As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many of us are working from home.
It’s challenging enough to share living rooms, bedrooms, and now, workspaces as a couple. If you have kids, however, they’re likely doing most of their schoolwork from kitchen tables and corners of the couch too. As partners and parents, this places a huge responsibility on your shoulders. Not only do you have to continue working to provide for your family, but you also have to tend to your kids’ schooling as successfully as possible.
Are you overwhelmed? You aren’t alone. You have a lot on your plate, and it’s okay to acknowledge the weight of the year ahead. But your relationships don’t have to be harmed by it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to set boundaries and keep your sanity during this crazy time.
1. Take Plenty of Breaks
When you’re doing a million things at once, it’s natural to get overwhelmed. To combat this feeling, be sure to take plenty of breaks throughout your day. Spend some time alone, regroup your thoughts, and prioritize your obligations. Check in with your partner and kids when you sense anxiety is running high. Schedule in time for coffee, lunch, and walk around the block.
You can’t do everything at once, nor should you try to. When you start feeling overwhelmed, take a step back, and take a few minutes. This can help keep morale high and perspectives healthy.
2. Separate Grownup and Kids’ Workspaces
If you are both working from home (and depending on the nature of your jobs), you and your partner may be able to share a workspace. Kids’ online classes, however, can be noisy and distracting. If possible, have your and your partner’s workspaces separate from your kids. Set them up at the kitchen table, for example, and retreat to your office or bedroom to get work done. You can check on them as often as you’d like or set up a video monitor to ensure they’re focusing on their school work.
3. Be Patient with Yourselves and Your Kids
You’re going to have moments where you are frustrated with yourself, your kids, and each other at the same time. Try to find a little extra patience deep down. The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, including your kids, so keep that in mind. Some days will go smoother than others.
Embrace the good days with a sense of gratitude. Get through the bad ones with a sense of humor. As much patience as possible, talk things out with your partner. Sharing and problem-solving together increases teamwork and a willingness to be patient and kind with each other…and your kids. As time goes on, it will get easier. If you can stay open and flexible, both you and your kids will fall into new, natural routines that work best for everyone.
4. Make Time for Self-care
When you have to focus on both working and helping your kids with school, you may forget to practice self-care. Now more than ever, you should prioritize your self-care and make time to do so. Self-care is different for everyone, so find what works best for you. Maybe you want to go for a walk alone after work or enjoy a quiet bath. Whatever the case, you and your partner can take turns. Step in and watch the kids for each other so you can both have some time alone.
5. Make Time for Your Relationship
As parents, you are responsible for so much. Beyond school, work of your own, cooking, cleaning, and much more, you need time together. Yes, given all of the sheltering-in-place, it may feel like you’re always together. But making time to connect on a more intimate and emotional level is crucial. Find time to get alone and talk about your interests, goals, and future. Prioritize each other and deal with anything unresolved that might be getting in the way of your relationship satisfaction.
Finally, Ask for Help!
The coronavirus pandemic has upended our normal lives. We’re all trying to navigate this new normal. If you’re working from home and managing your children’s schooling, remember that this is a temporary period. Your kids will eventually go back to school full-time. You’ll settle in at work.
Don’t feel like you have to do this all on your own. The pandemic has given many of us a sense of isolation, but you aren’t truly alone. There are resources to help you get through this difficult time.
Reach out support and guidance. Talk to other couples. Visit online discussions with parents for ideas. I’m here to help too. Please read more about couples counseling. You can get through this. The stress and pandemic won’t last forever, but you can build a strong relationship that will survive it all.