Psychologist talks about the importance of finding time for yourself while quarantining with family

Many families have been quarantining and social distancing for four months now. For some, this non-stop togetherness might be causing some issues, but meeting up with others also requires important conversations about risk.

Although many families have been able to find the silver lining in having so much extra time to spend together, after being around each other week after week, it can start to feel like too much time together.

“It’s hard for any group, any family group to be together constantly 24/7,” said SSM Health child psychologist Dr. Kathleen Hipke.

Dr. Hipke said quality time is great, but too much can cause conflict. She said it’s a challenge to keep up routines and try to keep kids entertained who no longer have summer camp as an option, while also getting breaks from one another.

“Having maybe if there’s two parents one parent be on and the other sort of is off duty. Whether they’re working or taking care of some other things, or you know, just taking care of themselves for a little while. But building in some rhythms that allow for down time away from the group can be really important,” said Hipke.

If your family is beginning to go out more with friends and other family members, she recommends having important discussions about your family’s comfort and risk by seeing others.

“I just want to acknowledge how much mental and emotional energy it requires even to just think it through. My tolerance might be different than the person we’re talking about maybe getting together with for an outdoor cookout (with), and that’s going to require more communication. Is it important to me that they wear a mask? It might not be to them,” said Hipke.

She said families are having to make hard decisions about not going to events because they don’t feel comfortable. She said it’s ok if you’re not ready for a gathering, but it’s important to set the expectations and talk to your friends about what precautions they’re taking and be honest about your comfort level.

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