When the pandemic first began, families had to adjust to a new normal: Family time, all the time.
For many families, the mandatory togetherness allowed them to become a closer, more cohesive unit. But as the world opens back up, how can you keep the closeness you created during the shutdown period?
Here are five ideas for keeping in touch, even when you’re not together:
1. Create a daily routine
Before you all run off in different directions (work, school, extracurricular activities, social outings, etc.), sit down and create a routine—together, so everyone feels invested and will be more likely to participate. These routines could include:
- Eating dinner as a family on weeknights
- Talking about the highs/lows of everyone’s day
- Taking a walk after dinner with the family dog
- Planning meals and assigning cooking duties
- Scheduling downtime to give everyone some “me time”
2. Include extended family members
While spending time with out-of-town family members may not yet be possible, schedule a weekly or bi-weekly video chat to check in, swap stories and share upcoming adventures. Video conferencing applications like Zoom or Google Meet give you the option of scheduling a recurring meeting so family members can plan around virtual family time.
Once distance, time and comfort levels allow, make plans to spend time with extended family on a regular basis—whether at a park, a family member’s home or a restaurant in a central location. Don’t wait for the next big holiday to plan a family outing; make it a consistent activity!
3. Set boundaries
With current world events causing tension and division between family and friends, set specific boundaries around hot button topics. Do this by sending an email or text to family members before meeting to let them know the topics you’d like to refrain from discussing and encourage them to do the same. Setting (and gently enforcing) boundaries will help keep the peace at family get-togethers.
4. Prioritize quality time
Easing into the new normal will take a little finagling when it comes to balancing time within the household. As offices and schools reopen, the amount of time you’ll get to spend with your family will lessen and the quality of time spent together will become more important. Read on for some ideas to incorporate quality time:
- Put phones away at mealtime to focus on each other
- Spend 10 minutes before bedtime with each member of the household for some focused one-on-one time
- Plan a family game night
Make a family bucket list and start checking items off
5. Get outside
If weather permits, get outside for family activities, like a walk around the neighborhood, time at a local park, or a tour through the nearest zoo or botanical gardens. Being outdoors can reduce stress and help you get that all-important Vitamin D and fresh air. Throw a ball around, work in the garden or even start a water balloon fight!
However you decide to keep in touch, remember to check in with your family members regularly so you can gauge how they’re adjusting to your family’s new normal.