Most of us are in week six of hunkering down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. How is it going for you? My days have become a blur of cleaning house, doing laundry, cooking, homeschooling, refereeing sibling squabbles, and periodically drinking shots of tequila to help take the edge off. There are so many things I miss about regular life, especially getting a babysitter and going out with Drew, away from our kids and our house and the monotony of the daily grind. I feel lucky though – first and foremost that my family is safe and that we can stay home, the financial hit we’ve taken has, thus far, been manageable, and also because all this togetherness and the stress of the situation hasn’t seemed to have negatively affected my marriage (… yet??). I mean, don’t get me wrong – it’s not like we’re walking around in a fog of marital bliss. I would not say this is not a situation in which we’re thriving. But we’re doing fine, all things considering. Here are a few things that have helped us stay ok, beyond sheer luck and privilege:
1. Having a clear division of labor
I do most of the cooking and cleaning and am a pinch hitter at homeschool while Drew is more of the head teacher and pinch hits on housework when I need it. We kind of fell into these roles because they’re what we are naturally best at in our home, but then we followed-up with a few conversations to make sure we were both ok with this division of labor and we are for now.
2. Have a routine
Homeschool hours in our house are 9:30-12, Monday – Friday (we’ve found anything more than that and the wheels fall off). Of course, we also have solo work hours (early morning and/or early afternoon), lunchtime, afternoon play time, dinnertime, family movie/TV time, and get-kids-ready-for-bed time. It’s all very exciting.
3. Creating “me-time”
Honestly, I think of this more like “hiding from everyone” but calling it “me-time” works too. Basically, at least once or twice a day, both Drew and I will find a spot in the home to just be alone and try to decompress a bit. We have a tiny balcony, for example, that overlooks a bunch of Brooklyn backyards and there’s a spot just big enough for the folding chair that I got Drew for Father’s Day last year. The spot is totally hidden from inside making it a perfect spot to “get away from it all” for like 15 minutes. I like to pop in my ear buds and dance on the deck. Also: many baths.
4. Having pseudo “dates”
Sometimes I ask Jackson to “babysit” his sister – for a small payment, which he finds thrilling – while Drew and I either hang out alone on the deck or watch a movie in our bedroom with the door closed. Jackson and Joanie might play games together or watch TV. It’s all super simple but helps break up the day a little bit and gives Drew and me some time together beyond the exhausted hour or two we have after the kids go to bed and before we pass out.
5. Keeping in touch with friends and family
It’s definitely not the same thing as meeting up in person, but a zoom call with friends can go a long way in boosting spirits and, like a double date or going to a party with your partner, when you have a group call that includes your significant other, it helps to appreciate him or her in a different light.
6. The aforementioned tequila shots
What about you? How is the current situation affecting your relationships? Are you quarantined with your significant other and, if so, what have you found to help keep things going smoothly? What are some of the challenges you’re dealing with? If you don’t live with your partner or, for whatever reason, are not quarantined together, how do you navigate that? If you were in a new-ish relationship when quarantine began, how did you decide whether or not to stay together?