There is no doubt that maintaining a healthy marriage while also having children has its challenges. The new routine of “parenting-in-place” can elevate tensions around the home, and make it more difficult to connect with your partner or spouse. Disrupted schedules, the burden of effective homeschooling, and having everyone at home all of the time is bound to create some tension.
Maintaining a healthy partnership whilst parenting during COVID-19 is a balancing act between giving enough energy to our children, our spouse and ourselves. Despite the amount of energy and effort that’s required as a parent, we cannot sacrifice ourselves or our partner.
Child & family counsellor, Gisella La-Madrid, offers 5 tips on how to maintain that balance more effectively:
1) Communicate well, and often:
Balancing our child’s needs, school routine, and home activity can be difficult to navigate. Especially if you and your partner also need to balance this with an at home work schedule. Make sure to communicate to your spouse when they need to step in to allow for some undisturbed work or alone time. Likewise, do your best to honour your partner’s needs when they ask for support.
Remember, parenting-in-place is a balancing act. Your spouse and kids may be experiencing a variety of emotions while they navigate COVID-19 individually. Take time to check-in with everyone to ensure everyone’s needs are getting met, including your own.
2) Create new routines as a family:
Make a plan with your partner to take turns attending to your children’s needs, prioritizing chores, and scheduling solo home office time. For school-aged children, create a routine that mimics school schedules with time for learning, playing, resting, and being active. If you have teenagers at home, co-create a schedule with their needs in mind. The more structure you can create within the home, the more stable and balanced things will feel.
3) Schedule alone time with your partner:
Never underestimate the benefits of a good date night. While it may be challenging to get some alone time with your partner, taking time to reconnect 1:1 will help negate any stress put on the relationship. The more quality time you have, the more positive your exchanges, and the higher your tolerance for tension will be. If you can’t find childcare, or feel comfortable with the idea of childcare at this time do your best to carve out time for intimacy. Any time spent being intimate with your partner is better than no time at all.
4) Engage in self-care:
While it is easy to get lost in taking care of both our children and our spouse’s needs, we cannot forget to carve out time for ourselves. This includes eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining good sleep hygiene. It also involves making room for negative feelings and finding effective ways to cope.
5) Recognize if additional support is needed:
While having strategies that support balancing your at-home life, sometimes that is simply not enough, and that’s okay. Navigating individual feelings around COVID-19 can be incredibly challenging, let alone also having to consistently hold space for your family’s needs. If you’re struggling to function or notice a significant change in mood, it’s okay to seek external support by reaching out to friends, family, community members, or a mental health professional.
For more tips on how to navigate your relationship during COVID-19 download my free couples support handbook.