We are learning a lot about our connections in lockdown, both with our loved ones and ourselves. I’ve had both highs and lows in equal measure, but now that some normality is taking place, I’m starting to realise that the forced pause in quarantine has been good for me and my family, even when we haven’t seen eye to eye and have had the occasional disagreement.
There’s something quite life-affirming about having a row with someone you love – it can make you feel safe, reassured by the fact that you can be and express yourself. Bottling up your emotions isn’t an effective coping mechanism, and sometimes a good bicker, even a cry, can be surprisingly cathartic.
I have also been exhausted by my children during this time, but we’ve shared some precious milestones together over the past few months. I was able to fully potty train my youngest daughter, and I had the time and patience to teach my eldest daughter to ride a bike without stabilisers. Her confidence grew and so did mine in my parenting abilities.
If you are fortunate enough to have a safe and secure environment to live in and work from, then this lockdown might have been beneficial to your mental wellbeing too. For those of us who identify as socially anxious, the quarantine may have come as a relief – no more making up excuses to not have to go to those dreaded parties or after-work drinks, plus no commute and packed trains and buses.
I’ve had more hours in the day to do the things that soothe me – cooking, cleaning and spending time with our pets, and I’ve found all of the above calming and cathartic. I also feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I’ve had this time to reconnect with me.
There are some hopeful shifts taking place during this period that I think we should all hold on to and be grateful for.
1. Former Britain’s Got Talent star, Becky O’Brian, features on my podcast. She talks about how she left a violent relationship and moved on to create a healthy, loving family unit for her children. She’s inspires hope in those looking to leave toxic relationships and find happiness.
2. Andrew G. Marshall is a couples therapist and bestselling author. The Happy Couple’s Handbook (Marshall Method, £13.50) is excellent for those who have questioned their relationships in lockdown.
Ask the expert
Clinical psychotherapist Jerilee Claydon has created an online programme with tools to help navigate close relationships and raise children with resilience
Times have changed. While we continue to find our feet in the ‘new normal’, you might be struggling to see things clearly with your loved ones, and there are a number of reasons for the way you’re feeling:
There are three phases that occur during change; these include an ending, a neutral space and a beginning.
Each of these will bring up different emotions and coping strategies, and you might well be in a different phase to your partner or children, which can create a feeling of disconnection.
Here are three ways to make the changing times with those we love as smooth as possible:
1. Acknowledge what has ended: To be able to let go, we must first honour what it is we have lost. An example of this is pregnancy; there is a baby to look forward to but the loss of life as we knew it.
2. Take responsibility for yourself: Chances are what’s niggling you about your partner or children might be less about them and more about you. Check in with yourself. What is it that you need?
3. Practise acts of kindness: Don’t underestimate the small things. They are always available to us and a reliable source of connection. It’s the little investments that bring the long-term gains. And the bonus? Kindness is a win-win. When kindness goes up, stress goes down.
To find out more, see therapyproject.co.uk/parenting-ecourse