How Lockdown Changed Family Dynamics

What a crazy 18 months of change this has been.

If a time traveler had shown up even five years ago and told me about the change that were going to happen! That countries would close their borders and families would have to be locked down with each other, I would have said they were crazy.

Who knew, right?

It’s pretty safe to say that the past 18 months have been unlike anything ANYone has ever experienced. The world literally stood still as governments tried to do what they determined was best to keep people safe. Even as I write this blog, some countries are still under lockdown with no real end in sight.

Regardless of your opinions on the matter, one thing is for certain: lockdowns changed family dynamics.

Not all of the changes were great, but some were definitely an improvement. Here are some changes I’ve observed both in my own family and those of friends. Let’s get the negative out of the way first.

The Bad

Isolation

With schools and extra-curricular activities shut down, children grew more isolated. Kids need kids, it’s as simple as that.

But adults felt more isolated as well. Interpersonal relationships are vital to our mental health. Face it, didn’t you find yourself at some point even missing that annoying person at work? We missed human contact with people other than our families.

Electronics

Because there were no personal interactions, people turned to electronics. Kids got lost in their phones because that was the quickest way to communicate with each other. Although, if you have teenagers, I’m not sure you would have noticed a difference in phone usage!

We also all got used to video conferences, as people participated in everything from birthday parties to weddings on Zoom calls. It often felt like the opening for The Brady Bunch with everyone in their little windows. That was better than nothing but still didn’t take the place of real-life, in-person communication.

But enough of the downer stuff – here’s how I think how family dynamics actually improved during the lockdowns.

The Good

Family time

The number one thing I hear from anyone I talk to is that the lockdowns created more family time. Mostly this was because people worked from home and kids’ extra-curricular activities were canceled. All of a sudden, people weren’t having to be on the run from sun-up to sun-down.

Instead of passing each other on the way out the door, couples were able to take time with each other. Families with kids actually got to spend quality time with them, instead of just shuttling them around.

Traditions

Because of this increase in family time, I’ve heard a lot of people created new traditions, or revived old ones that they remember from their childhoods.

Some reinstated a Family Game Night. Others put a night aside to do something different from the family norm. For example, one family I know made Saturday night their “theater” night. They would watch live productions of plays or musicals that were available for streaming.

It wasn’t something they would do normally, but they gave it a try, just for something new.

Communication

I think that lockdowns actually helped us with our communications. We were forced to confront issues within the home instead of being able to ignore them because we were “too busy.” And, having to be in constant contact with family members, we had to learn how to communicate clearly.

Nobody wanted to spend lockdown being angry with each other all the time.

It was also a chance to really talk to each other, especially with kids. Opening up the avenues of understanding and having the chance to really listen to them gave them more confidence. And that represented a huge shift in dynamics for many families.

Time

I think we all realized that time is precious. Having time to talk to loved ones, time to listen to our kids, time to complete projects that had gone by the wayside…all of a sudden, we had that time available. And we acknowledged how important that time was.

Not all families are the same (obviously). And I recognize that the lockdowns might have been completely different for you, or you might have found other dynamics that changed.

But they did slow us down. We went from 60 to zero in the blink of an eye. I’ve often talked about the importance of listening to your body when embarking on a fitness or diet regimen.

The lockdowns forced us to listen to ourselves and to each other. Most families I know took advantage of this and improved their family dynamic. I hope that everyone was able to realize something positive out of the lockdowns.

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