As reality has now started to set in that working from home while taking care of our kids might be our normal for awhile, it’s important to figure out how we are going to be able to effectively do it all. My husband and I have always been a duel income household where we both were very aware of the importance of each other’s careers. Up until this point, we’ve done a pretty great job (if I do say so myself) of juggling pick ups, drop offs, fast paced, demanding careers and splitting the overall responsibilities of effectively co-parenting together while making sure we are both actively present for our daughter.
It wasn’t until us and the rest of the world were faced with the new reality of managing the responsibility of kids (in our case a VERY ACTIVE TODDLER) and our professional careers that we had to sit down and brainstorm how we were going to pull this off without dropping the ball in either area or putting one person’s career and job responsibilities over another.
Although it’s not a perfect scenario and is a work in progress, we were able to figure out a way to still be effective. It’s important to manage this new situation like you would at work. Chat with your co-worker (aka spouse), communicate your needs, be open to suggestions and feedback and most importantly be a team player.
Below are some key steps to take with your spouse to manage our new hybrid roles and be successful at it:
Each morning before we start our day, we sit down over coffee and discuss what each of us has on the books for the day.
This allows us to plan and be prepared to help each other when one of us has a conference call, to be on the phone with clients or have time sensitive deadlines.
Set a Schedule
Once you know what you need to prepare for on that day, set a schedule. We tend to do a two hours off, two hours on scenario. This allows one of us to run point on baby duties while the other person can have uninterrupted and focused work time. I will say this makes you more efficient and affective as an employee because you try to get as much done as possible in your off kid duty time.
Although you might have a game plan with your spouse on how you plan on dividing responsibilities, more often than not last minute things pop up and get thrown into your schedules. Just like at work, you have to be flexible and roll with the punches. By having a mentality of being able to pivot when needed, this allows you and your partner to feel like you have each other’s back.
Also remember there are times that your child just wants mommy or just wants daddy. Never forget your child comes first. Work can wait 15 minutes.
Check in with your spouse throughout the day to confirm that everything is going okay. I know it seems obvious, but this is a stressful time and sometimes we forget to do the most basic things. Some people don’t want to share when we feel overwhelmed or stressed out due to work or doing two full-time jobs at once. This goes a long way with your spouse because they will feel supported and more importantly loved.
Over dinner or once you both stop working, make sure to discuss your day. My husband and I tend to do this over dinner. Although you might both be home, you both are focused on different things besides your child. Don’t forget to talk and share what your day was like. This will help you both not internalize the new stress we are all under but also help you both brainstorm solutions on how to modify things to help get into a more solid groove.
Never forget you both are on the same team. It’s going to take both of you to manage the kids effectively. All of the responsibilities cannot fall on the default parent. Work together and you will be able to survive this. Never forget, “One Team, One Dream!”
Appreciation and Empathy
Never forget to be thankful for the help you are getting from your spouse. Both of you are stressed and overwhelmed. Have empathy that you both are going through it. Don’t forget to say thank you and show appreciation to each other for being rockstars right now. Every day won’t be easy, trust me we’ve had some really mentally tough ones as of late with work. Be there for each other and remember you are each other’s rock. Support each other, be a shoulder to cry on if necessary, and most importantly celebrate the small wins together. We will get to the other side of this but we all have to lift each other up.
Try to Enjoy This Time!
I have been able to see moments with my daughter I would have normally missed while being at work. My husband and I built our daughters tricycle over the weekend. Secretly or not so secretly it was done selfishly to distract her while we were trying to get work done. She plays with it in our living room while we both work.
I got to see her actually figure out how to ride the bike on her own for the very first time. I was able to enjoy her little laugh when she rang the bell for the first time too. I got to see firsthand such small moments that would have normally been missed or seen via video from her grandparents who normally watch her while we work.
We get to enjoy hugs and snuggles throughout the day and see her eyes light up when we switch “shifts” with each other. She is excited to have us both around which make us excited to be here. We truly feel lucky to be present. She is only this age for a short amount of time so we are trying to make sure to soak in these moments while we have the opportunity to do so.