Sticking together. Or Stuck...together.
A mildly humorous look at "family bonding" for the foreseeable future.
Mom Journal. From the beginning:
Day 1. Kids slept in, I got a lot of work done, actually. Maybe I will reorganize the closets later. This is going to be great! We should really cherish this time we have together. Let the Family Bonding Time commence!
Day 8. Ok, we can do this. It’s only day 8? I know we can get this under control.
Day 9. Wait. School is out for how long?!? OMG. Is it acceptable to day drink if you are now a homeschool teacher, a remote employee, a household manager, and a parent?
Day 42. I’m starting to wonder if we are all really related. Where did they learn this behavior?
Day 103. I’m starting an observation journal, strictly for scientific purposes. It’s me or them. These humans that state they are my children and husband are either losing their minds, or I am. I fear it is the latter.
Day 237. There’s a strange odor coming from the closet. I may investigate later, if I can stay undetected. The craft supplies are drained. We need reinforcements. I now realize having the children read "Lord of the Flies" as their reading homework was an enormous mistake. I feel as if they are mocking me.
Subject 1, the small one, is starting to chew on the baseboards after repeatedly saying “there’s nothing to eat” but not looking in the cabinet. I am waiting to see how strong her resolve is.
Subject 2 hasn’t showered in a week. Maybe two? He is talking to himself while making strange faces into a cardboard smartphone, as his was taken away in week 3. In hindsight, that may have been a bad decision. His eyes have glazed over and he is starting to talk to his hand. The hand is answering. I am worried.
The big one, subject 3, barely resembles the other leader of this group. I haven’t gotten too many glimpses of him in the past 30 days or so, but it’s probably for the best. His expression is somewhere between resignation and downright terror, much like a caged animal. If I get too close, who knows...
Speaking of animals, the dog is missing. I know she is somewhere in the house. We keep hearing her come out at night to eat, like a scavenger in survival mode. Her humans are no longer recognizable. There’s a pounding at the door right now, but I must remain still as to not give away my location to the other people in the house. Unless it’s the delivery guy, but he’s starting to look a little frightened as well and is getting very agile at running from the door as quickly as possible.
We still have 30 more days. I think we can make it. If not, tell my story.
That’s honestly what I have been picturing in my mind since faced with the reality that I have to actually spend time with the family. And not normal family time, where I see everyone in the morning and then in the afternoon/evening after school. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No breaks.
We are used to our lives. We are creatures of habit. Completely upending that is enough to make anyone go crazy. There are some great things we CAN do as a family, but it’s also important to remember that we really shouldn’t be going to parks, hiking, or doing most outdoor activities. Authorities have shut down most public gathering spots, so it is time to get creative. Unless, of course, you want the above scenario to be the next true story on Netflix.
It’s important to accept that you are not going to get this right. At least not at first. None of us have ever been in this situation. Let’s not kid ourselves. Yes, we can be grateful that we get to spend time with our families, and that our lives have slowed down drastically. But that will inevitably wear off, and when it does, we need some kind of plan to stay sane.
My first suggestion would be to have planned time together. I have worked remotely for years, and I know that sometimes your work day can spill over into your evening and frequently into weekends. I do better when I have a plan, and know when my work day is over. That’s when I get to devote my time to my family. But, and this is a big one, we still need time alone, that isn’t work or family devoted. I would say at least twice per week, try to plan an activity with the family. Any remaining free time can be just that - free to spend with yourself or your family. Try inserting humor as much as possible. In our house, we have a figuring that we like to hide. Whoever finds it hides it next. It’s just a little fun way to make one another giggle.
Some great suggestions on what to do, at your home:
Coloring Books (adults too!)
Have a family member ‘sponsor’ a movie night. They pick the movie, the snacks, etc.
Redecorate or rearrange rooms
Family Band Night (if you have instruments)
Cooking - have one person in charge of one dinner weekly, from planning to finding ingredients, etc.
Pizza night, Ice Cream Bar night - create your own!
Creating vision boards
Writing short stories
Set up a campsite in the backyard
Pan your next vacation, down to the restaurants you’ll eat at to where you will stay (this is a great exercise to take the stress of the current events off our minds!)
Write letters to family, maybe include one of your art projects
Research your family history
Get dressed up for a family date night, at home
StarGazing - the Skyview App is great for this
Family Book Club
Dance Off Night
Exercise - create a weekly list of exercises to do, which will benefit you AND your kids!
It’s not about what you do, but about making time for one another and appreciating this time we don’t normally have. We are not going to get it right, and we will get sick of each other.
THAT’S OK! We just want to get through this time and come out of it with our health and sanity intact.
Hang in there!