Adjusting to the new world of Corona-Virus and social distancing is difficult as it is. If you find yourself now spending a lot more time with your family in the house then it can be even harder. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you maintain the best relationship with your family as possible while living together in lock-down. Whether that's setting boundaries or just taking it in turns to decide what to eat, we promise it doesn't need to be all arguments.
1. Recognise that you all cope in different ways
When it comes to dealing with huge disruption, everyone is inevitably going to deal with it in a different way, so don't expect your family to behave in exactly the same way that you do. It's also important to be compassionate and understanding of other people's coping mechanisms.
"24/7 proximity is not easy for everyone so do what you can to be kind and understanding," says Relate counselor Rachel Davies. "Recognise that people in your family will cope in different ways – some will be busy, especially if working at home or home schooling children, and others may be bored , so respect difference and be kind."
2. Try to see the positives
While it's easy to focus on the negative aspects of social distancing, like not being able to go out or to see friends, it's also important to remember the positives, too. "Try to appreciate that you are fortunate to have family to be locked down with," says Rachel.
"A lot of people are struggling alone, so try to put things in perspective. Yes, you might be getting on each other's nerves, but also remember that you are doing the right thing by staying at home, and are helping others in the process."
Keeping a gratitude journal, or listing the things you're grateful for when you wake up or go to sleep can be really useful for reminding yourself to focus on the positives.
3. Stick to a routine
The No.1 rule that all seasoned Work-From-Home-ers seem to live by is STICK TO A ROUTINE. And even if you're not working at home, having a routine can do wonders for your mental health. Rachel suggests keeping your wake-up time, bedtime and meal times at a fixed point every day, and recommends syncing these with your family, too.
"For example, you could all make sure to have two meals a day together, like breakfast and your evening meal." she explains. "That means you have time to spend together as a family, but you don't feel pressure to hang out together in between those set times."
4. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is hugely important for any relationship, but if you're going to be in the house together 24/7 it's even more necessary. A massive part of having healthy boundaries is respecting each other's spaces in the house.
"Agree that a closed door means someone is working, reading or wants some quiet time," suggests Rachel. Or she even recommends making your own 'do not disturb' and 'come in' signs, so that everyone is clear on what is acceptable.
5. Enjoy the opportunity to spend more time together
While it might feel overwhelming to suddenly be with your family all the time, try to embrace this new time together, especially if it's usually a rare occurrence. Rachel suggests seeing lock-down as an opportunity, not just a challenge. "Many families are like ships passing in the night, especially where you're all at work or school.
"This time could become really special as life becomes more simple and we focus more on our relationships and giving them the time they deserve," she explains. Think about the things you usually don't get time to do as a family, and make a list of what you want to do together during the lock-down.
6. Give everyone a say in what you do
As well as thinking of ways to spend time together during lock-down, it's also really important to make sure everyone gets a chance to decide. Rachel recommends sticking a list to the fridge door that anybody can add to, or taking it in turns so that each person has an evening or a day to plan activities for.
7. Don't miss out on special occasions
Being confined to the house doesn't mean that you can't still have fun celebrating special occasions, and it can be a great way to cheer each other up and have things to look forward to. Rachel recommends getting creative, having a birthday party over video call, camping out in the garden or living room, having a bonfire or a movie marathon.
If somebody is ill or self-isolating in your house, that doesn't mean they need to miss out either. You can still video call from another room, or watch the same film at the same time and stay connected.