Op-Ed: Pandemic Changes Family Dynamics


Karly Hamilton

Families are spending more time with each other, due to the pandemic. Illustration by Karly Hamilton ’21. Concept inspired by: (https://www.vecteezy.com/vector-art/208237-family-on-dinner-table).

Karly Hamilton

After spending almost a year learning from home, my everyday routine looks quite different than it did this time last year.

As a concurrent learner, I spend all week at home. Rather than leaving the house for School and extracurriculars, I do both from the comfort of my home. The result: I end up spending more time with my family than I have since my early childhood.

As a result of the pandemic, the way we interact with others has also changed how we engage in relationships—whether it be peers, teachers, or family.

For me, my family consists of my parents and younger brother. I don’t spend all day around them, but they are the only people I share physical space with on a daily basis.

Prior to the pandemic, I rarely saw my brother before dinner because we were both busy with school and activities. Now, our classrooms share a wall.

There are days where spending so much time with the same three people is overwhelming. After all, the saying is “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

A Cleveland Clinic article shared that communication is key to maintaining a healthy family dynamic as we continue to spend large amounts of time at home.

“Be transparent about what you need. While it’s wonderful to have family karaoke nights, it’s also important to get space when you need it,” the article reported. “And that’s where communication comes in.

As a result of the pandemic, the way we interact with others has also changed how we engage in relationships—whether it be peers, teachers, or family.

For starters, technology is at the center of most communications. All of my classes are conducted via Zoom, and if I want to talk to a friend or family member, that happens with a phone call or FaceTime. The only people I don’t have to use technology to communicate with are the ones living under the same roof.

After a long day of concurrent learning, I am not keen on the idea of spending more time online to talk to someone. Instead, I spend my time talking to my family.

While I spend more time with my family than I do other people, I also spend more time by myself. One of the things we quickly learned at the outset of the pandemic was the importance of maintaining personal space.

I am an introvert, meaning I need time by myself to recharge. Prior to the pandemic, I often had the opportunity to recharge on my way to and from school, or if I got home and the rest of my family was out.

Now, it’s harder to find those moments to recharge. Instead of having readily available opportunities to be alone, I have to actively seek them. At first, this was hard to communicate with my family, but after a few months, things started to fall into place.

Spending more time at home has taught me more about what steps I need to take for my mental health, and I am glad I was able to determine some of those things before leaving for college in the fall.

As I’ve been reflecting on the last year, I am incredibly grateful for the time I have spent with my family. I am hopeful that I will be able to physically be at college in a few months, and although I wish the circumstances were different, it has been nice to have this extra time with my family.