In a year when everything has changed, especially the way we gather, socialize and spend our time, how do we protect our relationships with those we love the most? The people who ought to be our support system are the ones who we count on during times of stress and times of need. The trouble is, our loved ones are going through it too and we’re all needing a break from relationship stress at the same time.
With our spouses, kids, or housemates, we’re trying to balance quality time, alone time, and all the other time in-between. With our friends, family and co-workers that we don’t live with, it’s tricky to keep a normal rapport alive while socially distanced.
The fact is, it can all get a bit heavy. Yet there are ways to maintain healthy and happy relationships during a COVID-19 lockdown. We just need to get creative, add a little levity, and save the divorce papers for another day.
Remember date nights with your spouse? Oh, to get dressed up in clothes that aren’t stretchy and head out to a vibey restaurant, or a big movie theatre with comfy seats, buttery popcorn and a panoramic view of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. “Sticking to (or starting) a date night tradition can bring some much-needed joy and anticipation into your relationship,” writes Vanessa Marin, in The New York Times. Identify those elements that made date night great and recreate them. Hire your kids to serve dinner. Get dressed up for the hell of it. Make the movie-style popcorn.
Happy kids, happy life. Giving kids their own ‘maker-space’, filled with arts and crafts supplies, science kits and Lego gives them the freedom to choose their own adventures throughout the day while lowering stress through creative expression. A fitness area stocked with stretchy bands, a wobble board or a mini-tramp gets the wigglies out. Keep the good moods going with smiley face pancakes, lunchtime jokes or backyard bottle rockets. “Four-year-olds laugh about 600 times a day,” Dr. Amy Lopez, a clinical social worker told Colorado Public Radio. “Adults about 15. Maybe they know something we don’t know. What are you doing to have fun as a family?”
The more the merrier. Beyond Zoom happy hours and driveway drinks, find ways to meet up with friends and rellys in a backyard for a socially distanced chat, share a bike ride in the park or a masked-up hike. And when that’s not possible, embrace the texting lifestyle. A funny one-liner between friends can provide a surprising amount of camaraderie just when it’s needed. Most importantly, rather than snarking at your spouse for being on the phone again, encourage him or her to reach out to their pals and family members. “It’s important for both people in the relationship to stay connected with family and friends who can be available for them, especially as time wears on with continuing physical distancing measures,” writes Dr. Chris Kraft for John Hopkins Medicine.