone. So, reach out on a regular basis. Last night we even had a good friend “join us for dinner” through FaceTime (propping up the tablet at a place around our dinner table).
Count your blessings.
Thornton Wilder said, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” It’s true. And whenever we humans are under stress and filled with worry, gratitude rarely enters the picture. It’s our nature to complain even when we have so much to be grateful for. It’s an attitude that breeds entitlement and it can permeate our lives if we’re not careful. Actually, it is sure to permeate our lives and our relationships if we are not grateful. So count your blessings, big and small, and you will see your spirit lifted. Oh, and know this: gratitude is contagious. Let this virtue go viral in your home. The more you model it, the more the people around you will, too.
Dream a dream.
Whenever we feel trapped, cooped up, and immobilized, we can begin to lose hope. Don’t let that happen. “Hope is itself a species of happiness,” said Samuel Johnson, “and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.” This is a good time to determine your dreams. A dream is simply a vision of your imagination. What do you imagine doing once this pandemic passes? Have you thought about that? It’s crucial to dream because it reminds you and your family that this crisis is not forever. Dreaming brings together two super boosters of happiness: optimism and control. It gives us passion for what is possible. Allow yourselves to imagine what life will be like on the other side of COVID-19.
There you have it. Five practical and proactive things you can do to help create the safest place on Earth – your home – during this crisis. And know this: We are pulling for you. We are praying for you. We are here for you. For more than two decades we have been supplying you with help for building healthy relationships. And we’re more committed to that today than ever. So if you’re inclined, let us know how it’s going. If you’ve discovered something during this time that can help others, let us know and we will spread the word. You can connect with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With every good wish and prayer,
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott