The other night I was at my limit and said, “I’m going to the store to get some ice cream.” As soon as I said it, the realization of our current situation hit me. And just like a two-year-old, I quickly started to fall apart because my idea of getting out of the house for a treat and time to myself wasn’t an option. Instead of sharing my feelings of disappointment and exhaustion, I took out my frustrations on the one other adult in the house, my husband.
How many of us in addition to struggling with our kids, balancing their schoolwork, our jobs, and the daily household tasks are starting to feel COVID-19 is impacting our marriage too? Our spouses have now become our co-workers and like in any job, having co-workers doesn’t come without its conflicts.
So what are some ways to make this time of being all together ALL the time more manageable?
Have a “Commute”- Before you log on to work or start schoolwork with your kids, find a way to get that 20-30 minutes to and from work back on the schedule. Go for a walk before your day starts, ride your bike, or take a drive around your neighborhood. Use that time to mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead. At the end of the day, repeat this activity to process all that happened and to transition into family time at home.
Be Aware of Delegating- My husband and I noticed we were constantly delegating tasks to each other. “I have a meeting at 9, so can you help the kids?” “Yes, but then you need to make them lunch while I talk to my supervisor at 11.” Have conversations ahead of time with your spouse about your schedule and come up with a game plan for each day together. The hope is by doing so, you will feel more like a married couple instead of each other’s boss.
Check In- Be intentional about checking in with how your spouse is doing. How many of us would text or call our spouse while they were at work prior to COVID-19? Continue to reach out to one another and ask about tasks they are working on. For many of us, working from home is not as glamorous as we thought it would be. We all need encouragement we are doing a good job, especially from our spouse.
Have Fun- While this is a scary time with many unknowns, make this time working from home with your spouse fun! Send emails to your spouse saying there are grilled cheese sandwiches in the break room or coffee was delivered from the Starbucks down the street and is in the front lobby. Use this time to show your spouse you recognize the difficulties of this new normal, but your relationship is still a main priority.
Extend Grace- Yes, your spouse might leave their dishes out or drink the last cup of coffee but do your best to extend grace and lower the bar. Embrace this extra time with your spouse and family, including the messy parts. Blessings to you and your family.
-Haley Morte, MS, LAC Candidate, Child and Family Therapist