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family eating outside with Christmas decor

Growing weary of a spring spent at home and indoors? Celebrate Christmas! (Why not?)

7 ways to make the most of ‘bonus’ family time amid coronavirus

Out-of-the-box ideas for coping if tensions are flaring in your quarantined household.

 

We’re going to be at this a little longer. (Maybe a lot longer, who knows?)

No school. No playgrounds. Lots of parents working from home, lots of families together for many more hours than they are accustomed to.

It’s enough to try anyone’s patience, isn’t it?

As someone who definitely has had my share of “moments” (not all of them pretty) during this coronavirus crisis, I am trying to think creatively about how to minimize the tension and maximize the benefits of having everyone together.

You might think of it as “Stuck in the house with your family? How not to kill one another,” but that seemed too negative to broadcast in large type.

So here we go.

*Keep in mind: I am not an expert, just someone muddling through like all the rest of you!

 

Don’t let hygiene completely slide. I am all in favor of all-day pajama days from time to time (or even most of the time), but I’d encourage you to respect your fellow quarantiners (aka family members) by keeping yourself clean and, ahem, fresh smelling. In fact, why not take that a little further and …

Dress up for dinner. This is on my family’s to-do list. We might plan it for a night when we get “fancy” takeout from a favorite restaurant. Set a nice table, light candles and put on nice outfits. You could take the idea further by putting on music and even dancing. Why not?

Go retro: We decided to “splurge” on Disney+ but there has been nary a princess in sight. My husband is gleefully reliving the Sunday evening “Wonderful World of Disney” moments from his childhood and — what do you know? — our super-cool 12-year-old laughed her head off at moments in “The Bad News Bears” and “Gus” (the football-playing donkey). He also has been regaling her with episodes of “The Brady Bunch” and “Love Boat.” It’s been fun to give her a little window into the past, to let her know that, yes, we had pop culture back in the “olden days” (her word).

Give each other grace. This has become one of my new favorite sayings. To me, it’s a reminder to cut your loved ones some slack. Everyone is handling this differently and perhaps having struggles that aren’t obvious. (Here are great tips, BTW, on supporting both little and not-so-little kids right now.) So if your kid just isn’t “up” for homeschool one day, maybe that’s OK. Or if your spouse needs a day to chill, maybe you can give it to them (and maybe they can return the favor next week).

Give each other space. My family was a little slow to learn this lesson. It’s unrealistic that all of this “together” time wouldn’t have a downside. The game nights and movie nights have been fun, but my little solo gardening sojourn last week was heavenly, and that I hour I found for uninterrupted reading … ahhhhh!

Be patient. I’ll admit it: The first few weeks of “sheltering at home” in my home involved a lot of sleeping in and not a lot of self-motivation by our kid. We were busy with our jobs (and the adjustment to all-remote work) so we let this slide. Right about the time we were ready to “lay down the law” and impose some order … she decided the same thing, asking would we please wake her up early the next day so that she could exercise, bathe and then get to work on her school packet. Wonders never cease!

Declare a holiday. We’re going to have “Christmas in May.” Again: Why not? The idea grew from a frustrated comment on a cranky evening: “I need to watch ‘Elf.'” The idea grew from there: We’re going to cook a ham and bake cookies, and we set aside a tiny budget and drew names for a gift exchange.

 

About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is the website editor for Seattle's Child. She is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 12-year-old girl.