COVID-19 has forced families around the world to stay indoors and spend a lot more time together. This will not change for quite a while, especially for those of us with chronic conditions who need extra protection.
As I wrote in my previous column, we must look on the bright side. That means we should cherish the extra time we have cooped up with loved ones and learn how to live together. We have a unique opportunity to get to know one another better and build ourselves up.
It’s not easy living in such close proximity, but many of us are privileged enough to live in an apartment or home with more than one room. For example, some Hong Kong residents are confined to “coffin homes“ as small as 3 feet by 6 feet. Still, if we are to maximize our newfound time together, we have to adapt to these quarantine circumstances.
The first steps to taking advantage of living close to one another are accepting personal space and embracing patience. Three of us are staying in my parents’ two-bedroom apartment. During the day, I work from my room. My mom works from her bedroom. We leave the living room to my dad. That way, when we come together in the evenings, it’s as if we all just got back from the office. We maintain our personal space to improve the quality of our time when we’re close together.
There’s a reason why people say patience is a virtue. We can now put that virtue to practice to maximize the time we have together. In our household, we have different routines and strong personalities, but when we’re all together, we need to compromise.
For example, I recently started streaming on Twitch consistently and set a time in the evening from 6 to 8 p.m., when I thought I would get the most views. That timing also allows us to eat dinner together as a family before I stream. However, if I get the feeling that my parents want to have more family time, I’m willing to give up my streaming to comply. It’s all a delicate balance, and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but at least we tried.
Before this pandemic struck, life went by fast. Each of us in my nuclear family was going a million miles per hour in different directions. We had time together, but our minds were distracted by doctors’ appointments, work, and video games. (At least I was.) For better or worse, things have become simpler, giving us room to engage in more meaningful conversation.
My dad has told me stories about his childhood I had never heard before, and my mom has opened up about her faith during our walks together. I feel like I have more time to think and more mental space to listen.
During this time, I’ve also received a lot of advice from my parents. I agree with some of it, but not all. The most important part, though, is how we react. Do you say something you think is really smart but will regret later? Or do you say, “OK, [mom/dad/brother/sister/friend/caregiver], I appreciate your perspective”? We learn from one another when we don’t automatically dismiss what someone tells us.
I understand that tensions are high because of the public health crisis. Huge groups of people have lost their jobs. Many of us are scared. There’s still a lot of uncertainty. But we owe it to the family and friends we are quarantined with to make these circumstances worthwhile.
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.
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