In This Together

Lawyers are predicting that Coronavirus is likely to cause a spike in divorce rates now that couples are self-isolating together. They may be right for some. Many marriages were already on the brink of divorce and this could be the breaking point.

However, there are a few things these lawyers are not considering.

Humans are resilient.

We are problem solvers. 

Our brains have been working through challenges since the beginning of time. 

For some marriages, this can be a time to evaluate their marriage and family life from a whole new perspective. Communication can improve and couples living very separate lives will now remember they are in this together. 

So I’m going to make my own prediction. For many, working from home is going to save and strengthen their marriages. It’ll be difficult at first, but then your brain is going to get to work figuring this out. This pandemic will be one more thing where you and your spouse can look back and say, “We did that! And our relationship is stronger because of it.”

My husband, Cris and I have been working from home for 12 years together. We’ve learned not only to make it work – but to love this crazy life together. 

For the next few weeks (or months?), the whole world is living the same story. Work and family life all packed together in four walls. We’re trying to figure out how to pay bills while working from home. We’re constantly interrupting each other’s flow. We’re taking breaks to interact with kids. We’re doing way too many dishes and checking the pantry for snacks when we’re not hungry. It’s not easy.

But I want to share a few things I’ve learned over the years that make work and family life coexist so much easier. 

1. Feel Your Feelings Through Journaling

Start your morning with journaling. Make your favorite coffee or tea, grab a pen and start writing. Ten to twenty minutes is all it takes.

Writing out your thoughts in the morning frees up mental clutter, aligns you with your intentions, improves focus and wakes your brain up for productivity. Getting everything in your head out and on paper, helps you to process your thoughts and feelings in a new way. It’s an incredible way to step back and watch your brain think. When we watch our thoughts from the outside, we can decide what to do with them.

We might notice when a thought is an exaggeration or one that sends us straight to playing the victim in our own lives. We don’t have to judge the thought immediately or feel guilty for thinking it. Thoughts are human after all.

Noticing your thoughts is the first step to see where they are holding you back in life. Then you can decide what to do with those thoughts. Maybe you’ll decide it’s helpful and it’s giving you a feeling of determination. You’ll decide to keep it.

Or you may realize a thought is causing you to be angry, hold your feelings in and avoid communication with a loved. You’ll realize this thought is not serving you in the long-run. Now you get to decide what to do. Maybe you’ll find a new, believable thought that will help you move forward and process your situation in a new way.

Journaling is the quickest way to notice what is in our brains, so get to writing! Write it all out. You don’t have to worry about changing anything yet. Simply notice what comes out of that wonderful human brain!

2. Know when to work and when to play.

And by play, I do mean have coffee with your partner! Those moments of connection are so, so good, but they can linger and really set you up for unproductive days. 

So schedule a mini date together—either in the morning or in the afternoon. Make it part of your routine, know your stopping point and honor that. If you say you’re going to have coffee and chat for 30 minutes, stop at 30 and get to work! Schedule longer times on the weekends. 

3. Create a weekly schedule and show it to your family.

Put family time and free time in there first. Did you hear that? I’ll say it again for those in the back. Put free time and family time in your calendar first. 

If you’re accustomed to going to work every day, you have a natural cutoff point at night where you hopefully can center your attention around family. Now that you’re home, however, you will need to be intentional about honoring family and free time. 

Write it in your calendar, “Family/Free Time”. Now show the kids. They need to know you have a stopping point and will spend time with them. When everyone knows what to expect in the family, things not only go smoother, but your time to work will be so much more focused. You’ll get more done in less amount of time. 

4. Set the stage and create a workspace you love.

Spend 20 minutes in the morning making your bed, loading the dishwasher, and putting the laundry in its place. Tackling a few of these things in the morning can make a world of difference throughout the day. No perfection allowed here. Just do the basics. That’s enough! 

Another way you can set the stage for work is to light a candle and let your kids know that if that candle is lit, you are in the middle of a focus session for work. Get specific. Tell them, “My focus session is from 8 am to 12 pm. If you see this candle lit (or a cute sign that says, ‘working until noon’) then don’t interrupt me unless it’s an emergency.”

If your kids are teens, this will be much easier. Younger kids will need you to have shorter sessions and know what they are expected to do during this time. Getting everyone on the same page will decrease interruptions.  Now – you will still have interruptions! But communicating your routine to your family will help most days.

Include yourself in creating a lovely space to work. Take care of yourself. Wash your face and get dressed. Staying in your pajamas or workout clothes will tell your brain it’s not time to be productive.

5. Hire help.

You could hire virtual assistance help, but I’m talking about the kids here! There is not a better time to give them purpose and responsibility. Hire them to clean the bathrooms, watch younger siblings, edit your grammar, do your online bill pay or mow the lawn. (Hint: You can pay them in screen time if needed.)

6. Know When To Break The Rules.

Lose the idea that this all has to be done perfectly. It’s gonna be messy for a while! Flow-through those messy parts with ease and trust that your brain is going to figure this out. One of the beautiful things about working from home is that you can be flexible when life/family needs you to be.

If your plans get thrown off, remember that you are in charge of your life. There are times when a kid needs you or life throws you curve balls. Roll with it. Lose the drama about it. A consistent routine is going to make those interruptions more manageable.

7. Respect Yourself and Respect Your Spouse

Don’t try to change your spouse—that never works! Love them as they are, with all the magic and all the mess in between. That goes double for you! Love yourself where you are, right now, this moment. You don’t have to do this perfectly.

Remember—human brains solve problems. It’s what we’re good at. It takes time to figure out the balance in new things. 

If you can approach the newness with trust, grace, and acceptance, you and your family can bond through this instead of being torn apart.

Now go hug your babies, kiss your partner, and make some money!

You got this!