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Creating Safe Spaces Together for Each other

In the second LIVE Session of #SafeSpaces, Mandira Bedi and eminent clinical psychologist Dr Prerna Kohli discuss how the quarantine due to coronavirus has affected our families and our routines at home.

They also discuss how to create a safe environment for you and your family so there’s harmony while everyone is stuck at home.

Watch Part 1 of the Live Session Here

Balancing work, home and parenting

  • The only way to bring balance during this huge change in our lifestyle is to have some time management.
  • Create not just a personal routine but also involve your family so you can plan to spend time together and have time away from each other.

Dealing with uncooperative spouses

  • Nobody is used to these new dynamics of having the whole family home all the time and also not having domestic help to take care of household chores.
  • Even though you may or may not be working, encourage your spouse to help with simpler tasks. Appreciate them so it will encourage them to help you more.
  • If your spouse is unhelpful in any way, don’t feel guilty that you’re not doing enough. Do the best you can.
  • Engage your children to help you in these activities to equip them with necessary life skills. They also want to feel useful in these times.
  • Don’t fight or bicker over chores as spouses. It can take a toll on your children’s health. Be like role models for them, watch your language and actions.

Calming your children, helping them with new routines

  • Children’s usual lives of school and friends have changed. They are stuck at home and they miss being with friends.
  • Children feel better when you keep communicating with them. Keep telling them how the situation is in their language.
  • Make an exciting routine for them and engage with them more because they’re missing their friends. So you have to double up as friends while parenting them.
  • Get them on social media to interact with their other friends where they can do some activity together and connect.
  • Involve them in housework and give them a sense of achievement.

Handling stubborn teenagers in lockdown

  • Teenagers are already going through a conflicting stage of life due to hormonal changes in their bodies.
  • If the child stays in the room the whole day, try to understand that everyone has different ways of coping with this trying time.
  • Step up the communication with your child and show interest in your child. Make the child talk about how s/he is feeling in these times and understand their mental state.
  • If your child stays cooped up in the room for too long, when you get the chance, do check up on your kid to see if any substance abuse is happening or to know what kind of company s/he keeps or if s/he has suicidal thoughts.

Panic attacks and sleep problems in children

It’s important to understand panic attacks. The child could have breathlessness, palpitations, low energy, not taking part in any activities at home, has headaches, bad stomach, poor appetite. These are some signs.

Calm the child and talk to them.

  • See to it that the child is not bingeing movies or on social media all night. That could lead children staying awake the whole night and sleeping throughout the day and this affects their mental health.
  • Ensure that they’re not indulging in junk food and make sure they’re drinking lots of water and having a relaxing bath.
  • Keep their room inviting with colourful, clean bedsheets and nice rugs. A cleanroom is important too.
  • If the child is unable to sleep, sit with the child to assure them that you’re there if needed.

Coping with elders in these times

  • Elders are as vulnerable as children. So we have to be more thoughtful, empathetic about their situation.
  • They also like to be informed to feel some sense of security but limit the kind of information they consume. Overload of information will make them more insecure.
  • Set a time for them to consume media for certain hours only.
  • Involve them in simple activities – peeling potatoes, folding clothes. Make conversations and listen to them, gain some wisdom and give them the respect that they deserve.

Caring for parents living away from you

  • Connect with your parents regularly especially if they are living away from you.
  • Help your parents set a routine for eating, sleeping and doing simple exercises. Keep calling them up at a fixed time and ensure that you’re not skipping these timings.
  • Reach out to the neighbours or relatives who live near them who can go to check on them.
  • Give your parents/elders a list of the relatives’, neighbours’, doctors’ and hospitals’ contact numbers so they feel secure to reach out for help.

Making a better mental space for you & your family

  • You and your family can try these tips together or separately to have some peace when stuck at home.
  • Worrying is normal as long as it’s not causing anxiety and coming in the way of our routine. Keep what is called a ‘Worrying Schedule’ or a ‘Worry Window’ – that you will worry only between a certain time, so you’re not all over the place.
  • Do meditation, yoga and strength exercises – anything that helps you get back your balance and calmness.
  • You can also try one-breath meditation that helps you calm – you breathe in 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds.
  • Find your me-time and when you choose a space where you feel at peace and calm – visualize your sanctuary (a safe place).
  • Maintain a gratitude journal – where you write every day about your blessings and five things that you are grateful for. If you cannot find time to write, then say a gratitude prayer.
  • Reach out and help anyone who needs small acts of kindness. Kindness is not only therapeutic but it’s also rewarding for the giver and receiver.
  • Maintain 15-20 mins of silence every day. You don’t have to stay still but just be quiet and not talk. Silence helps you to become more mindful.
  • If you’re not feeling good, reach out to counsellors and mental health professionals so you can look after yourself properly.

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