Over the years, I’ve shared 15 Things Couples Should Do Before Moving in Together, 17 things every couple must discuss before they get married, and 20 Things Everyone Should Do Before Having Kids. Today I have a new list for a new milestone many of us are experiencing – some for the first time ever: working from home with our significant others. As someone who has worked from home for 12 years, the past two of which have been with my husband working from home part-time too, I feel pretty qualified to give some tips. And so, below, eight great tips for working from home with your partner or spouse during a pandemic:
1. Establish a schedule.
For example, I’ve found it helpful to designate a time – say every hour on the hour that *I* have a panic attack, and every hour on the half-hour my husband gets to have a panic attack. That way there are no surprises and we always have something to look forward to! And, theoretically, one of us will always be stable enough to pull the other out of a pit of despair if things get particularly hairy, or to answer the door when an Amazon delivery of Lysol wipes arrives.
2. Respect boundaries and personal space.
One person can take the bedroom and one person can take the kitchen where she can eat entire sleeves of Ritz crackers and squeeze half a container of Easy Cheese into her mouth while standing over the sink, staring at the wall.
3. Put some effort into your appearance.
This is not the time to let yourself go! Your partner has to look at you all day every day and you want to retain some semblance of care in your appearance. So change into daytime PJs when you wake up and comb all the hair that hasn’t seen a professional waxer in weeks.
4. Carve out some quality “Us” time.
Here’s a fun idea: put on the Billie Holiday Pandora station, spread a picnic blanket on your living room floor, and fill small plates with slices of cheese and a rationed handful of raspberries you bought yesterday morning at the grocery store where you saw a very sweaty older gentleman with a walker profusely wiping his forehead with a handkerchief while you prayed he didn’t sneeze on your cart as you walked by. Romantic AND delicious!
5. Have “double dates.”
It’s always helpful to see your partner through someone else’s eyes and remember all the things you love about him or her. So, call up another couple on one of the many video apps available (we like House Party!) and have a happy hour together at the end of your work day. A fun drinking game you might enjoy: drink every time someone mentions a new symptom he or she has or a person they know who is in the hospital. Good times!
6. Split up the household chores.
Whether you’re used to having a housecleaner who won’t be working for a while, or you’re cooking more, or you’re simply making more mess because you’re home 24 hours a day, your household responsibilities have probably increased a lot in the past few days. To avoid confusion and confrontation, take a few minutes to divide the chores fairly so everyone understands expectations. In our house, my husband is in charge of banging his head against the wall and I handle filling the bathtub with tears on the daily.
7. Role play together.
Once or twice a day, we play the role of parents who pretend to care that our children are watching too much TV. It honestly helps keep the spark alive!
8. Don’t forget to get intimate!
Here’s a hot tip: When coming home from a grocery run, strip out of your dirty clothes at the front door, sprint to the bathroom naked while yelling “I’m home!”, wait for your partner to join you in the shower, and then spend some time scrubbing potential corona germs off each other (don’t forget under the nails). Talk about sexy foreplay!