Lockdown has brought with it a huge range of challenges that affect us all in different ways. Life as we knew it has changed, and for some, one of those changes is how we work.
You might be one of the many couples working from home together, and possibly have been since March — and the likelihood is that things will continue to look like this for a while longer yet. Perhaps you’re looking longingly at the couples who still need to leave the house to go to work, or maybe you’re wishing you had the house to yourself. If before lockdown you were used to working alone at home, having someone else suddenly sharing your space all day may have been a difficult adjustment.
Perhaps you’re parents trying to balance working from home while also having to homeschool or run around after toddlers. The joys of having more time together or being able to share a lunch break may have faded a little by now, and it may even be that previously defined roles at home don’t seem fair anymore.
However you’re feeling, know that you’re certainly not alone. So many households around the country, and even across the world, will be going through similar situations to you. Experts say that even the strongest of relationships are under strain right now, and it’s not surprising given the circumstances.
Here are a few ideas that may help to ease some of the pressure of working from home together in this season …
Respect each other’s ways of working
Some of us love to work with music on, while others need complete silence to be productive. It can be hard to meet each other’s needs when they’re different to ours. Investing in (or asking your employer for) noise-cancelling headphones may help, as would being creative with where you work, or having a plan in place for break times.
Set clear boundaries for work and home time
Some couples will need to pack their work area away each day, because they’re working at the dining table, while for others it may mean shutting the office door and intentionally not checking emails after hours. Whatever it looks like for you, separating work and home will have a positive impact on day-to-day life.
If you know you can’t be disturbed during an important meeting and you’re expecting a parcel to be delivered that needs signing for, try and let your partner know in advance. This will be especially important if you’re also juggling homeschooling or childcare runs. Shared calendars or a quick conversation about the next day can be really helpful in preventing last minute panics.
As with many other things, household duties may well have changed since lockdown began. What was once something that your partner did, may now be easier for you to complete. Or due to your conflicting schedules, something that used to be left to chance, may now need to be planned in advance. Roles at home naturally change during different seasons of life, and being aware of this, and taking time to talk about it can help put you both on the same page, thus and to avoiding stress and resentment or stress.
Lockdown is not easy for anyone, and we’re all impacted in different ways. We’ll each have good days and days where we need a little more love and support. Kindness costs us nothing, but speaks volumes to our partner. Looking for little ways to show each other that you see and value them can make an enormous difference, turning a tough day into a much brighter one.