The coronavirus pandemic has revived family life as we know it. For the first time since the early 19th century, many parents and kids — and even extended family — are all under the same roof around-the-clock.
Caretaker and mother of four, Lori Beckstrom, said the experience overall has been a positive one. In addition to raising her kids and teaching, Beckstrom also helps take care of her granddaughter and stepmother, who has advanced Alzheimer’s Disease.
“I’ve had to tell myself we’re embracing a new opportunity,” Beckstrom told Wake-Up Call. “We’re learning things we didn’t know before.”
Beckstrom shared some tips on how to balance family life amid these challenging and uncertain times.
Wake-Up Call: In many homes across the U.S., the pandemic has put newfound stresses on families. What are some tips you have for caretakers or parents?
Lori Beckstrom: The biggest thing for us has been finding things that can remain normal and holding onto those. There are routines that we establish — bedtime routines, morning routines.
We’ve been trying to put a really positive spin on that whole idea of — this is something new, and this is something different and there is stress because you’re trying to protect the people you’re caring for and try to help them make it through this whole process, not only healthy physically but emotionally and mentally.
I know we’ve found some creative ways to be outside whereas before not everyone that we care for outside is a really great choice, but we’ve done that because we felt like that was important to physical and mental health.
I also care for my stepmom who has advanced Alzheimer’s. So just helping her get outside a little bit, has been good for her. And for my little fellow, not being able to play with his friends has been kind of a thing. He has PTSD and some things. So we have also had to really limit how much he hears on the news because he can’t hear things that will add to his anxieties. So we limit his exposure to the scary news. We certainly talk about what’s going on and he’s aware of that, but not every nitty, gritty detail.
What are some other ways you’ve been kind of navigating this newfound togetherness?
We have always played a lot of games in our house and we have continued to play games, especially games that give us the opportunity to talk about how we’re feeling.
We have ordered some things that keep everyone’s brains challenged. We pull those out at quiet time. It’s been helpful for everybody to just have a little space at different times. We’ve been trying really hard to enforce respecting people’s time in their bedrooms.
So how have you been personally kind of balancing your responsibilities, but also kind of taking care of yourself and your wellbeing?
In a lot of ways, I’m not sure that that has changed dramatically. I think the biggest thing for me continues to be trying to make sure that I do sleep, that I do eat things that are healthy, that I do get out of the house and do something. That’s a walk, reading a book — things I have always done.
I also teach and so I’ve had to teach online some and that’s very different. That’s caused a little more stress.
And so I’ve had to tell myself we’re embracing a new opportunity. We’re learning things we didn’t know before. And, you know, we’re kind of all in this together. I think just the perspective is helpful. Attitude goes a long way.
What are some things you credit with helping you sleep better?
We do have a pretty good bedtime routine at our house. The kids go to bed first and then my husband and I take time to do the things that we need to get done that haven’t gotten done. And then we kind of wind it down and get ready for bed. We make sure that it’s nice and dark in our room. We both sleep much better when it’s dark and we usually have some kind of light music on. And we lay in bed and talk for a little bit first, to just kind of relax from the day, even when we’re in bed.
And then really, truly, I know it sounds cliche, but our bed is huge. I mean, it makes such a difference. We had a house fire two years ago and we lost everything. And so while we were rebuilding our house, we were just sleeping on a traditional mattress that was provided by the insurance company. And I thought I would never sleep again. And so literally the Sleep Number bed is the very first thing we purchased when we started repurchasing. It really is just a totally different sleeping experience.
Speaking of routines that you’ve started with your family, are there any ones you hope to keep once the pandemic is over?
Before the pandemic, we would just tell our son: “These are the things that you need to do next.” But during this time, we’ve made charts for quite a few of his daily activities and that is really helping him. He looks at them every night and he’s memorizing them in order.
I do think we all have had more outdoor activity than we had before. We definitely want to keep that!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This is part of WUC’s New Normal series in partnership with Sleep Number.