Now, after several weeks of living in lockdown, we are all having to adjust to new ways of living and working; working from home, home- schooling, having no work at all, not being able to see family and friends. Combine this with anxiety about loved ones who are ill or at risk, it’s not surprising that stress levels are rising.
We all worry about how we will cope with this new way of life.
Pre-Covid19 there will have been stress points — sometimes for you, sometimes for your partner, or for both of you. And, at those times you will have turned to someone for support – your partner, your family, a friend, a neighbour, a workmate.
In the current crisis, although we are ‘all in it together’ we are not all together, because of self-isolation. That puts more pressure on us and those we are in lockdown with — our partners and our children, and for some, ex-partners.
At OnePlusOne we know from research with couples and families, what helps (and what hinders) when relationships are under stress.
Here are some tips for coping together.
This animation shows how, by working as a team, you can navigate difficult times better. Instead of seeing ‘my’ stress competing with ‘your’ stress you can cope with ‘our’ stress.
1. Don’t bottle things up
Talk, and really listen to one another. Share your feelings, concerns and your hopes. So that you can really connect, give each-other your full attention, away from distractions.
2. Offer emotional support before jumping in with a practical solution
Showing your partner that you have understood how they are feeling and why they are worried, will help them feel supported and cope better.
3. And then, offer practical support
Work out a solution together. If one of you is struggling with home schooling while the other is on endless skype calls, work out a way of sharing the load.
4. Do things together
Circumstances may force you to do things separately, so work out what you can do together — cooking a meal, watching a box set, exercising. Whatever eases stress for both of you will bring you closer.
5. Be aware of your children’s presence when you argue
Harsh words and arguments are likely when you are cooped up, 24⁄7.
6. See your arguments from your child’s point of view and argue better!
These videos will show you how
7. Parenting after parting
The video clips above include Chloe’s family whose parents are separated. Many separated parents have had to adjust to new arrangements as a result of the lockdown. Getting arrangements right for your children will require working things out afresh, for their sake. When you can see things from your child’s point of view, you will find it easier to collaborate with your ex and increase the chance of meeting your child’s needs at this difficult time.
8. Your children may be worried about the changes brought by lockdown – but lack the words to explain their feelings. Listen to what they say, help them to explain what may be worrying them, so you and your ex can reassure them.
9. REMEMBER when children see their mum and dad working things out, they will be reassured.
REFLECT & CONNECT
Questions for reflection:
- How do I think and feel we’re doing at the moment as parents?
- What kinds of behaviour am I seeing in the children, and what might be behind that?
- What kinds of things do I think the children might be seeing in us as parents?
Questions to talk about as a couple:
- Which one(s) of the 9 tips do you each find most helpful?
- Share your answers to the questions for reflection.
- What, if anything, could you do differently as you co-parent?
How do you typically handle arguments? Toucan’s Conflict Module helps you see your own conflict style and how you tend to approach disagreements. The module also shares four practical steps for resolving conflict in healthier ways.