Lessons Learned From Having a Work From Home Spouse

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When my husband and I were first married more than a decade ago, we lived near Los Angeles. He was in school full-time and I worked from home.

Our home was an apartment not much larger than a postage stamp. We quickly learned we needed to figure out how to share our home with our workspaces and how to co-exist. For six years, he continued in academia and spent the bulk of his time working from home.

Fast forward to today: academia is behind us but the work from home days are still upon us. COVID-19 is not responsible for moving my husband’s office into our bedroom. That blame is attributed to a job change over a year ago. That’s when he accepted a position that is entirely remote. For awhile we had a guest room/office for him to work from. But as our family continued to expand, we had to move his office into our bedroom.

In one sense, I’m thankful he was already working from home when COVID-19 hit. That was one less transition for us to make and adjust to. It also means that the pain you’re feeling, after sharing your home with your working spouse for a month or so, is pain that I felt with and dealt with over a year ago. A friend told me last week her husband took a day off of work “to give us all a break from arguing about when the children can scream.” Can I get an amen?

Those early weeks of my husband’s new remote gig were tough. And I mean tough. I was so stressed at keeping our three children quiet all day (did I mention we homeschool, too?) that I was not a nice person. Can you relate? But now we’ve settled into a rhythm and it is much easier than it was initially.

I’m here to say: it’ll get better.

Communicate

Some days, my husband seems to go from meeting to meeting, with no breaks. Before his day begins, I ask my husband to text me his meeting schedule, along with notes like “I’ll need to talk a lot in this one,” or “I’ll be muted the entire time.” This means I can arrange our day appropriately. If there’s a 30 minute meeting that he’ll be very communicative in, I plan to take the kids outside or turn on Disney+.

Set Boundaries

My husband works from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. And between those hours, we try desperately not to interrupt him. I like to pretend he’s not home. If he was out of the house, would I ask him to intervene in every little scuffle with the kids? Nope. So I try not to involve him unless absolutely necessary. This also means we frequently lock the bedroom door to keep the kids from continually interrupting Daddy.

Take Advantage of the Good

It’s not all bad, having your spouse working from home. If your kids are unicorns and all nap at the same time, that’s a great time to run to the grocery store kid-free – if your husband’s work schedule allows – or go for a walk around your neighborhood. My husband says the best part of working from home is when he needs a break, he can grab a snack and a hug or read a book to our one-year-old.

How are you doing, handling your spouse working from home? What systems do you have in place to make it smooth for you, your spouse and your kids?

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