As we are deep in the throes of winter, along comes February, with the promise of romance and sweet connection. Forget Valentine bliss, Swiss chocolate and long-stemmed roses. For many of you right now, it is not the holiday that occupies your thoughts. It’s the weather. Stuck at home for days, a new epidemic strikes: the dreaded plague, Cabin Fever. Tempers frazzle. Stress levels soar and relationships crack le. Are the ones you love the most getting on your nerves?
Develop a strategy for coping. Carve out time for each of you to be alone and uninterrupted. Make it clear this is not punishment; it is refuge. Plan some out-of-the-box together-time. Why not “camp” in the family room? Set out sleeping bags under home-made tents constructed from sheets. Let the fun begin. Give people space — forcing doesn’t work. Respect their decision not to participate and don’t let it spoil the fun for everybody else. Keep the option open for them to join the fun if they change their mind. (The absence of pressure may be exactly entices them to join.)
Agree on some basic ground rules. Ban sarcasm, ridicule, and criticism. Hold your own “Down Memory Lane” game show. Use flash lights to illuminate the “stage.” Cobble together costumes, slather on makeup, and gather props. Let each family member have a turn telling their version of a family “story” then video it on your cell phone. Listen appreciatively without criticizing or offering corrections from your own version of how you recall events. Applaud enthusiastically. We all like to feel appreciated.
If that idea is a bit too rowdy, gather in front of your fireplace if you are lucky enough to have one or by an imaginary campfire if not. Read a story aloud together. While it’s common to this when kids are little, even adults can enjoy it.
Be intentional about your attitude. Model coping with grace and humor. Kids learn more from what we do than what we say.
If your kids can’t let go of their phones, turn the habit to work for you. Have a “text only” time in which you limit conversation to “text only” for a set period of time. Be creative, but most of all be intentional about what you want to create in this time together. Next summer when you look back on this week, what do you want to recall? Will it be a couple of days of silliness, fun & fond memories? Or a low point in your family story. The choice is yours.,