What is a home? Is it just a place of comfort, security and relaxation? Or, possibly, has it taken on a new identity amidst the coronavirus pandemic?
As we’ve all come to embrace new roles these past few months, our homes have very much done the same becoming home offices, daycare centers, classrooms, gyms and so much more.
But with our homes theoretically becoming a one-stop-shop for all our self-isolating needs, how do we manage to keep the peace with our families turned coworkers and classmates?
Raquel Perez, instructor for the Department of Communication at FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) and conflict resolution expert, offers some insight in her free virtual course Peacekeeping Your Home: A Conflict How-To.
Perez, in collaboration with FIU Online, constructed this conflict management course to help families, friends, roommates or whoever we’re isolating with, weather the storm of unexpected confinement. The course applies the wisdom of self-awareness, self-care, and self-advocacy to maintain peace between us and our loved ones.
“Our homes, for the most part, have always been our safe haven and our place to retreat,” Perez says. “It serves as a signal that the day is over. I’m hoping this class will help restore and maintain that peaceful and sheltered feeling our homes are supposed to represent despite the fact that we’re also using them as workspaces, schools, gyms and nurseries right now.”
The course is divided into three entirely self-paced modules, which include activities that will help solidify what you learn. After completing the peacekeeping at home how-to course, users will be able to understand their conflict style, differentiate between conflict management and resolution, learn de-escalation strategies and develop objectives to address conflict.
The course even works great if you’re isolating on your own. The strategies included in the course extend far beyond the home and can be used in the workplace or in any significant relationship – be it work colleagues, friends, family, significant others, etc.
Perez says the course is designed to be fun, easy, insightful and full of concepts that can be applied right away.
So, just what are some of Perez’s best tips to help keep the peace at home?
- Establish ground rules.
Create some ground rules with the people you’re self-isolating with, especially if you’re sharing the same spaces. But it shouldn’t be hard and fast rules. It should be rules that can be easily changed or modified if needed.
“If we’re sharing a space, it really comes down to creating a schedule,” Perez adds. “So, if I have to take calls in the morning, you take calls in the afternoon or vice-versa. Creating a system will make it a lot easier to share spaces with others.”
Perez also points out that we shouldn’t be afraid if the schedule doesn’t immediately work. There’s nothing wrong with working together to figure out a new plan that fits our needs. Perez says this is the beauty of understanding the difference between conflict management and conflict resolution, which she goes over in her course.
- Prioritize self-care.
Perez’s other tip for maintaining the peace is prioritizing self-care. Before isolation, we all had the option of going out, venting with friends, hitting the gym or even spending the day at the beach. With that luxury no longer readily available to us, Perez claims we have to build those mechanisms for self-care in our homes.
“One way to do that, which the course discusses, is to create a self-care calendar and asking those who we’re isolating with what time they need as well and then respecting that,” she says. “So, if you’re isolating with someone at home who loves playing music, you know that you’ll have to wear noise-canceling headphones for a few hours and give that person that time. If we give people the time and space to breathe, we will see how our conversations and interactions become much better.”
The Peacekeeping Your Home: How-To course is already available through canvas and is free for anyone to take, even if they are not affiliated with FIU. A good strategy to implement is completing the course with the people you’re isolating with so you all learn each other’s conflict styles and the best way to accommodate these different styles.