How often do we hear people say they wish they had more time with their family? Whether that be children, spouse or whoever, it is a common sentiment among many people. Now that many of us have it, how do we deal with it?
It is one I can attest to wanting for myself. When I was working my last job, I knew I didn’t want to work until 7pm four days each week, especially once my first child was born. Thus I had my schedule shifted around allowing me to shift hours around thus getting off earlier twice per week. I was fortunate. It all stemmed from the idea of wanting more time with my family.
I wrote a column a few months back discussing marriage being a decision you have to make every single day (click here to read). I discussed the physiological factors of marriage being completely unnatural to the human condition because of our lust for things or people we can’t have.
In and of itself, marriage is already a working relationship. Now, we are stuck in quarantine with the people we love hard. We already agreed to spend our lives with our significant others. Most spend roughly half, maybe a little less than our waking hours with our SOs.
I have joked with my friends on more than once occasion that I am slowly turning into Jack Torrance since having my routine changed.
Of course, totally joking. There has been a learning curve for lack of a better term. Routines have been shifted around a little bit.
I began working from home about a year ago. I became used to the routine of waking up at 7 in the morning, getting little dude ready for the day by getting him dressed, getting him fed and dropping him off at daycare. I would then hit the gym and get back home for 9:30 to begin working. I would either eat lunch at home and watch an episode or two of The Office while eating or grab a bite with a friend before jumping back into work. Once I finished what I needed to do each day, I would begin writing a blog or recording a video with intention of finishing before my wife made it home with our dude.
I became accustomed to that lifestyle. No distractions. Just me, myself and I which made for a productive, stress-free, relaxing work environment.
Shortly after Covid19 started getting serious in Louisiana, my wife began working from home and we began keeping little dude home with us.
Due to the nature of my job, my work has slowed, but my wife’s job hasn’t. Quite the opposite actually. To be honest, the first week was tough. My wife is working and she is also eight months pregnant. I felt like every five minutes she was asking me to get something or take care of something. Because of her job, she has to lock herself in the room when she is on calls for work. The wrench in my routine came tenfold.
Now my work environment turned into a nuthouse with a toddler running around. I still try to be productive during the working hours staying as busy as I can despite my business being slow at the moment. It was an adjustment though.
I would be lying if I told you the first week wasn’t rough. I have gotten used to them being home with me. Of course, I have my good and bad days. Overall, they are good for the most part. It is definitely an adjustment. Just like anything in marriage, it is a lot of give and take.
I have always been a late sleeper due to my night owl habits. With her being home, I get a little extra time in the am to sleep in while she gets her day started and takes care of little dude so I will take solace in that. She gets me up if she needs to make calls. I will then begin my day and hang with my buddy while working.
After that first week of getting adjusted, I have enjoyed having them home all the time. My wife has enjoyed being home since day one. We are doing our best to cling on to all this time with each other.
Being dad and husband is of course a 24/7 job that you answer the call for no matter what, at least I do. Before working in the same space together, we pressed pause on those jobs during work hours so to speak. Now there is no pause.
At least now, if I get stressed or distracted, I can sit and watch my boy play or play with him. Just yesterday, I took a few minutes to toss the football with him in the house. It’s fun having a pretty awesome playmate when I want that break.
The toughest part in all of this is being together 24/7. Some days, it can be hectic and my temper flares. I never really exploded because though because this is an adjustment for all of us. I do my best to keep that in mind.
My son doesn’t fully understand the grasp of why he can’t go to daycare or do all the things we normally do. As far as he is concerned, there is a nasty virus going around. When we told him that a few weeks ago, he took that to mean diarrhea is going around. Sure buddy. You believe that.
Now he will say “can’t go to Target. Diarrhea going round.”
The reality is he is a toddler stuck in a house or confines of our yard. He wants to run and play and be in different surroundings, interact with other kids and people and get back to normal. We all do.
There are days where he runs around and asks the same question like a broken record. That can be frustrating if you’re working on something. Of course you can’t get too emotional because he then becomes emotional. I don’t believe in suppressing emotions, but I do believe in rationally expressing emotions. Toddlers can’t do that. It is our job as parents to guide them on that and teach them.
He’s learning to figure this situation out just like we are.
I have already explained my transition and my wife’s transition. The good news is we adjusted and both understand the gravity of each other’s situation. If either of us need to take a call, we do so freely. I appreciate that about us.
I had a conversation with someone recently who actually asked me to write this. He had told me he had to set some ground rules because of the adjustment. Every situation is different and that is ok. Some have serious demands to meet. Some don’t have the luxury of being self employed. Hell, some don’t have the luxury of being employed at all. There are an infinite number of situations because of all this.
It is important to set those boundaries. That is what marriage is about, open communication. You can’t expect people to understand what you want if you don’t communicate.
As morbid as this sounds, there are probably many couples who will be in close quarters together who don’t necessarily like one another. Some may have admitted that, some may have not or some just don’t know it yet.
I was interested in this topic when my buddy brought it up. I started searching for articles regarding divorces since people have began to hunker down. Not so surprisingly, there are more than enough lawyers sharing stories about calls they are receiving of married couples wanting to split. Of course, there are stories regarding the rise of domestic violence during this time as well.
Both of which are incredibly unfortunate. Now, we are talking about more broken families, which is already an epidemic in the United States from divorced families to abusive families to drug ridden families. The list goes on.
Ironically enough as I mention that, divorce rates have dropped steadily since the 1990s. The biggest factor for that, millennials not getting married.
I have no proof to say this, but part of me believes it stems from the gravitas of an understanding that one partner is a MASSIVE commitment and physiologically against our nature as humans.
The older couples get, the more likely it is to end in divorce. The lifelong probability of divorce is between 40-50%. Maybe we are figuring this out more than generations past. Maybe we are not. I don’t really know. It is just interesting stats.
If you’re living in close quarters with your significant other and potentially children, it can be testy. Some dynamics and relationships more so than others.
Fortunately, I have it pretty damn good with my support system. My advice is check on your friends and make sure they are good. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are not good. We all go through shit sometimes. Right now, we are dealing with uncertainty, stress, emotions and everything in between.
For many of us who are working from home or staying at home, we are not getting that time away we normally get. We all feel trapped and confined meanwhile our condition has been to be free and move about.