The clock is ticking away. The pressure cooker lets out a high pitched whistle. Fingers are typing furiously away on the keyboard. Jade, the 8-year old yells, “Get off my favourite chair!” A 4-year old screeches a garbled reply. A visibly harassed mother rushes around to soothe them. A stressed out father peers back into this screen sensing his anger levels rise while resisting the urge to scream.
A family contract during the lockdown period is important to manage levels of sanity in the house. As work-from-home is the new norm, families are struggling to manage mental health during the coronavirus lockdown. The need to flatten the curve with long isolation periods have led to a newer set of problems in homes. One, where family members have been cooped up within the house with parents working remotely and juggling numerous duties and children being unable to adjust to new schedules. The isolation period of no contact with the outside world has left adults grappling with their family duties and office responsibilities. The need to survive from the virus has led to newer problems where members have reported not being able to survive the company of each other! The rising financial stress with the industry slowing down has led to increased hopelessness during the coronavirus outbreak.
A family contract is essential (and normal!) during the lockdown period.
How does one transform the mindset during a lockdown? Is there a way to maintain equilibrium?
As a Life Leadership Coach, I have handled numerous such situations. And, I’d like to share a surefire way to transform your mindset during the lockdown which is the family contract.
The Need for a Family Contract during the Lockdown Period
What is a family contract? Does it sound odd to mention a contract with your family?
As absurd as it may sound to some, a family contract is essential (and normal!) during the lockdown period. There is a need to lay down the terms to survive and thrive for a greater mental balance.
Family contracts for behavior help to:
- Keeping positive during the lockdown period
- Laying out set rules
- Maintain set boundaries
- Giving space to each other
How does one go about setting a family contract in the lockdown period? The family needs to sit down and discuss working around each other’s needs and wants that revolve around work and leisure.
Family Lockdown Guide for the Coronavirus Outbreak
1. Define Family Etiquette
Family etiquette is essential in these turbulent times. This reduces tempers flaring up with unmet requirements as the need to maintain etiquette is already defined. Etiquette can be displayed as follows:
a) Specify gadget times
Gadgets used in common areas need to be limited. Children and adults within the family need to be briefed about the hours where gadgets can be used, music can be played aloud, and when video games can be explored.
b) Create noise-free time zones (applicable during work hours)
If a member wants to listen to music at any time of the day, he/she needs to use headphones. A proper agenda during the day with time set aside for relaxation of rules works for enhanced mental peace.
c) Follow meal times
It’s considered quite normal to break rules and delay meal times during a lockdown. After all, who’s watching? But, the point about following a set etiquette is to keep a routine in check, have a nice family discussion at the dining area, and ensure household tasks finish on time. Timely meals ensure better health as well.
2) Define specific zones in the house
It’s easy to step on each other’s toes particularly when you are living in a compact area. No matter the area of your house, there is a need to define work zones, play zones, and rest zones. This means, even if children want to play, they can do so with the adult tucked away safely into his/her cozy workspace and no distractions around.
3) Maintain a routine
Yes, we know that routines are boring! However, routines are the only thing that will keep the family functioning without friction during the lockdown period. Set timetables for waking up and house duties. Continue with your work routine as you would on a normal day. Get the kids to study as per the regular timetable, and include playtime at defined hours. Exercise together. Ensure you keep aside an hour as a family gettogether time.
4) Assign duties
The lockdown period is ideal to help children (and, adults!) pick up responsibilities. This is a great opportunity to make the young ones responsible for household duties such as cooking and tidying up. Prepare a chart and include some rewards such as extra play-time to add to the fun. A division of duties ensures people are kept busy while creating a healthy and thriving space within the house.
The lockdown period is ideal to help children (and, adults!) pick up responsibilities.
5) Build healthy conversations
Take some time off from gadgets. Meet for a couple of minutes each day to practice a group healing session. You can build the session through mindfulness meditation, conversations (ask questions, listen to fears), pray together, or practice gratitude during the coronavirus lockdown period. Ensure adults and children in the family connect with their friends and colleagues to keep the social connection alive. Allow video calls or phone calls during this specific hour to include some stress-free time. Focus on lessons you all can learn and carry forward this phase.
Families may struggle to create some “me-time” during the coronavirus lockdown period, however, with a family contract in place, the initial hiccups will soon wear off. Use the lockdown period to slow down a bit, build connections, look around and realize, life is beautiful!