How to make working from home and homeschooling both productive and peaceful in Social Distancing
This means figuring out who is going to work from where, making sure you don’t walk in and disturb one another when you’re on group meeting calls, and of course working out the right work-life balance. It may become an annoyance if one of you is used to talking whilst working, and the other is trying to focus and get work completed in silence, or maybe one of you can be a little slack when it comes to being home and can work with the TV on, but the other has a lot more work-related pressure and is more easily distracted by noises.
Not forgetting those of you who are used to working with big teams and having regular chats with your co-workers that you end up turning to your partner to share a little joke or what someone has emailed you, but they are not used to having social conversations whilst working and are getting irritated with you.
Lastly, and most importantly, working from home means it is a little more difficult for most of us to set a clear boundary between work time and personal time. Especially in the current climate where there are so many people losing their jobs, so we want to put in extra time at work to ensure our companies survive this storm and are finances are secure.
The reality is, this period of change requires a lot of patience, understanding, and most importantly communication. I will share 5 key tips for working from home during the social isolation period to help you and your relationship. Next week I will also share tips from my online marriage counselling for how you can use this difficult time to create a healthier, happier connection between you and your partner.
Working from Home Tip 1: COMMUNICATION
Clear communication can really minimise disagreements escalating. It also encourages couples to deal with their concerns straight away, rather than letting the situation get worse and then having a huge argument.
Being able to tell a loved one what your expectations are and then coming to some sort of an agreement where both of you are happy and know what to expect from one another during periods of isolation, can greatly reduce the likelihood of arguments erupting.
Depending on your relationship and work or life schedule, you can plan daily or regular times for conversations to check back in with one another about what is working and what is not – especially as staying isolated together is a new experience and you may need some time to figure out what works best for you both. If you struggle with communication, now is the best time to get some communication marriage counselling online. Working with an online counsellor can guide you individually or together on how to communicate more effectively.
Most couples find they are too busy to communicate, so making the most of the social distancing and isolation to communicate and reconnect is the perfect opportunity.
Working from Home Tip 2: PLANNING
If you have children or animals or other responsibilities, it would be extremely beneficial to divide the tasks between you both. Devise a plan that includes entertaining, feeding and clothing children, or feeding pets, making the dinner, emptying the bins and all the usual house chores so that the burden does not fall on only one person – leading them to feel resentment or bitter towards their partner.
In the plans you can also include dedicated quality time for just you and your partner to do something you both love to do at home – it could be watching a movie, cooking together, playing games, and so much more.
This is key in keeping or building on the love in your relationship as you may not usually get time to dedicate to you as a couple, so it is nice to have the luxury of being forced to stay home and make the best of a difficult situation.
Planning also doesn’t only have to be about short term goals, you can also make time to discuss your long-term goals – for example, where do you both see yourselves in a year, two years, five years and so on. What are you going to do to boost your financial situation? Do you have any business plans that you’ve always wanted to work on? These are just a few examples I usually give the couples I work with in the online relationship counselling.
As it’s good to have and share dreams and aspirations for you as a couple, family and your individual growth goals. Many find it helps keep couples aligned and together.
Working at Home Tip 3: ROUTINE
This goes hand in hand with planning.
Just because you are both supporting social distancing or isolation now, it does not mean that you should see it as an opportunity to let all routine go out of the window. In fact, sitting down with your partner and creating some kind of routine together gives you both a chance to ensure you are meeting your own needs as well as respecting your partner’s needs.
For example, agreeing a time that suits you both to wake up, have breakfast together and start the day. I know this may sound strange considering you are both at home but having a routine when everything else is out of your control, can be so comforting, especially if you have children – children thrive on routines.
Those I support through online anxiety counselling find that having a routine in place will help them adjust to life in isolation, as we definitely respond better to structure.
Staying home can really impact your productivity or energy levels, especially if you are waking up aimlessly, and then working all hours without a break. This is how I started my final year at uni and ended up getting severely depressed.
Balance and routine will ensure you have time to eat, to work and to relax properly.
Avoiding you falling down the trap of working too much or too little.
Working from Home Tip 4: PAY ATTENTION
Something that we all can benefit from is paying attention to one another. No matter how many plans or routines you have in place, sometimes things come up that need dealing with and can affect a person’s ability to interact or communicate with others.
For example, if something goes wrong with work – you may have been able to deal with it easily previously before coming home, but when you are working from home it can be a little more difficult as you need to explain to your partner why you aren’t in the mood to have a discussion like you usually do.
It is important for us to start tuning in to one another – pay attention to your partner’s body language, can you sense any stress or anxiety from them? Do they need you to support them? Or maybe they are better off being left alone for a little while.
Noticing these things and reacting appropriately and sensitively can really have a positive influence on your relationship. It can make your partner feel like his/her feelings are valued and is more likely to encourage them to open up and talk about their feelings or problem, rather than bottling it up because they fear you may not understand them or care.
Home Working Tip 5: TAKE TIME TO RELAX
We have to bear in mind that when it comes to being with one person or your family 24/7 it can get stifling and feelings/situations can feel more intense as there is often very little breathing space.
For this reason, it is so important to make sure you both get time alone to relax. As much as you can learn to live and work together all day, every day, it is healthy for you to have time alone to process your own thoughts, do something you like to do alone and have some much needed you time.
Whilst making sure you get this time alone, it is important for you to give your partner the same, and this goes back to the planning I spoke about earlier.
When you plan your day or week, make sure you are allocating time to be alone for whatever activity you choose to do. A couple who joined my online marriage counselling recently decided to take it in turns to give each other a lie in, which is making them both very happy.