Is there such a thing as too much family time?

Virtual school has left many students working in the same environment as their family, which can lead to added stress. Photo from free use.

Sitting in class with dogs barking and parents arguing in the background, remote learning has created an unanticipated burden on Pioneer students due to the increased time spent at home.

Working at home and having siblings, parents, and pets, all confined to one household can negatively and positively impact the productivity, as well as the mental health of students. Whether students do their work in bedrooms, basements, or more unique environments, the presence of family can create extra tension not to mention extra distractions, on top of an already stressful and challenging school year. 

“Because I do school work in my room to have privacy from my other family members like my sisters, it’s hard not to get sleepy and distracted,” said senior Shailen Chugh. “My productivity could be better if I wasn’t in the same space doing school work where I also sleep and relax. Although I am very thankful to have my own room because I do have friends who share rooms with younger siblings, it still does not compare to a classroom environment.”

In addition to the productivity, Chugh said the tension of being with his family has increased his anxiety.

“I think I also feel a lot more isolated being trapped in my room all day, and I wish I could do schoolwork in other places around the house. But I just can’t with all my family members also working,” he said.

Pioneer junior Winnie Jalet agreed as being at home all day has augmented her anxiety and stress levels.

“I do all my school work in my room at a desk, but I can still hear my parents talking on their meetings downstairs,” she said. “My room is very distracting and sometimes overwhelming, and I wish sometimes I could work downstairs where there’s less clutter. Sometimes I wish that classes were in person again” 

However, she acknowledges that the increased time at home has made her parents more aware on respecting her privacy and space to do her work compared to pre-virtual school.

For Pioneer senior Cassy DeMott, having her older sister away at college has enabled her to do her schoolwork in a new empty bedroom to get a change of scenery from her own room. But she can occasionally still hear her grandma yelling at the dogs, watching TV loudly, and shuffling around the house talking to herself.

“Constantly hearing and seeing family members around the house is irritating and distracting and puts me in a bad mood and makes it almost impossible to be really productive,” she said.

Like Chugh and Jalet, DeMott said, “Being trapped inside all day makes my anxiety worse and being around family so much is exhausting, and I’m always very eager to get out of the house at the end of the school day to get fresh air and space.”

Seemingly, being around family all day can be very taxing on the mental health and overall productivity of students. With remote learning being an ongoing and long term way of education, Dr. Sportsman, the school psychologist, offered some advice for students under these extraneous situations. 

“Feeling confined and overwhelmed being in your home with family and pets all day is totally understandable and normal,” she said. “Going on walks or just going outside to get some fresh air, doing journaling or yoga, or even just listening to music are easy ways to get out of your head and relieve some stress and anxiety that students may be feeling.”