In normal circumstances we have created boundaries and systems which means as a couple, and as parents, we have established space and distance but how does this work when we are always at home?
Boundaries, space and distance… sounds super romantic!
But it was just a normal part of everyday life – we went to work, we had hobbies, we saw friends… now this very easy way of having our own time has been taken away from us and so we are having to actively create space, which has been harder than I thought.
It is also a slightly awkward topic to write/talk about… surely we want to spend every waking minute with the one you love?!
No one, even the most sociable of people, are suppose to be confined in a small space with the same people 24/7, even the family you have chosen.
So now we need to re-establish what is normal and how to still create that healthy space.
This is completely unprecedented (as we hear a lot) and it is okay to feel like you are struggling, which I’ve found hard to admit!
I have seen things online which say “divorce rates will definitely go up as a result of lockdown” and others which say “why is everyone moaning about staying home with your spouse? I actually like mine”…
Well, neither is helpful! Is it?!
Just because a couple is struggling to find a new happy medium doesn’t mean they are no longer compatible or happy.
Nor does it mean that just because you are in love you want to spend every waking minute with them, especially when there are added pressures.
Added pressures of trying to work from home every day with your children, which isn’t the ideal of how flexible working should be.
Added pressure of being furloughed which sounds great for a few weeks and then you begin to crave something to do.
You may have to contend with home schooling… motivating and encouraging your children to focus and concentrate when this isn’t the normal environment for it.
Sometimes you just need to breathe.
I know I do.
We really struggled with working from home, looking after our daughter, doing projects around the house but then trying to find some distance and breathing space when we’re not used to doing that.
Going to work, exercising, seeing our friends, that is our space, so how do you actively tell your spouse that you need space and I am going to spend some time alone without leaving the house?
It doesn’t sound so hard but if I’m not going for a walk, or going to have a bath.. I’ve found it quite difficult just to do it.
It is about communication and then it is about doing what is right for you.
For the first few weeks of lockdown I think we were enjoying the novelty of lots of time together as a family.
We both wanted to be with Isabelle because we will never get this time again!
But because of that lack of space, tensions began to run high, and we bickered like we’d never done before…
So we communicated, eventually… and have created new systems and routines which are now becoming ‘normal’ and it is healthy for us as a couple and as parents.
We have created a designated work space for me.
A place to go when I have deadlines or meetings, which means I am not attempting to work whilst being in the same room as my family, which adds to the stress.
I have work and my blog to focus on when I am not looking after my daughter. It gives me a focus and a purpose, something to do other than feel the weight of the fact that we are trying to parent within the same walls, every day.
Those who are furloughed, or who are unable to work right now, don’t have that same focus.
It may have been glorious for a few relaxing weeks off at home with the kids, but reality is setting back in now and if you are anything like my fiancé, you need a project, you need to be doing something.
I would be completely happy to binge watch TV and drink coffee all day long and that is where we are SO different!
So we’ve started a home improvement project and that means when we have the time; when I don’t have to work (weekends mainly), Ryan is upstairs, on his own, doing his own project and we are creating healthy space.
Presently, Isabelle is napping, I am writing this article in the living room with a cup of coffee and Ryan has been painting for well over 3 hours today and probably will be up there for a few hours more.
By the time dinner comes I probably won’t have seen him for most of the weekend and …
I HAVE MISSED HIM!
We are both getting stuff done… I am writing and spending quality time with Isabelle, which I still miss out on a bit during the week… and he has a focus.
It took us well over a month to work out what we needed to do as a family and as a couple to redefine what our roles would look like over the next few months.
I have to work but I try to be a flexible as possible to help Ryan with childcare and also give him and myself the opportunity to exercise… together or alone.
This isn’t an article about how to get away from each other.
This is about how to redefine your boundaries within your couple to suit the lockdown situation.
It is okay if how you were as a couple before lockdown doesn’t feel like it fits now. That does not mean that you no longer fit as a couple!
Communicate with each other about how you are feeling and take time out for yourself to create that healthy space as a couple because it will do wonders for your sanity, and your parenting!
It is also important to say that if you are not struggling, don’t assume that your relationship is any stronger than those who are.
You may just be individuals who are better suited to the change in lifestyle, because living with someone who isn’t as good at adapting, can also put a huge strain on a relationship.
So if you are loving lockdown, working full time, struggling and need a project or just need some breathing space; you do you.
You do what you need to do for your sanity. It is not selfish! It will inevitably benefit your family in the end.