World post pandemic: THE FAMILY becoming the center of the world
The official lock-down period came with a lot of challenges for everyone, but especially for families with children. Beyond the movement restrictions and the general anxiety generated by the crisis, families also had the added responsibility of caring for their children’s physical and mental well being. Even more, for many parents, there was added pressure coming from the need to balance work from home activities with child rearing and schooling – certainly not an easy task, that generated anxiety in itself.
The initial shock generated by this new state of things was quite strong, with parents taking social media by storm -complaining of exhaustion as they were struggling to manage a plethora of tasks, all at once. But as the lockdown progressed, family life started to see some shifts. Even under the pressure of all these new responsibilities, many parents found that there was much to gain and much to learn from the crisis.
For one thing, the crisis forced parents more than ever to stretch their “management muscles” – they had to organize better than before to be able to cope, and the challenge proved fruitful for many, as it made them think of solutions rather than problems per se. For Example, in April 2020, 60% of families were saying their state of mind is now solution-oriented, compared to a lower percent of 51% among singles.
“We have a pretty well established schedule: waking up, doing a little sport to compensate not being able to go out. Then breakfast, tele-work, tele-school and then going outside in proximity of the home for the kid to take some fresh air.” (M, 40 y.o.)
For some, the solutions were related to a more organized schedule and finding a new routine that works for the family –but doing this also meant taking the time to prioritize, to sort out what’s important and what’s not, what fits the family needs and what’s too much –overall, an introspection exercise with potential to generate further shifts in mentality.
For others, solutions were more varied –for example, during this time, many families even took a step towards expanding to a certain level and taking in pets for the first time.
Overall, as the crisis raised a lot of dangers to mental health and personal inner balance (for some even similar to a traumatic experience), people needed to feel motivated and inspired in order to cope. Many found a boost of immunity in a sort of “forced positivity” that ensured a stronger self, less overwhelmed by external events out of personal control.
This trend was very strong among families, as they aimed to have a positive influence on other, more vulnerable members of the family - such as kids. In April 2020, families were more likely to say they feel hopeful (51%)and optimistic about the future (40%), while such feelings rated much lower among singles, for example.
In the longer run, many families found that the struggles they went through actually brought them together more than before, as they began using this time together to (re)establish the premises for an authentic, genuine connection with close ones.
Spending quality time with the partner or the kids was a key factor in the process, as was an increased availability to share emotions, to listen to others and event establish new family routines to support this closeness. Overall, families seem to have benefitted the most from the forced lockdown, as 52% were saying in April 2020 that they believe the quality of relationships will rise due to the crisis (compared to only 42% among singles).
Family life was always the subject of tensions, as people struggled to navigate such varied responsibilities –jobs and kindergartens/ schools, work and play, productivity and quality time. Altogether, what the pandemic crisis generated for families was a deeper look at what’s important, closer relationships and a stronger need to make the best of it all.
For brands addressing families, the opportunities to immerse oneself in this newly found universe of family life are wide open. Existing products and services can be put to work in support of healthy family life management or enjoyment. Others can be developed to assist and protect the unity and bonding of families even more than before.
Nevertheless, as employers, all brands and companies face the same challenge: providing workers ample time and mental space to bond with loved ones, in an effort to come closer to the sense of purpose that many had a taste of in these past months – the (yet elusive)ideal of work & life integration.
“Had an especially beautiful day with my family. Days are very similar in this period. We play with the kids a lot, we sneak out around the block but we don’t want to meet the neighbors. I felt wonderful with my wife and kids. I still feel fulfilled when I’m with them.” (M, 40 y.o.)