It’s coming into the third or fourth week of social distancing and isolation for a lot of people in the UK, and the cabin fever is kicking in for most. My household currently consists of my parents, my younger brother and his girlfriend, and I; we haven’t really argued yet. I’ve had a think about why and decided to write a little blogpost about how we’re making the lockdown work for us. While our habits aren’t fool-proof and may not work for every household, they’re just things that we’ve done to make life a little bit easier.
Space is crucial
It’s easy to forget that you need time to yourself when you’re quarantined with other people. Keeping some boundaries between you and the people you live with is super important. We all get on with our own business throughout the day; for my parents, that means going for walks and doing odd jobs, baking, reading and gardening. My brother is in the army and gets on with daily tasks he’s being set for work, and his girlfriend gets on with Uni work. I am currently working my way through KUWTK, freelancing and (obviously unsuccessfully) planning content for my blog that isn’t all based around Coronavirus.
We all respect each other’s space and privacy, which is probably one of the reasons we haven’t clashed at all yet. We’re all appreciative of each other’s right to do what they feel like doing, and nobody imposes on anyone else’s choices. If I feel like staying in my room for most of the day, nobody is going to force me to do otherwise. Respecting that everyone is dealing with social isolation in their own way is something I think is really key for us getting along well.
This is something I benefit from living by as a general rule: thinking about how you make your points. Talking about my feelings is not something that makes me uncomfortable, but I can be the first to admit that I don’t always go about conversations in the most productive way. There’s nothing wrong with voicing the fact you’re not happy or comfortable with something, but being mindful about how you say it is important for reducing friction in the household. Listening to others’ problems and treating them with empathy is the first step to having a constructive conversation about anything.
We aren’t – nor do we claim to be – the poster family for perfectly smooth-running households, but one thing we do quite well is take each other’s feelings into consideration. Over-communication is not necessary, have the talk and move on. Bringing up old arguments is also a really bad way to speak with people you live with – the last thing you want to do is make people feel like they can’t move on from issues that have been dealt with. Also, it’s normal to have arguments from time to time, family members have a way of triggering you like no one else on the planet… especially siblings. So, don’t feel bad for getting heated, but do apologise and try to do better.
“Socialise” with others
Facetime, call and text your friends! Why not? What else are they gonna be doing? Unless your entire friendship group consists of essential workers or work-from-homers, you should have people to speak to. Getting an outside opinion on an issue can prove to be invaluable if you’re not sure how to approach a situation. And, even if you don’t feel like you need to vent, you should check in on your friends and make sure they’re good, too. We may not be able to give our friends a hug but we can be there to ease their burden by letting them talk it out. Taking care of each other from a distance will help all of us get through this pandemic.
I guess this goes without saying, it’s also important to check in on family members who aren’t isolating with you. Whether you’re on lockdown with a full house or living by yourself, both situations pose different and equally challenging circumstances. My lovely nan is living alone so we call her a few times a day and take her groceries when she needs them. If anything she probably wants us to back off.
This one honestly only really applies to the parents in my household because there isn’t much structure in the days of my brother, his girlfriend, and I. It’s fair to say we’ve only just started regularly gracing the ‘rents with our presence before midday. You don’t need to be strict with this one either, there’s no need to set a timetable of what needs to be done when unless you’re working from home. For those of us who aren’t, making a rough skeleton of a plan for your day is helpful.
Every day, my parents know they’re going to (at the very least) do some exercise together, cook, and do something like watch a film or series together. Forming a plan and letting everyone else know what your schedule is allows you to give each other the space to get on with it or combine schedules. If I’m planning to walk to the shop and I don’t let my brother know, how can he offer me a lift instead?
If nothing else, it just serves to make life feel a bit more normal.
Spend time together
Don’t stay cooped up in your room for too long feeling sad about missing your friends – first of all, cabin fever is bad enough in a house never mind a room, and secondly, there are people downstairs you can actually socialise with. We sometimes play board games together during the day, sit in the garden or just chill and chat. Family favourites ATM are Frustration, Draughts, and Scrabble.
We’ve started watching series together every night, so I have some banging suggestions for you which should please most (older) members of the family:
- Mr Mercedes on STARZPLAY via Amazon Prime
- Castle Rock on STARZPLAY via Amazon Prime
- Tiger King on Netflix (you should’ve watched this by now anyway)
- Ozark on Netflix
- Our Girl via BBC iPlayer
- Killing Eve via BBC iPlayer
These are titles that have gone down really well in my household. We like a good drama, can you tell?
We’re doing what we can to retrieve some sense of normality during this really crazy and daunting time. Like I said, this isn’t the Gospel of Family Living, it isn’t going to work for everyone. These are just some of the things that my five-person household does to make family life during the lockdown more liveable.