By Tobi Millrood

The quarantine associated with the Covid-19 pandemic has required a newfound approach to perspective. New normals are creeping in constantly, many of which require adjustment to prior habits. Still, with this new normal, there are many silver linings associated with the required quarantine. There has been no greater silver lining than the opportunities for family bonding that the quarantine has afforded. With everyone at home, new family habits and new family traditions are forming. Before the recommended guidance of stay at home, many families were living with at least one parent on the road often unable to attend school conferences, performances or competitions. Though some enjoyable life moments have been brought to a temporary halt, new ways of life have become a constant: parents around to help guide homework, family meals together, family walks, family game night, family binge-watching. Whether the new bonding time was forced or not, it has reminded families of the opportunities available through togetherness and the mental health benefits that derive from that togetherness. Most importantly, it has proved that these habits should remain beyond quarantine to maintain good mental and physical health and overall great family health. Here are some habits that should stick around post-quarantine:

Family Watch Night
Before the quarantine, of course, there was plenty of television watching in the homes of families. Often though, it was an irregular schedule, with little togetherness. However, the quarantine has likely required sharing and accommodation of the television. Some homes might not have enough TVs for each family member to watch what she/he wants at night.

Perhaps the sheer busy-ness of life pre-quarantine meant that work demands or school demands prevented the family from watching together. With every night of the week at home together, however, the new normal has allowed room for families to bond over television. This togetherness has meant sharing, accommodation and expanding horizons to watch something one might not ordinarily watch. Together, families are watching Mom and Dad’s old favorite movies, new streaming series that favor the kids or new release movies that the family couldn’t get to in-theater together. In turn, it has led to family discussion, talk of thumbs up and thumbs down, characters and events that are meaningful and a common bond to share. Family watch night is an activity worth staying around when life returns to normal.

Family Exercise
For many families, quarantine has created a strong feeling of cabin fever. Due to the fear of being immersed in the crowded spaces that normal life would bring, families have taken careful precaution to hunker down in the home. Eventually, the urge for an escape from the confines of the home has led to a lot of family exercise—bike rides on a quiet road, hikes on a nearby trail, games of wiffleball in the back yard or a fun-spirited two-on-two basketball game in the driveway—all of which provides immeasurable bonding, along with the benefits to physical and mental health. This physical habit should be held onto as an essential family outlet as life finds normalcy again.

Family New Comfort Zone
Perhaps the most significant silver lining brought about by the requirements of staying at home is that family members have had no choice but to step outside a comfort zone and pitch in, whether to help or find a reason to laugh or lift the spirits of another family member. For some, this meant the first time doing laundry or washing dishes. For others, this meant helping a younger brother with homework, whereas before that, never happened. For Mom and Dad, this meant doing a “Tik Tok Dance” to lift the spirits of a child disappointed that she or he couldn’t go to a playdate or sleepover. For Mom and Dad, it meant stepping away from bills and work to watch a son or daughter play a game of Fortnite or Rocket League. For the kids, it meant stepping into the kitchen to try a hand at lunch or dinner to allow Mom or Dad to stay on schedule for work from home. All of these were new comfort zones for family members, and all of these have enormous long-term benefits. They tell family members that there is a support network, that the family can face adversity together and that the family is adaptable and can find new ways of expanding. This kind of adaptation should be an absolute mainstay when we can return to the normal we knew not long ago.