Have you established ground rules for Shelter in Place?
As parents we responsible for leading our families through this unprecedented time. It’s true that we can’t dispense happiness or implant cheerfulness. But we can invite our family members to collaborate on ground rules as well as a signal that we need extra support. Talking about our challenges doesn’t make them worse; rather, it bids us to understand and help each other more.
Collaborating is proactive, inclusive, and engaging. The steps are not complicated. Ask your family members to identify and accept that a problem exists, consent to work on it, brainstorm for solutions, reach a consensus, and follow-through. Everyone engages and is valued equally. The goal is to replace chaos and confusion with harmony and direction.
This is how an invitation sounds:
“Have you noticed how we pick at each other more? That we’re more impatient? I expect you to do things that we never even discussed. We all feel limited by the 24/7 Shelter in Place directives. I didn’t think it would be this hard for all of us. Can we set some ground rules so we support each other better and know what to do?”
Once everyone has agreed, ask what is important: from chores and cooking, work and school time to shared and private time. Ask them to bring two or three concerns. Let everyone know that judging and finger-pointing aren’t part of the process.
This is how problems sound:
- The washing machine always has wet clothes in it.
- We have to be quiet in the kitchen because someone is working at the table.
- The after-dinner snack dishes pile up in the sink giving the dish person extra work before running the dishwasher on the way to bed.
- Dinner is never at the same time.
- I’m not having any fun with you guys, and I feel alone.
While these may sounds like complaints, each concern needs to be listened to and addressed. The point of setting ground rules is to reduce conflicts and increase calm and cooperation. The next step is everyone brainstorming for solutions.
This is how brainstorming sounds:
Suggestions for solving the sink full of dishes at the end of the night causing more work for the night time dishwasher may include:
- Use disposable dishes and tableware after dinner.
- Everyone loads their evening dishes in the dishwasher as soon as they finish using them.
- No snacking after dinner.
- Keep it like it is.
Reaching a consensus requires 100% agreement followed by committing to action. After chatting, it’s agreed that everyone will load their snacking dishes in the dishwasher rather than leaving them in the sink. This becomes a ground-rule. These five steps are repeated for each concern. Revisiting a ground rule is essential when a snafu occur.
The emotionally supportive piece is equally important.
Brainstorm for a sign or signal that says I’m not okay now and I need understanding. Then family members can sit with, listen to, and understand the one who’s having a rough time. Kara needs to use the sign because her boyfriend broke up with her. You don’t have the energy to fix dinner because your company announced furloughs are coming, and you’re worried it could be you. Ethan uses it when he misses spring sports. We make our home emotionally safe by listening to and being there for each other.
Clarifying expectations and being present for each other emotionally strengthens our family. As leaders we facilitate this.
I admire all that you do. If I can be of help please reach out to me.