Protect Your Sanity & Your Marriage During the Coronavirus Lockdown
by Megan Wyatt, Founder of Wives of Jannah
As I write this blog post experts are saying that the worst has yet to come regarding the Coronavirus. Families have spent weeks in lockdown mode scrambling to find some degree of normalcy while stress and tension continues to increase.
For some families it's having to adjust to working full time while the kids are home and suddenly being responsible for their education. For other families, there are elderly parents living in the home and the constant fear that someone is going to bring the virus back home and make them sick. While some spouses have salaried jobs that continue to pay, others are being laid off with no salary in sight. Kids are bickering left and right and there isn't anywhere to go or escape to except...and this is still a maybe...the bathroom!
Jokes are floating around social media reminding people what day of the week it is, to try their jeans on to keep an eye on their weight (hello pajama pants), and to remember that they just ate a bit ago and to leave the kitchen.
All jokes aside, being in close proximity with so many stressful things happening all at once can take a toll on a marriage. Previous issues that would cause fighting can get triggered more easily when you're on top of each other's heads all the time. Expectations aren't clear, everyone is getting grumpy, and....boom. A couple has a major blowout fight with the kids in the front row watching.
I want to share with you some tips to help you maintain your personal sanity and protect your marriage.
1) Maintain Your Sanity.
Yes, I noticed I just repeated myself and it's for an important reason. Your mental well being is the first and most important priority to keeping your marriage in tact right now. If you aren't well, then it's only a matter of time before you start taking things out on your husband, scolding your kids over small issues you'd normally let go of, and find yourself unraveling.
I NEED YOU TO DO THE THINGS THAT WILL HELP YOU STAY SANE.
You will have to create a new sanity ritual in your family schedule. Don't wait for the kids to be perfect, for the house to be clean and organized, or for your husband to decide to ask you, "Do you need alone time?"
You've got to take charge of your well being by taking charge of the family. Children, especially, have no limit to what they need and want. You have to be the one to set boundaries. (A tip needed even pre-lockdown lifestyle may I add.)
Your husband may work all day and then expect his normal nighttime routine of dinner, phone, prayer, and sleep to continue because he hasn't noticed that your life has completely changed too.
Don't fault anyone for not noticing your needs; advocate for them.
2) Take a private walk outside.
If your not forbidden from state laws to walk outside for fresh air, please make sure you do it every single day without any kids or your husband. Nothing personal to anyone but you need to go out and just hear yourself think for a bit. You don't have to make your walk strenuous, although cardio exercise is good for you, but you need to see the sky, hear the birds, or just breathe fresh air. Take advantage of your local neighborhood walking paths or nearby trails while maintaining social distancing. If you can go first thing in the morning, you'll start your day having given yourself some of your best energy. It's a lot easier to take care of the family when you feel like you've taken care of yourself and immersed yourself in nature and light exercise.
3) Make alone time boundaries in the house.
Allow certain times of the day to be the time you go in your room, shut the door, and do absolutely nothing or anything you want. Your husband needs that permission and so do you. If your kids are old enough to go off alone to their rooms then send them off for the same. If you have little ones, trade off on "pretend I'm not home" time with your husband. If your house is snug with everyone being there at the same time this becomes even more important just to create a little space for everyone. Togetherness is lovely except when it's just too much and everyone feels overstimulated. Don't feel guilty for wanting space. It's normal.
4) Reduce kitchen work.
If you argued before about cooking and dishes and cleanup things are going to get even more heated in the kitchen if you don't make some changes to keep you not just sane but less reasons to feel irritated with the family. Use one water bottle for each person in the family for water so cups don't pile up. Or choose one cup a day, one plate and one set of silverware. Everyone washes their own stuff unless they are under four feet tall. This way you aren't living in the kitchen waking in circles are the minutes of the day are lost in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Everyone should do their part to lighten the load. Make it easy for them to help you.
5) Virtual playdates = sanity time.
My kids have been enjoying some virtual playdates with their friends. It's been so wonderful hearing them laugh and talk with their friends. My five year old discussed legos with a friend, and my eight year old played dolls with her friend who had her own. The kids have been making robots from packaging and cans they find and sharing them together online. Let them talk to their friends, let them enjoy time together, and then use that time either for yourself to relax or maybe for you and your husband to catch up alone. Facetime, for example, can host up to thirty people for free on one video call. That's probably too many kids at once but even a group of five will keep them entertained for quite awhile.
6) Pray together.
As often as you can, pray with your husband. Take that spiritual break together to remember Allah and share a space that is heart softening for the both of you. By coming together for prayer you are both supporting each other in taking conscious breaks for the sake of Allah - breaks that you both desperately need even if you don't realize it. The remembrance of Allah is one of the most important ingredients for your relationship. It helps you keep yourself in check, and let go of things that aren't worth holding on to.
7) Avoid major stressful discussions if you can.
If you feel that tension is high in your household right now it may not be the best time to make some major decisions or talk about major on-going challenges you have both been facing. When dealing with stressful situations, space and breathing room can go a long way in keeping attitudes cool and calm. If you can avoid major topics which are stressful, then put things on the back burner. Especially if you or your husband have just lost your stream of income, someone in the family is sick, or you recognize that either of you are really struggling to find balance right now. Be merciful, be patient, and be gentle. There is a time for everything. Check in with yourself to see if now is really the right time.
8) Call your friends.
You need your sisters and your social life. You might not be able to meet people right now in person but phones and video chats work for you too. Virtual tea time is a thing. Create hangouts with your friends, check in on others, and make space for you to catch up on each other's lives. Don't allow yourself to truly feel isolated. Women need other women in general, otherwise they risk putting all of the burden for their emotional needs onto their husbands. Of course, a husband and wife should have their own emotional bond and dialogue, but friends help balance the need for interaction, sharing, venting, and connecting.
9) Make time for intimacy.
This one might be a little more tricky if you have a full house all of the time, but none the less, it's an important part of your marriage. With days and nights blending together right now you might find that a week is flying by and you haven't once even hugged let alone been intimate. Check in with each other and make space and time to be together. Things may not be perfect right now, but relationship maintenance keeps things from becoming terrible insha'Allah.
You'll notice that most of these items on this list are relationship tips that are beneficial anytime. Many of these are the same goals that wives and couples I work with in coaching end up focusing on. Things like alone time, walking alone, or connecting with friends sound so simple but so many women don't focus on their own self care.
When you take care of you, you are better at taking care of and loving others. Hang in there. We're all in this together. <3