Written by: Rita Magallona
The coronavirus pandemic has changed our everyday lives, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the way we work. Suddenly, your commute has gone from a half-hour to the 30 seconds it takes to walk from your bedroom to your home office.
Even those who were working remotely before the pandemic need to adjust to a life where they can’t go to a coffee shop or co-working space for more dedicated work time.
On top of all that, you have a new coworker – your spouse.
How can you ensure that your relationship survives the challenge of working remotely with your partner during the pandemic?
5 Tips for Working From Home With Your Spouse
1. Acknowledge change
The whole world is now part of the new normal of safe distancing and stay-at-home measures. One way to cope is to accept the changes and find meaning in them. The sooner you and your spouse can do so, the sooner you can plan to deal with them and preserve your mental health.
2. Set your daily schedule
Discuss with your spouse how each workday will flow for each of you. Discuss the following in detail, especially if you have kids:
- Start and end of the workday
- Schedule of regular meetings
- Chore assignment
- Leisure time
- Family time
- Personal time (especially if you are married to an introvert who needs solitude to recharge)
This will set expectations so that you can avoid arguing over whose turn it is to wash the dishes or calm a crying toddler. It will also free both your minds to focus on the task at hand, knowing there is time allotted for household chores and leisure time.
Remember that flexibility is key. Should your spouse suddenly have something urgent to finish, you have to be able to pick up the slack in doing chores. Ideally, your spouse should also return the favor when you have an urgent task.
3. Set a routine for your children
If you have children, this should be a priority. It’s challenging enough to be suddenly with your spouse 24/7. But with schools and daycares closed, having your kids around 24/7 is a whole different level of challenge. The best way to deal with it is to modify their usual routine to fit the new normal.
Prep them for school at home, whether this involves online classes or hands-on activities. Try to have the same time for lessons, naps, meals, independent play, time outdoors, and bedtime. But be ready for the unexpected, especially since some children may regress or show signs of stress at this time.
Also, accept the fact that children will require more attention, so it’s best to split the day into childcare shifts with your spouse. This way, one adult is always focused on supervising your children.
4. Respect “Do not disturb” work times
Agree on your individual work schedules, taking into account periods of deep work that require full attention. When it’s your spouse’s time to attend an online meeting or to concentrate on a task, leave him or her alone. Take the initiative to deal with any distractions like chores, calls, or children.
When it’s your turn to have focused time, signal your spouse that you do not wish to be disturbed. On the other hand, make it also clear when you are doing light tasks and can be interrupted.
5. Define work areas and equipment
Connected to the “do not disturb” times, agree on your individual workspaces. Ideally, you should have separate workspaces to reduce distractions and allow you to get more work done.
Whenever possible, you each must have your own office equipment. If you need to share tools or gadgets, make arrangements about who gets to use them and when. This will depend on the work each must do at certain hours.
With these tips, you and your partner cope with involuntary remote working arrangements while strengthening your relationship. Hopefully, familiarity will deepen your appreciation for your significant other.
Here are even more tips for working from home while facilitating your child’s home-based learning.
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