For many people, this is much easier said than done.
Be a channel, not a lifeline.
Jenny Lynn is a woman and mother of two teenagers in Novato, California. In addition to dealing with the added toll the pandemic has put on her immediate family, she has provided immense levels of support to her divorced and separately quarantined parents on a daily basis, including managing their health and financial affairs. "I'm constantly drawn to everyone's needs and it's never enough," she said. "My version of borders is that if my dad calls six times a day, I might not call him back right away. There were days when I wanted to get on a plane and go away. Not forever, just for a break."
If you feel overwhelmed, Dr. Townsend for you to make a list of all of your responsibilities and then identify what you do alone and what can be outsourced. Ask a friend to share errands or purchases. Bleed alternately.
"You must also find that just because Dad calls me six times a day, I am not the solution," said Dr. Townsend. "You have to have thick skin so that you don't personalize other people's misery."
Keep a relaunch in sight.
Jessica Gerber, a senior advisor for a national nonprofit based in San Rafael, California, has worked to set good boundaries. "In four days we went from empty nests to three generations of six adults," said Ms. Gerber. “Our grown children are withdrawn. My 87 year old parents moved in. That's 18 meals a day. It's like running a pension. "
Establishing basic rules was a top priority. "I had to be the sheriff," said Mrs. Gerber. "People behave better when they know what is expected of them. So I said, No. 1, we all have to be kind to each other. No. 2, Grandpa has to wear hearing aids. No. 3, everyone cleans up." On Sunday cleaning day, you have to scrub the toilet, and I'm sorry, when you're 87 you still have to do it. "
These limits may help, but if she ever intends to empty the nest again, Dr. Townsend to develop a so-called relaunch vision. “They say, 'Hey, we know you don't want to be here forever,” he suggested. “But what can we think of to give you and us a vision of how great it will be for you to be autonomous to feel free and empowered? ”The resulting conversation can help the younger person plan steps toward a relaunch.
Many people made promises to their loved ones back in March without knowing how long the pandemic could last.