I have witnessed the pandemic taking its toll on relationships as time goes on.

None of us are immune and we are all taking strain. Just the very fact that we have all been together in most cases 24/7 with no outlet and no place to go, no or not much social interaction – what we are all going through is not normal.

For the families and couples trying to home school children, dealing with keeping them motivated and connected, getting through the schoolwork and being aware of their mental health and need to socialise and exercise. It’s been a very long slog – now almost 3 months into this lockdown and with the end hopefully coming into sight in another month’s time.

The huge responsibility placed on parents not just to be on top of home schooling but to keep the family safe and connected and see that they as adults/people are functioning to their best. There is no opportunity for either in the couple to not be okay. There is a responsibility to keep going for the sake of the family.

In certain industries the workload has increased dramatically and then there is pressure to always be on call because after all we are at home….it is very important to set realistic boundaries around work and expectations.

Then there are the jobs that have fallen away and the people feeling helpless and hopeless, part of their purpose being taken away from them. And into the mix the never-ending housework and house duties made more due to everyone inhabiting the home 24/7.

At first most couples tell me they embraced getting back to basics as a family and pulling together and in fact the family/relationships were working quite well; but with the lockdown extending and more and more of the same, we’ve all fallen off the log in a way of speaking. It’s just been too long………
So where to from here I ask?
We all need to dig deep, breathe, and commit to putting our heads down and getting through this.

As parents each of you is responsible for your own mental health and happiness. It is not up to our partners to make us happy. So, carve out some “me time” every week to keep your strength up and keep you grounded. It will give you the strength to come out on the other side.

So, what is needed is a plan and commitment between the couple on how to get through this last phase of lockdown.

Allow for some gratefulness as this gives us hope, by for example acknowledging the warmer weather approaching and getting out into nature more and make the most of where you live.

Allow yourselves to start to dream and plan for things you’ve missed in lockdown. Like planning catching up with family and friends and going back to restaurants and planning holidays.

Stay committed safe and strong and here’s to a better Christmas with more freedoms that were afforded us last year here on the northern beaches.

Counsellor Northern Beaches