In a previous post, I spoke about the importance of nurturing your relationships with your colleagues whilst working apart. But what about those that are most important to us? How do we focus on our loved ones whilst we navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19?

Even the best relationships come with ups and downs. Yet you may be finding that tension has been particularly high lately between you and your partner, families or housemates. Given the amount of time we are currently spending together however, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

For us all to be able to adjust to life during a pandemic, it’s important that we create some new routines and rituals for our homes. And we can’t forget those living alone, whose social outlets have shutdown, and therefore may be feeling particularly lonely and isolated right now.

In this post, I will cover some of the positive practices that we can undertake to; manage working from home with a family, maintain a healthy relationship with our partners, and stay connected whilst living alone.

Managing working from home with a family

For those with children, nothing will be more challenging than fulfilling the duties of your job whilst also tending to your children. Particularly those with school aged kids, who are now responsible for supervising their learning this term. There is no doubt that you will need to rethink your working hours and the load you have on. In order to try and manage, it’s a good idea to spend time at the start of each week, or before the workday starts, creating a schedule with your partner. Make sure you include any work meetings, mealtimes, and time that needs to be spent with children or family etc. Try and allocate chores and the preparation of meals between you. Remember younger children need more physical activity, and tweens and teens require more emotional support so build in times to make these connections happen. Try and come up with a rule with your kids to help them understand when you can’t be disturbed, if they are of an age when they can. Once you know your schedule, be sure to talk to your manager about this as well so they know what you have on, how you are tracking, and when you will be logged on or unavailable.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner

Given we are spending a lot more time with our partners these days, we need to create some healthy habits to alleviate any of the stress that may be felt. Firstly, it’s important for you both to have your alone time, which may be when you exercise, read or cook. Secondly, be present and ask your partner questions perhaps at the end of each day. Try not to assume you know how their day went because you were physically there. Find out what went well in their day, what their wins, learnings or challenges were. Thirdly, if you are fortunate to have enough space, try and work separately, and be respectful of each other’s working zones i.e. knock before you enter the room or give them space when on a virtual conference or phone call. Additionally, prioritise spending quality time together not just spending time around each other e.g. go for a walk, eat meals or watch a movie together. And finally, try and take advantage of a third space, which is a place you go after finishing your work, where you can reenergise for at least five minutes, so when you reconnect with your loved ones you are showing up with your best self.

Staying connected whilst living by yourself

Those who are currently living alone, may be feeling particularly distressed at the moment with a lack of contact with others. We are fortunate to have several great platforms that we can use to stay connected to those we don’t live with, including Zoom, Teams, Houseparty and Facetime etc. As much as possible, call your loved ones (rather than emailing and texting) and make sure you turn the cameras on. Seeing someone’s face and looking them in the eyes is so important for us to experience a genuine and real connection. What’s more, when you see someone laugh or smile, it’s reciprocal so you will feel good, and the release of oxytocin will help reduce any stress. Also ensure that you are getting outside as much as possible to see other people e.g. take a walk to your local park or visit a café. There are lots of people around that we can engage with even if it is just for brief smile or a ‘hello’.

The importance of self-care

The next few weeks and months are going to continue to test us. Therefore, we need be kind to ourselves as we navigate our current challenges and those to come. When stress heightens, it’s easy for us to forgo self-care. Yet it’s now more important than ever to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and our wellbeing first, which will help us care better for those we love most.