8 ways to bond as a family during COVID-19
Prior to COVID-19, families struggled to spend time together because of competing events and busy schedules. Since the pandemic, families have found themselves spending a lot of time together, often struggling to find things to do that will strengthen their relationships in the midst of these stressful and uncertain times.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many individuals and families to experience an increase in emotional distress due to isolation, job uncertainty, financial loss, illnesses, coping with loss/death/grief and loss of social interactions, to say the least,” said Behavioral Therapist Tanya Bolton with the Prisma Health Adolescent Recovery Center. “It’s during these times of uncertainty, however, that we must be diligent about ensuring family cohesiveness.”
What is family cohesiveness?
Family cohesiveness involves purposely spending time together and rebuilding bonds. It requires consistent communication with those in your home and relatives who live far away. Family cohesiveness means checking in with family to make sure everyone’s okay and adjusting well during these times.
What can families do to bond during COVID-19?
Bolton shared activities you can start doing to build your family cohesiveness.
- Increase daily structure. Make a loose schedule that includes time for physical activity, time to talk about how each person is handling COVID-19, time for summer reading, etc.
- Complete an activity that has always been on your list. Do something together that you have always wanted to do but never had the time. Start a garden, take turns cooking (age appropriately), read a book together or start a regular walking time each evening.
- Schedule a virtual meeting. Get together virtually with your extended family or other families in your circle. If you have an older adolescent, have a weekly group call for them and their closest friends.
- Do things outside. Take a hike, go for a swim, go on a picnic, go on a bike ride –incorporate creative ways to get out together as a family without increasing your COVID-19 exposure.
- Normalize the current situation. Some family members may be having difficulty getting use to this new normal. Make sure they feel free to talk about their struggles and the loneliness they may be feeling. Recognize the increased difficulty for adolescents as they are more dependent on peer relationships.
- Limit screen time. Be sure to monitor and prevent excessive screen time. Incorporate this into your daily structure by allotting certain times each day for screen use (see number one). If you are a parent working from home, schedule screen time during work meetings, important work times or when you’re less available.
- Talk about your own struggle. Model coping by openly talking about the strategies you are using to adjust to this new normal and make sure you are feeling supported and connected as well.
- Recognize when outside help is needed. If your child or adolescent is exhibiting behaviors that show they are having difficulty adjusting – increased isolation, depression, suicidal thoughts – please seek professional help for them. Most mental health providers are currently offering telehealth services which allow you to access their help safely.
“Ensuring family cohesiveness during COVID-19 will not only be beneficial during this time but will be long-standing and healthy for family relationships throughout the years to come,” said Bolton.
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