Here are some possible scenarios, and how you and your partner can handle the change together:
One partner stays home while the other is working outside of the house.
You may have been able to share the responsibilities of the household and children during the first few weeks of lockdown as both of you were able to stay home. But as the levels are lifted, these responsibilities may shift.
The partner who leaves may ‘miss’ being home and feel like they are missing out on milestones while out of the house. At the same time, they may be highly stressed about being more vulnerable to contracting the virus while outside of the house, and potentially bringing it home to their family.
The partner who stays home may be stressed and overwhelmed by the responsibility of keeping the kids occupied – possibly doing home-schooling – as well as managing the household in general, with limited freedom of movement.
Understanding the stresses and concerns from each side is vital
Being empathetic towards each other and finding out what you can do to help make your partner’s life a little bit easier is key.
If you stay home with the kids, you can document any milestones by taking photos on your phone or even filming them to share with your partner later.
If you are out, you may be able to organise a delivery of food for dinner to help ease the responsibilities of your partner. You may also be able to access the shops to get essential groceries.
On the weekend, plan your week ahead together and identify ways in which you can help each other. Face this as a team.
What if you’re both working from home?!
This could be one of the first times you’re both sharing the same space for such extended periods of time. Eating, sleeping, working and living together can take its toll on the relationship.
BOUNDARIES are the key here. Make sure you designate working, playing, and sleeping spaces in your home. Don’t set up office in your bedroom if you don’t have to. Keep your bedroom a space for ‘escape’ and sleep. A peaceful zone away from the chaos and clutter.
If possible, have a separate office space where you both can work comfortably. If this is not possible, try to be as considerate as possible regarding noise issues and the amount of space you take up.
Try to set a schedule for the kids to follow. Identify a time for home-schooling, playing by themselves, a little bit of screen time, and family time. Make sure that they are aware that you are working hard, and that they should respect your time and not bother you if it’s not an emergency. If the kids do require attention, try to share the responsibility between yourself and your partner so that each one of you gets a chance to concentrate fully on work for a while.
This is obviously not an idea situation, but with boundaries and respect, everyone in the household can do what needs to be done.
Be sure to enjoy some quality family time in the evenings, and acknowledge the kids’ efforts to stick to the rules.
If you and your partner are struggling to renegotiate your relationship and your responsibilities, or you’re feeling the pressure of Covid-19 lockdown take its toll, why not consider chatting to a professional counsellor?