WHEATLAND – People who have watched the movie “Christmas Vacation” starring Chevy Chase and Bevery D’Angelo witnessed disaster in a humorous way when family inhabits the same space for more than a few days.
It was Ben Franklin in his Poor Richard’s Almanac who published the statement, “Fish and visitors stink after three days.”
Kind of a truism even with all the changes that have occurred in society since the 1700s. There are devices to keep us busy, self-help books to make us more patient, new and exciting board games, and up to 1,000 television stations to keep us occupied.
Still, it seems as if living in close proximity for extended periods of time can pose a challenge to the sanity and the sanctity of the family unit.
The question is very simple. If our community would be placed under home quarantine for a week or more, what types of things would you expect to encounter in the cooped-up world of family. To go into a situation like that unprepared could cause some unexpected trouble.
Smantha Twiford, Executive Director and Victim Advocate at Project Safe, Inc. gave some tips as to long term quarantine in closed quarters with family or friends.
“Obviously here we focus on victims of crime, assault and sex assault,” Twiford said. “Statistically, isolation is one of the key components. Power, control and an abuser isolating their victims, and sort of keeping them under their control.”
She went on to give some suggestions as to how to offset this problem in those isolated areas.
“You need to maintain your contacts outside of the home, whether it’s Facebook, Facetime, email or Twitter,” Twiford said. “It’s that constant contact outside your very close structured family environment.”
To get some separation through communication whether that be on the phone or just as simple as stepping outside is a key component to stagnating in a closed environment.
“Next week it’s supposed to be beautiful,” Twiford said. “So, throw the kids outside to do some yardwork. There can be both extroverts and introverts, and extroverts really need separation to social activity. Introverts, not so much, but they still need to feel a connection with something outside the home. The connection is key.”
Setting Goals and
Outside exercise is a way to keep the body from growing lethargic, fatigued and stressed.
“Another thing is to have goal-focused activities,” she said. “You are going to be under stress due to the threat of the virus itself, and then you have another factor of feeling stuck. You can use that in a positive manner and use some of that time to focus on goals.”
Some of the focused goals can come in the form of “honey-do” lists that the family can do both together and individually. Perhaps putting in a bathroom fan or teaching someone something that they simply don’t know how to do, like changing oil in a car, cooking a meal or building something useful for the family.
“You can also do some gardening and pre-planning is purchasing some seeds,” Twiford said. “It’s causing your endorphins to get up and move around along with the sense of accomplishment of getting something done.
Another thing that Twiford was passionate about was the activities for kids. Taking time to become teacher-parents and realizing that the kids’ world has changed, it has become a scary place and creating activities keeps the mind focused on word problems instead of world problems.
“There are so many resources online too,” Twiford said. “There are household items you can turn into craft things. Also you can find teaching tools integrated into fun activities that are age-appropriate and all you have to do is google the age and activities for that age group.”
In addition to that there are many family games that are on the internet and Twiford’s suggestion was that each member of the family researches a game and then introduces it to the family. Each day there can be a different game from one of the family members.
“Boundaries can be a little more difficult,” Twiford said. “Because everyone’s normal is different. Obviously, always respect personal boundaries, and consent is huge.”
Setting up clear boundaries and rules can alleviate problems in the weeks to come. One of the most used phrases in an unscripted plan is “you didn’t tell me,” or “I didn’t know.”
“Communicate respectfully,” she said. “People in close proximity for a long period of time can get a ‘tone’ in their voice, by which they are saying, ‘don’t look at me, don’t talk to me’ – and for instance, asking if there’s any sugar in the wrong tone of voice will just create an escalation of tempers and irritation.”
Twiford advises to speak with respect, and obviously speak to others as you would want them to speak to you. Also, don’t be afraid to communicate clearly and promptly. Do not let things “slide” and escalate to the point of a blow-up. You can not be passive when it comes to communication.
Another thing is positive reinforcement, encourage your family about the situation, let them know that this is not forever, learn to communicate good things, compliments and constructive team building comments.
When Tempers Flare
“I generally talk to my child and say, ‘this isn’t anything to be that fired up about,” she said. “Let’s take it back a moment, go outside and work it off and work it out, and then come back in.”
She gave other thoughts as to diffusing the situations, such as deferring people to different rooms. She again emphasized the importance of not letting things get out of hand, but address the problems as they arise.
Make sure you have ample supplies
One of the basic things that Twiford spoke about was preparedness. Making sure that you don’t wait until the last minute until a quarantine hits. Similar to having a well-stocked first-aid kit in the car in case of an accident, you have to maintain a well-stocked house in the event that the quarantine becomes a reality.
Make sure that you have ample food supplies, cleaning supplies, band-aids and antibiotic cream, medicines such as aspirin, breathing medicine, cough medicine. Also, because we are at a higher altitude, we are prone to drink more water, and Twiford commented on running out of bottled water, there is always the old school method of getting it out of the tap, remembering that it’s not forever and two weeks of tap water is not going to kill you.
“Low blood sugar is a real thing,” she said. “Make sure when they get ‘hangry,’ there are foods and snacks readily available.”
Another very important thing to remember is that when people are stressed, they tend to want to eat more. A danger is eating up all the supplies in the first few days. Make sure that to a degree there is a “food budget” in place with some sort of boundaries and rationing.
Pets can be a comfort or a chore, and that is simply a matter of perspective. Twiford said that pets will feel the stress as much and sometimes more than humans, and when they get stressed, they can become “pesky” until you come out of your funk.
“Pets are always going to be, by far, good,” she said. “They are already sensitive, and if you’re upset, your animal will come over and try to figure it out by poking at you and get your attention away from anything you are stressing about.”
That is the way they inquire and try to help. Also, make sure that you have enough supplies for your pet.
There are always ideas. For most of the problems, there are solutions. Have a family meeting when a crisis arises. Create a family journal. Build a family project together that you can all work on a little bit each day. Limit your stagnation by not doing the same thing each day, hours upon end. Limit the television and gaming time. A variety will bring growth and perspective.
Ask For Help
When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out to those outside your home for some help. Therapy, a listening ear and trained personnel can be a great asset during this time.
“They can call us for referrals, for ideas, for games they can check out or computers they can check out,” she said. “We also have the Department of Health Poverty Grant which is a community service program. If you qualify, we may be able to help with rent or food provided that it’s available.”
The public library is also a great asset in times of crisis.
“The library is closed to public spacing, but you can call them and tell them which books or videos you want to rent and they will bring it out to you via curb-side delivery,” Twiford said.
Project Safe has a list of resources that can help you also. You can call their number at(307) 322-4794 or go to their website at https://www.projectsafe-wyo.com.
To avoid the “Christmas Vacation” scenario, the key is preparedness. They say to hope for the best, but brace for the worst. Plan like it will happen. If it does, you’re ready. If it doesn’t, you have the peace, knowing you were ready.