WEST JORDAN, Utah — UTAH – With kids home from school and adults working from home, some couples and families are getting a big dose of time together – FOX 13 spoke with a marriage and family therapist to get some tips that can help everyone co-exist in self-quarantine.
“So this is the Ford residence right now,” Kyle Ford said as he recorded a virtual tour of his West Jordan home. “This is Marshall he’s walking around,” he said as he pointed the camera at a large golden doodle. “New puppy’s kind of taking a break in his thing.”
“Grayson, he’s reading a book… this is my lovely wife, working away… this is Harrison, the showboat… and then our daughter, our 2-year-old daughter, is having some ‘me time’ with her Ipad… say, ‘Hi’ Raimy!”
For Kyle, his wife, three kids (ages six, four and two) and two dogs, this is the new norm.
Like many Americans, concerns of coronavirus have led them all to self-quarantine at home.
“It’s surreal and that, I think is the hardest part, is that you don’t really know, you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know how long it’s going to last for,” Kyle said.
Right now, they’ve been around each other every hour of every day, for about a week.
“A lot of dancing around, a lot of just trying to figure out what the next task will be that we’re going to do to keep everybody happy,” said Kyle.
But, when it comes to isolation, sometimes time with your family – turns into too much time with your family.
“Is it too much time with the kids? I would say yes,” Kyle said. “It’s not anything they’re doing, it’s just they’re kids, they want to go do stuff and you only can be the bad guy who says ‘no’”
“We work full-time, so we love our kids, but we don’t see them for almost 8-hours a day because we’re always working, now we’re seeing them 24/7,” Kyle continued.
The Ford’s aren’t alone in feeling overwhelmed.
“People are having too much time together,” said Laura Heck, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Utah.
Since the pandemic started, Heck said she’s seen more stress and tension among her couples.
“It really is this delicate balance of needing to have that personal time and that individuality, as well as that togetherness because now a lot of couples are going through the overload of togetherness time,” Heck said.
“There’s this expectation in quarantine that our partner is going to show up for all of our needs,” Heck continued. “That they’re going to be our everything, they’re going to be our caretaker, our nurturer, the person that we go to with our concerns, they’re going to be our best friend and they just can’t be [all] that.”
Heck said there are easy things families and couples can do, to help keep the peace in isolation and shared space.
Be intentional about separating from your partner
One way is to create distance, no matter how small your living quarters are.
“We really have to be intentional about separating from our significant other, and not just separating in the room but actually going to a space in the house where you can’t see anybody else,” said Heck.
Create a sanctuary for yourself
Heck said adults should try to ‘claim a space’ in the home that they can fill with things they love.
“I don’t know if there’s that space where you can just go and claim and say, ‘This is my zone, when I go into this zone, this is where I feel most comfortable, most at peace and nobody else is welcome in this zone.”
Plan to spend time alone
Physically calendar and schedule time where you can retreat and go to your space by yourself.
“Maybe between two and three, I go for a walk and then around seven o’clock p.m., I just retreat to a bedroom and I read a book by myself and you know that that’s going to be my along time,” Heck said. “Plan and talk about it when you’re not actually feeling like you want to gouge your eyes out because you’re sick of your partner.”
Infuse your house with fun
Heck said this can be done in simple ways like, turning some music on, hanging lights, posting your children’s artwork around your walls.
“It’s just a way to brighten our times when some of us are feeling more anxious, more depressed, more frustrated than usual and do that inside of your home,” said Heck.
Seemingly small steps, geared at helping any couple or family take on isolation one day at a time.
“I think we just need to enter into all of this with a state of humor and kind of laugh it off like, this is going to drive us absolutely up the wall so because of that I’m going to be in my bedroom for the next two hours,” Heck laughed.
As for the Ford family, changes are coming.
“We’re trying to come up with routines to do different things and keep it structured because if we don’t I think [the kids] are going to start to take over,” Kyle laughed.