Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content


  • +27 21 950 2548


Skip Navigation LinksMedia Centre

Preventing Household Conflict During Lockdown

21 September 2020

Whether you’re living with a housemate or your family, here are a few effective ways to reduce conflict during lockdown.

Research shows that for many right now, there is an underlying sense of worry and anxiety about the future.

You may feel bored, frustrated, lonely, angry or stressed. Combine these feelings with the challenge of finding a way to coexist for a prolonged period, in a confined space, and you may have found the formula for a potentially volatile situation.

While this is a tense time for everyone, the anxiety you’re experiencing doesn’t have to lead to conflict. If you keep the following in mind while you’re in lockdown, you’ll have the tools to defuse a challenging situation before it begins to spiral.

Talk About What’s Going on

People respond differently to stressful situations. Some prefer to keep their thoughts to themselves, while others find comfort in talking about how they feel. If you’re the former, you may need to step a little outside your comfort zone.

Talking about your fears and anxieties in a healthy space can be a form of therapy. If you’re feeling anxious about getting sick, tell your roommate. Worried about financial strain during lockdown? Discuss it with your partner. And if someone is sharing their thoughts with you, exercise empathy and offer a supportive space. Letting go of negative pent-up feelings can potentially limit conflict in future and help you navigate the crisis as a unit.

That said, don’t try to be the sole source of support for each other during this time. “Social media is so marvellous. It’s like prisoners finding a language of tapping to say, ‘I’m here. Are you OK?’ This is our sophisticated tapping,” says Conflict Resolution Specialist, Elaine Yarbrough in a Wired magazine article. Remember that there is also a virtual support network with friends and family outside your household.

Establish a Routine

Getting acquainted with the new normal – being at home 24 hours a day – requires discipline and hard work. It’s an adjustment and will take time for everyone to adapt, which is why it’s a good idea to approach the challenge as you would any other – with a plan.

Work together to outline a fair list of responsibilities for everyone in the household. Include chores for housemates and children, a schedule for looking after the kids, a rotating cooking timetable and even a schedule for time spent in shared living spaces. Involving everyone in the process upfront will allow all parties to agree to their tasks and the schedule, and with everyone’s buy-in, you can create a more harmonious atmosphere in the home.

However, if you find yourself slipping into a pattern of conflict with your partner or housemates, consider switching up the routine and talking about the challenges

Do What You Enjoy Together

It’s important to remind yourselves that you enjoy each other’s company. Whether it’s playing a board game, watching your favourite movie or having a lip-syncing or dance battle, find something that the whole household can participate in and enjoy. Having a shared activity will give you something to look forward to.

On the other hand, if you’ve found yourself in lockdown with a housemate you have a rocky relationship with, don’t feel guilty about spending time apart every now and then. Lean on your virtual support network if you need to talk.

Make Plans for After the Lockdown

Whether it’s your next dinner date or a trip to a park, talk about what you will do once the lockdown is over. It’s important to accept the reality of the current situation, but remember that it is not permanent. Planning for the future will help keep you all positive and motivated.

This lockdown period may be a trying time for everyone, however, working together to effectively communicate as a family unit will create more peace, harmony and happiness in your home.

Note: Domestic abuse is not a form of conflict. If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation during lockdown, reach out to a trusted friend or the authorities to get help. There are organisations that can help.

This article is published courtesy of CareWays.

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
Copyright © Sanlam