The coronavirus pandemic has families spending plenty of “quality time” together, but living under the same roof 24 hours a day can tax relationships, an expert in child development says.
This is “a completely new and unique situation,” said Murray Krantz, a professor in the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University, in Tallahassee.
Luckily, there are ways to reduce the risk of conflict, he noted.
First, assess family members for resilience, which is “surprising strength in the face of adversity,” Krantz said, and encourage those people. For example, a person might show leadership by finding ways to make an ordinary recipe taste better, lightening the mood for everyone, or managing their emotions in a way that sets an example for others, he explained.
“Don’t insist that it has to be you. You may not be the person who saves the day here,” Krantz said in a university news release.
It’s also a good idea to maintain a family schedule for things such as sleeping and eating. Trouble can brew if some people are making noise while others are trying to sleep.
“I think everybody should be reasonably expected to get up roughly at the same time, give or take a half-hour or maybe even an hour, but at least we’re all on our circadian rhythms here,” Krantz said.
Eating together at least once a day can also provide predictability and reliability. “If we can get around the table together, we’ll find something in common that is probably healthy for all of us,” he added.
Another way to ease some stress is to plan fun things that include everyone.
“Maybe every day — or OK, every other day — find something that’s reasonably constructive and reasonably fun to do for at least most of the people who are living in the house,” Krantz suggested.
It could be as simple as watching the same television show together or working on a jigsaw puzzle.
“It shouldn’t be a chore,” Krantz said. “It’s something that suggests some fun, some fulfillment, something enjoyable. I think if you find something that most of the people are really enjoying, it’s probably going to be magnetic and draw other people’s interest.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on daily life and coping during the coronavirus pandemic.