Dealing With Family Stress During Stay-At-Home Order

By Daniel H Moss, Attorney

Many families are facing problems due to the coronavirus pandemic and the stay-at-home order it has prompted. It’s a difficult transition to shift our lives to become mostly home based, and it impacts many facets of our lives and families. For some, the quarantine has posed significant challenges.

Below are some of the most common concerns facing families during this time:

Child Care: Working or Working from Home
For those working outside of the home during this time, finding childcare has been a challenge. With daycare facilities and schools closed, and available family members or caretakers also quarantined, parents are struggling to find child care.

For parents who have transitioned to working from home, the lack of childcare has meant juggling a full-time job with full-time parental responsibilities, and the added responsibility of becoming a teacher. While the surprise appearance of a toddler in your weekly Zoom session might be a welcome distraction to meeting participants, multiple interruptions during your workday can cause a lack of focus and impact the quality of your work.

While everyone’s solutions to these stressors will be different, my main suggestion for children is to try to stick to a schedule and remember that they are under a lot of stress during this time also.

Loss of Work
With a record number of unemployment filings and businesses struggling, many people are out of work during this time. While stimulus checks have been sent out and other programs have been made available to try to ease the stress lost income, they do not replace a full-time salary. Many families are left worrying and wondering how they will cover monthly bills and whether they will have jobs once this all blows over.

None of us knows exactly what the transition out of our stay-at-home order will look like, but many businesses are gearing up to reopen and some have even reported that they are hiring. While not overly optimistic news, it’s a move in the right direction for many who are currently out of work.

Anxieties at Home
For some people, spending more time together can heighten stressful situations. Even in the happiest of households, living, working and educating all under the same roof for extended periods of time can cause friction. Sometimes we just need a minute away to go for a walk or read a book in peace.

My suggestion is to try to be aware of your mood and the things that trigger additional stress within your family. Try to let the small things go and be patient with yourself and others as much as possible to alleviate some of the friction.

Spousal and Child Abuse
For some, a stay-at-home order can be a dangerous situation. Spousal and child abuse reporting and assistance can be difficult during this time.

If you are in a dangerous situation, evaluate your options for removing yourself and your children from harm’s way. Depending on your situation and living arrangements, you might be able to find ways to diffuse arguments or tense situations in tight quarters by taking a walk or doing another outside activity.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Many are turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with stress during this time. While having an occasional drink may not be a problem, abusing alcohol or other substances can impact your life and your family’s well-being.

If you are unable to access in-person assistance during this time, online resources can offer help or guidance if you or a family member is impacted by alcohol or drug abuse.

All of the factors above can contribute to the depression many are feeling during this pandemic and the stay-at-home period. With limited resources for resolving feelings of depression, many are left with nowhere to turn.

This is a moment when it is most important to take extra time for self-care. Stay aware of the external influences that may cause additional negative feelings. Sticking to a schedule, adding meditation and exercise, limiting television and news, reducing alcohol intake, and reaching out to friends and loved ones can all be beneficial to combating depression during this time. If you need professional help but do not have physical access to it, seek out online resources that can assist during this time.

Many say that we are all in this together, and in some respects we are, but everyone’s reality is different. Everyone is struggling with the current situation in a different way. Try to do your best with your situation, don’t compare what you are going through to others, focus on the most important tasks and people, don’t expect perfection during this time, and extend empathy to those around you – as well as to yourself – during this time.

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