By Anne Peters, LMFT
We love our families, our partners, and our children. Let’s just put that out there. However, we are not used to spending 24 hours a day and 7 days a week together, without being able to leave home (except for the occasional walk or bike ride). If you are working from home, that brings many new challenges we addressed in the last post. But if you are working from home AND your partner is working from home AND you have children in the home… phew, it’s a lot. Let’s talk strategies to make this more manageable.
1. Be open and honest: Communicate with your partner and family. Let them know what you need in order to be successful at work and successful as a caregiver. Encourage them to do the same, then decide together how everyone can function at their best.
2. Find time for yourself (even if it’s just a few minutes in a different room): As humans, we are built to be social creatures. That doesn’t mean we also don’t thrive on some time alone. Some of us need this more than others. Allow yourself to get some time alone and, along with that, encourage your partner and family members to get some alone time too. Need ideas for coping skills you can use during this alone time? Refer back to our past blog post!
3. Find time for togetherness: I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “we are ALWAYS together.” What I mean by this is to schedule in some fun time. Taco Tuesdays, Friday Night Movie Night, or Game Night Saturday all have a nice ring to it! Enjoy each other. You’re in it together. Time to create some positive memories in the midst of all the stress.
4. Create structure and routine: For all of us, adults and children alike, we function best on routine. Waking up should be the same time each day, and lights out the same time each night. Try to plan meals around the same time, too. Predictability lowers anxiety, and many of us are experiencing a heightened level of anxiety over the last couple of months. Children respond really well to visuals, too. Creating a visual picture board documenting the daily schedule (ex. 7:00- wake up, 7:30- breakfast, 8:00- free play time, etc.) helps guide the day and provides predictability.
5. Tag team: Now more than ever, you and your partner would greatly benefit from standing strong as a team. What does this mean in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic? Work days may need to be split for one parent to be “in charge” for any needs from the children. Household management may need to be equally split, and now’s a great time to teach the children responsibility around the house. They can see first-hand how much work goes into getting their clothes clean or dinner made. We can use this opportunity to teach our children, and ourselves, that the world works a whole lot better when we can work together.
No day will be perfect, and some days the only goal will be survival. You’re doing great.