As we navigate through these next few weeks, our new routines as a family are and will be constantly changing. We have gotten used to each other, REALLY used to each other. The space from one side of the house to the other feels smaller than ever. I work from home on a daily basis, and have since I had my first child, so that part is staying within my comfort zone. My husband, on the other hand, does not. We cohabitate well because we spend eight hours apart from each other five days a week.
The first week, like most, was not so hard. We had Spring Break, rested and then got to have an additional break. We slept in, played hard, and watched an abundance of screen time. My husband ran the essential errands we needed and we foolishly prepared for becoming teachers, chefs, and full-time snack buddies for the foreseeable future.
We were not prepared for what I thought was the easiest task, being with my husband twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for who knows how long.
This last week, we have had serious ups and great downs but every day we are learning how to make it work, because there is no other choice.
Having two office spaces that are devoted to getting work done and in a timely manner in one shared space is not ideal on a good day. It is important to each have your own space, one that can be closed, quiet, or private if need be. My husband made his work station outside, which clearly gives us the distance and separation we both require. Give yourself working hours, minutes, seconds that are devoted to working, not watching the kids or making breakfast while on mute with a conference call. Give each other respect in the time needed to complete the work day so that it does not hang over into night time anxiety.
Personal Time Alone
Whatever that means to your partner, let them have it. If there was ever a time where we need a moment to ourselves to blow off steam, now is definitely it. I know that when I say I need to go take a shower, work on a puzzle, or watch a show, he will be sole parent. When he tells me he is going to go for a drive, it’s my cue that he needs a break from whatever is going on in his world. This may take an hour or it may take ten minutes but if it brings your partner back refreshed for the next moment, it is worth it.
We’ve heard the words “family time” on every social outlet these days, even before we had the global pandemic. I feel like we live family time, we are family without an off switch. This is the time to bring out the fun in each other and let the kids see how we love playing together. We had fun (out of the bedroom) before they came along and I try to imagine what we would be doing in this quarantine if we didn’t have kids yet. All of those times that you wanted to be the “fun” parents, now is your chance. Break out the water guns, get your game on, and kids are basically the added benefit. It has been way too long since we have had this much fun and laughter together.
We are trying to keep the news out of our children’s lives for the most part, except for minimalist explanations of why we are staying home and keeping each other safe. As adults though, we have to keep up and we have to be in the moment. We do this together, without the kids. We save time each day to discuss our feelings and let our emotions out. After a long day of being Mom, being a supportive wife is important; I also need my husband. Connections can be made just by sitting down on the couch next to each other or deep hugs in the hallway after getting the last bedroom door shut. Affection is a positive tool for anxiety, its proven science that a hug will calm your heart.
Marriage is hard. It takes an extraordinary amount of work, especially in the times of hardship and heartache that we are all in. We are creatures of habit, stubborn in our ways and in this fast-paced universe, we have forgotten the tools to slow down. We will get angry. We will lash out at those we love the most. I admit, I have had moments I am not proud of in this situation we are all in. Take a deep breath, look at the rock that is going to be there through it all and love them deeply. Apologize for snapping at them and laugh with them when your kids are being such turds you just give up.