A crisis can teach us a lot about ourselves. It can magnify our shortcomings and challenge our beliefs. It can shine a light onto our priorities—from how we spend our time, to what we spend our energy talking about, to where we spend our money. This is as good a time as any to reset and be intentional about how we, as a family, open back up for business.
Let’s not leave anything to chance. You must be intentional. Intentional about time together, building relationships within the home, connecting with those you care about, not over-scheduling and self-care. Make a family plan to live on purpose post-COVID-19.
Step 1: Gather with your spouse and/or children.
Call together a family meeting. A family meeting shows that this is important. It also shows that you want everyone’s input.
Step 2: Play a game, have a dance-off, start a pillow fight! Get the blood flowing!
Doing something fun first helps create a positive atmosphere where ideas can flow. It can set the stage for amazing creativity.
Step 3: Things to discuss that can help you develop your family plan.
Pick the questions that are most appropriate for your family. Older children might like to write answers to some of these ahead of time.What did you like most about being quarantined?
- What was the toughest part about being quarantined?
- Did you learn anything about yourself? If so, what?
- How do you think the quarantine affected our family in a positive way?
- Did we do anything during quarantine that we want to keep doing?
- What parts of pre-quarantine family life do you not want to go back to?
- What are our family’s biggest strengths? Biggest weaknesses?
- What does success as a family look like? How can we work together as a family to achieve that success?
- Who are the people outside of this family (extended family, friends, neighbors) that we care about?
- How could we be intentional to care for them and stay connected?
Step 4: PLAN
Work together to develop a family plan that reflects the thoughts and conclusions from your discussion in Step 3. Be sure that your plan includes how you will:
- Spend time together as a family. (Number of meals you’ll eat together each week. How often you’ll do a family activity. Schedule one-on-one time.)
- Choose a family-friendly number of extracurricular activities to participate in. (Consider how much time it will take. Pros and cons. Is this just a good thing or is it the best thing for me and our family? Are we over-scheduling? The cost to the entire family.)
- Regulate screen time. (Check out our technology in the home resources.)
- Connect with those outside of your family that you care about. (Visits, phone calls, video-chats, gifts, etc.)
When crafting your plan, aim to be realistic.
Be willing to adjust your plan if you overshoot your expectations. The goal isn’t to be perfect, it’s to have stronger relationships. Your plan may start with 5 meals per week. After a few weeks, you may realize that 5 meals per week are not realistic for your family. You may end up adjusting your plan to 1 or 2 meals per week.
What’s important is that you prioritize your time as a family. Hard decisions may have to be made by everyone– often, starting with the parents’ choice of activities that they are involved in. This must be done if you’re going to purposefully bring the lessons your family has learned during the quarantine into your post-quarantine life.
Dr. Gary Oliver, Executive Director of the Center for Healthy Relationships, wrote: “When 1,500 school children were asked the question, ‘What do you think makes a happy family?’ the most frequent answer was ‘doing things together.’”
The happiness and the belonging that comes with doing things together helps children have the confidence, security, and identity they need to leave their home and face the world.