The pandemic introduced a wide range of never-before-encountered issues for stay-at-home parents, but none so important — if not widely talked about — as adjusting to your partner or spouse working remotely alongside you from home.
Here are three tips I’ve pieced together from personal experience over the past 16 months:
1. Share your schedules
My now work-at-home wife frequently has high-level meetings with clients, and the last thing she needs is the loud sound of kids playing in the background. To prevent this, each morning we take time to discuss her schedule for that day so I can plan activities outdoors or away from the house during those sensitive work times. This is extra helpful when the weather forecast isn’t cooperative, such as during rainstorms, or in the winter, and simply playing in the yard isn’t an option.
2. Plan weekend activities in advance
The key here is to plan activities, not chores. We like to fill our weekends with parks, swimming or other outdoor adventures. Planning gives us both something to look forward to, especially during the long weeks of childcare and work. I do my best to take care of things like laundry and cleaning during the week, so that we can both enjoy the weekends as family time.
3. Save store trips for evenings/weekends when possible
Before the pandemic, my wife had close to an hour drive, round trip, to work. Once she began working from home, it was common for her to go two to three days straight without leaving our property. By holding off shopping at the grocery store or a big box store until she was done with work, it gave her a much needed break from the four walls of our home along with some family time. It she was in the mood to go alone on these shopping runs, it gave her a bonus — quiet time alone.
4) BONUS TIP: ‘Alone time’ is not a bad thing
It’s natural to feel guilty about wanting a bit of time to yourself, especially when most days are spent in the same house as your children and spouse. We make sure to communicate to each other the needs and desires for times by ourselves. Although they don’t happen too often, we both know it’s something that’s extremely important.
If you are a stay-at-home parent with a partner or spouse working remotely, none of these tips by themselves are perfect. Even used in combination, they don’t entirely relieve all the stress of these difficult times. If you’re a stay-at-home parent that’s struggling during this time, I hope they can offer a starting point for you and your family.