Being stuck under one roof for an extended period of time can bring great stress to couples and families. This can be particularly intense for separated couples living under the same roof with their family.
Earlier this week, the UK Prime Minister announced that the country would enter a mandatory lock-down period, in the hope of slowing the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). When we observe the trends across Italy, the UK and Australia, it’s easy to see that Australia could be headed down a delayed, but nonetheless identical, path.
Being stuck at home can make it seem like the walls are closing in. And this environment, not to mention the uncertain and scary times facing the world, can add stress on a household which may already be stressed due to family breakdown. Whether you’re a couple working from home or a family unable to attend school, there will naturally be extra tension within the home environment for the foreseeable future.
Daykin Family Law wants to help guide you through this turbulent time with some tangible ideas and methods for resolving disputes and maintaining a safe and healthy household.
Assumptions and subtext are the perfect recipe for miscommunication and arguments to occur. Speak honestly with your partner and family about how you’re feeling and encourage them to do the same. Remember that fear can easily be expressed as anger or abruptness. Recognise this within yourself and others, and treat others with patience and understanding.
Remember the circumstances
Keep in mind that there could be a large collection of factors contributing to household tension. Along with being stuck at home, families may be facing financial problems, caused by loss of employment or reduced shifts. There is also the emotional impact of being isolated from our extended family, particularly if they are higher risk for contracting coronavirus.
During these particularly troublesome times, consider hitting the pause button on existing conflicts and focus on what matters here and now, remembering that when things get heated, you may not have the option to walk out the door. This is highly relevant for those that remain separated under the same roof.
Establish a routine
Households of all compositions may benefit from writing up an agreed upon routine. Whether it’s just you and your partner both working from home, a family with children or a share house set up, routine and predictability can help people to feel safe and in control.
If your children are home from school, consider establishing a routine in which both structured learning and switch off times are observed. If you’re also still working, consider alternating with your partner (or former partner if you live in the same house) between work and activities with the children, as well as time for the children to be alone in their room or play space.
Just because you’re now working from home, that doesn’t mean you should feel obliged to be consistently ‘logged on’. Make it clear to your team when you intend to start and finish each day, and then give your family your full attention outside work hours.
Ask for help
Remember the show ‘are you smarter than a 5th grader?’.
Helping your kids with their study might find you feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. You aren’t alone! Remember that curriculums are intended to be taught by education professionals, and this may be all new to you having to facilitate your child’s learning to this extent.
If you’re feeling truly stuck with a particular concept or assignment, don’t be afraid to reach out for help, either to your child’s usual teacher or another professional educator you know, or another parent.
Kids and adults alike need time with loved ones, but they also need quiet time in their own space.
Consider creating specific areas in which both you, your partner (or former partner if you are still living together) and your kids can enjoy time on their own, perhaps doing a quiet activity or focusing on a particular task.
Kids can be highly receptive to the moods and attitudes of adults. If you’re panicking, your kids may pick up on this. There are many online resources about handling the current coronavirus pandemic, which can help you answer any questions that your kids may have about it honestly and calmly. Feeling empowered by information and reassured by your calm demeanour will likely be of benefit to your children and your household.
Most importantly, find pockets of enjoyable times when you can. Find activities outside of work and school hours which you can do together with your children. While going to a cafe or the local playground may be off limits, don’t underestimate the fun of the kitchen or backyard area.
Even coming together with your children to tackle a project can provide a feeling of togetherness.
Shannon Daykin is an Accredited Family Law Specialist with extensive experience in helping many successfully navigate their separation. If you are struggling to deal with separation amidst the uncertainty created by the coronavirus, contact Daykin Family Law today to let us devise for you a clear plan to assist you during this difficult time.