Staying Sane & Building Relationships at Home During COVID

Arbor Health co-founders, Dr. Zendi Moldenhauer and Amber Ratcliffe discuss things you can do to get clear on priorities, set expectations, and build relationships at home during COVID.


Today we are going to share a little age old wisdom on how to stay sane by getting clear on priorities, setting and communicating expectations & boundaries, being a bucket filler, and building your relationships even during quarantine.

These are challenging times with everyone home trying to work, home school, routines turned upside down - this is HARD. Please be kind to yourself and others - we are all struggling with this.

We have some advice to share, but we are the first to admit that we are not perfect and often stray from these principles as real-life gets in the way. What we can say for sure is when we return to them, life gets better for everyone in our houses.  

The Jar of Life - Prioritize what is Important to You

  • Remember, the big rocks have to go in first. These are things like your health, your family, your relationships.
  • Then come the pebbles - your job, paying bills, hobbies, and other important things.
  • Then sand - all the time sucking things we do all day - emails, house cleaning, watching TV.
  • Then coffee - make sure you make time to connect with friends.

The bottom line, is there is room in the jar for everything if you prioritize putting them in your life in this order. If you put sand in first, or pebbles - there is no room left for the bog rocks - the important things.

This moment in time gives us a chance to re-evaluate our priorities.

Get clear on your priorities – how will you ensure you put things back in your life in the right order? What are your rocks, pebbles and sand?

Be Introspective – journal

  • What are your priorities?
  • When you look back – how will you wish you would have spent this time?
  • What do you want to teach your kids? What do you want to learn or create?
  • Turn off the noise – so you can hear yourself – get a good pair of headphones with some white noise or background music
  • Spend time in quiet & nature
  • Make white space in your day
  • Lower your standards – what just isn’t that important at this time? And maybe in the future?

Building relationships: Communication

  •  Discuss priorities, expectations & boundaries with your family
  • Clear expectations are crucial to helping people get along i.e. don’t bother me at x times, but it is okay to approach me during these times.
  • What are your boundaries around work or school? No email after X time, no devices at the table, etc. Work first, play after.
  • Talk about the right time and the wrong time to ask – not late at night, not when I’m rushing to get dinner on the table.
  • Give others a definitive answer and then follow through – I can’t right now, but I will do it at 6pm.
  • Have your family do the same exercise and share with each other

Building relationships: The Bucket

  • The Bucket – holds your good feelings and happiness – fill it when you make them feel special – says or does nice things, bucket dippers – ignoring, making fun, say or do mean things. Bucket dippers have an empty bucket – try to fill their own, by dipping into someone else’s. You fill your bucket by filling someone else’s buckets.
  • Discuss everyone’s buckets
  • Basic needs: healthy food & nutrients, good sleep, exercise, nature, financial stability, shelter – make sure you are getting these
  • Love & Belonging: Everyone needs to feel a sense of belonging and significance
  • Know each other’s love languagesActs of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Gifts
  • Schedule special time with each other 1:1.
  • Build tribe
  • Include your family in problem solving, setting house rules & doing household chores – devise a system everyone can agree on and come up with logical consequences if they can’t. Now is a time to teach your children life skills, let them build a feeling of competence, let them know their role is important.
  • Create a set of family values together (what are the rules by which you operate in life) – write them down
  • Tell old family stories or stories of when you were a kid
  • Watch home videos & look at photos
  • Talk about traditions – create new, honor old

We need a village – no one person can be your everything – this is where the cup of coffee comes in. We are social creatures.

  • Make time to talk to friends
  • Let your kids zoom or FaceTime call, or play video games with friends online


Get clear on priorities, set and communicate expectations & boundaries, be a bucket filler, and build your tribe.

 This Website has been created to provide information about functional health care services and is for general informational purposes regarding functional health care that should never be construed as medical advice for any person, including patients of the Practice. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 


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