ATHENS, Ga. — With the COVID-19 pandemic causing shelter-in-place orders across Georgia, families are spending more time together than ever. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension family life specialist Ted Futris offers advice on how to manage more togetherness.
“Couples and families are getting lots of togetherness, and I’m here to say it’s okay to fight; not argue, but FIGHT for each other,” he said, using an acronym for feed, invest, give, have and take.
Futris, a professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, offers the following recommendations.
First and foremost, Futris says you must, “Feed your body and soul.” Take time to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.
“On an airplane, you are told to put your oxygen mask on before you try to help others,” he said.
Eat healthy by planning your meals and trying to avoid junk food. Get regular exercise. Go for a daily walk.
Getting regular sleep is also critical. When normal routines are disrupted, schools are closed and adults are working from home, you can lose track of days and time, he said.
“To try to maintain normalcy, wake up consistently at the same time and go to bed at the same time,” he said.
Schedule quiet time. Futris and his wife begin their days attending a 30-minute meditation group over video conference. “This helps us manage stress and relaxation,” he said.
Next, “Invest time in yourself and each other.” Focus on now and use this time to invest in family members. “Be intentional about the time you devote to your relationships,” Futris said. “Block out time to check in with each other, especially those who are alone.”
Give gratitude to your partner. “Sometimes we expect our partners to do things for us, but we should take the time to show our partners respect and gratitude,” he said.
Make deposits into the “love bank,” by cleaning up, cooking dinner or helping the children with homework. “Parents are having to help with homework more now and be teachers. That’s a tough job,” he said. “Make sure you say ‘thank you’ to your spouse if they are the stand-in teacher.”
The next step in your FIGHT is to, “Have patience.”
“It’s not always what you say, but how you say it,” Futris said. “Seek to understand and ask for clarification.”
Finally, take breaks and continue to celebrate. “Maintain the traditions you had before this lockdown and remote working situation,” he said. “If you shared coffee with your spouse before work, still do that.”
For more information on maintaining healthy family relationships, see the UGA Extension publications at fcs.uga.edu/extension/gamarriages.
–Sharon Dowdy, UGA Extension