During our 11 years of marriage, my husband and I have tackled almost all of the acronyms out there: DINKs (dual-income, no-kids); WOHM/SAHD (working outside the home mom, stay-at-home dad); WOHM/WAHD (working mom, work-at-home dad with kids in school); and now WAHM/WAHD.
All five of us (counting the dog). All day. Every day.
As you might imagine, there are some really, really great things about this new season. And some not so great things.
For one thing, we are both at home all day. This makes it relatively easy to communicate and coordinate schedules, share the car, save money on eating out, and just spend quality time together.
On the other hand . . . we are both at home all day. This makes it hard to find any alone time, or just take a break from the craziness of raising small children. It makes it extremely hard to keep the house clean and the power bill manageable. And it makes it really easy to have “too much togetherness,” as my mom used to call it.
This has only been our normal for a couple of months now, so we’re still in the learning stages. Is it okay to admit we are far from having it all figured out?
We have, though, found a few things that have worked for us and that might help you, too.
Appreciate the season. As one of my cousins recently told me — blink, and they’ll be in school. The days are long, but the years are short, right? This season of small children is not forever, so sometimes you just have to smile over the tops of two messy toddler heads, and two very large cups of coffee, and go with the day.
Communicate. There are times that I have hit my max, and I have to be straight with my husband. “I have to go to bed right this minute. You are on potty duty.”
Get out of the house . . . but not too much. Whether it’s the library, the zoo, the park, or the grocery store, we try to get out of the house at least three times each week. It keeps us from being all up in each others business too much. But, as an introvert, my tolerance for events and outings is low. One of the nice things about working from home is the ability to be at home and operate at our own slower pace. We’re still working to find the right balance.
Set boundaries as you need them. For us, that means the mornings are (mostly) mine to exercise and to write my dissertation. My husband needs time and space to record and edit podcasts in the afternoons. After the kids’ bedtime is a “work free zone,” because we need time to unwind with a hot cup of tea and a tiny bit of mindless TV.
This is what is working for us at the moment, but, of course, as soon as you figure out something in parenting, it changes, right?
Overall, we’re still learning how to work together and parent together. It’s a challenge navigating both of those because we have completely opposite personality types, schedule preferences, and working styles. But, we believe it’s worth the work to create the more flexible lifestyle we’re craving.
Any other working at home couples out there who’ve navigated the challenges of children underfoot? We’d love to hear your tips!