From our experience, working from home with your spouse can be challenging. And in recent times, many couples are being forced to be in much closer proximity than ever before and for longer periods of time.
Add on the stress of the unknown and you’ve got a wild card.
To be honest, this extra time together can either result in bringing you closer as a couple, or magnify the little issues until they seem gargantuan. Heck, it can even ruin your marriage if these stresses are not dealt with accordingly.
But don’t worry.
Because in this article we will show you how to work from home with your spouse, peacefully. Plus practical ways to help you deal with feelings of frustration and overwhelm.
How to work from home with your spouse
Whether you are self-employed, have kids, both or just one of you works from home, these actionable tips can help.
1. Create a schedule that works for both of you, your employers, and your kids.
At what time will your workday begin, and when will it be over? When will you take breaks?
Make sure you create this schedule with your spouse and then communicate it to your co-workers, employees, or employers.
Could you create a schedule whereby even though you both work 8 hour days, your start and end times are not the same? E.g. Spouse A works from say 7 am to 3 pm and Spouse B works from 10 am to 6 pm.
In our experience, having younger kids especially toddlers can make it working from home very challenging.
So if you have kids, what will they be doing while you both work from home? Will they be in the same room with you or not?
Do you have to find someone to take care of your kids or something that will keep them entertained or busy while you work?
Keep this in mind:
As time goes on, you might have to adjust your schedule(s) as needed to meet any new demands or unexpected changes.
2. Set up an inspiring office space or area dedicated to working.
When you have a welcoming and organized place that’s set up for you to work, it makes it easier to focus on your tasks while you are there.
On the other hand, it makes it easier to compartmentalize and stop thinking about work once you are out of it too.
If you have to, set workspace boundaries to help eliminate unnecessary arguments. For example, spouse A prefers a clean and organized desk at all times, while spouse B is okay with having their desk a little disorganized.
Keep separate spaces or find other ways to accommodate each other’s needs.
In addition, try out which dress style gives you the best performance. For some people, it will be working in their pajamas, while others will prefer casual, formal, or a mix of both.
Setting up an office space where we can both work has helped us to work from our home efficiently. Our desks look very different, but each is set up to meet our individual needs to help us work the most efficiently.
Do similar activities for your work in batches. Or dedicate certain days to specific tasks and events.Productivity Tip: Do similar activities for your work in batches. Or dedicate certain days to specific tasks and events.Click To Tweet
3. Plan for how you will deal with interruptions.
During work, there are times when you will have to stop everything to deal with an emergency or other distractions. Maybe Sally starts screaming because her brother had the audacity to play on the iPad she set down for three seconds. It happens.
Share responsibility by taking turns on who cares for these types of interruptions or emergencies if something comes up during work hours.
As a couple who works from home, you are bound to face many distractions so purposely set up your workspace with as little distractions as possible.
Come up with a creative way to get each other’s attention or not be disturbed while you are both working.
For example, if you don’t want to be distracted when you in the middle of something important, you can put your noise-canceling or music headphones on.
We take turns working and tag-teaming who looks after the kids.
This works for us, and we usually save things we have to work on together until they are asleep, or carve out an hour or so while they are busy watching a movie or playing a game.
4. Utilize apps, software, tools, and resources to stay focused and productive.
Check out the ones below:
Freedom – Great for blocking distracting websites and apps.
Rescue Time – Excellent for time management. It tracks how you spend time on your device(s) so you know the unproductive things you need to stop doing.
FocusMe – Helps you to effectively block access to websites, social media, and apps that are unrelated to your work.
Additional things you can use to make your work easier are comfortable chairs, a great standing desk, good lighting, dual monitors, all-in-one printer, durable laptop stands, USB adaptors, noise-canceling headphones, a webcam, microphone, floor mat, etc.
Below is our work setup:
Computer: 13” Macbook Pro (Early 2015 model)
Second monitor: HP Pavilion 22cwa 21.5-Inch
Standing desk: Fully Standing Desk
Keyboard: Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
Chair: Bought from a used furniture store.
Headphone: Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
Microphone: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
Mouse: Logitech M525 Wireless Mouse
Printer: Brother HL2240D Laser Printer
No matter what your budget is, investing in the tools you need to work efficiently from home will yield a positive ROI.No matter what your budget is, investing in the tools you need to work efficiently from home will yield a positive ROI.Click To Tweet
5. Set expectations and boundaries with your friends and family.
Because we work from home, some of our friends and relatives assume we have an unlimited amount of free time to do everything under the sun.
They expect us to be able to go places or do things for them with very short notice. But that’s not the case because we also have deadlines for our projects and schedules for other activities.
If your friends and relatives are calling or texting you all the time to drop whatever you are doing and attend to their wants, you might want to put your phone away while you work.
Utilize the do not disturb settings on your phone for office hours.
In addition, let them know what your work from home hours are and that without working, you can’t pay your bills.
6. Don’t forget your pets.
If you have pets, how will you take care of them while you both work?
Devise a plan that works for both of your schedules so your pets are cared for.
7. Have a shared calendar.
This one might seem obvious, but if you and your spouse don’t have one, now is the perfect time to do it.
By having a shared calendar, you can easily coordinate the important things you have to do for work (like conference calls/meetings) and your home (grocery shopping).
Even better, plan your next day activities together the night before by choosing 3 things you each want to do for work the next day. You can add an extra one or two things for home too.
For us, going over our schedule and “to do” lists together each morning helps us to have the correct expectations for the day.
This way Ash knows Marcus has a coaching meeting in the evening so she can plan an activity to keep our children entertained at that time. Likewise, Marcus knows Ash might be writing until after lunch, so he’s on meal prep duty.Plan your next day activities together the night before by choosing 3 things you each want to do for work the next day.Click To Tweet
8. Create rituals and routines to start and end your workdays.
In our experience, having before and/or after work rituals is one of the easiest ways to grow together as a couple.
For example, you can exercise together (or separately) before you start working. Then go for walks after your workday ends.
Another example is to make your morning coffee, tea, or breakfast together before your workday starts. Share your meals together during break time, or use that time to get a break from each other.
You can just sit on the couch and relax for 30 minutes, take a shower, or play with your pets to unwind after work.
If you need alone time at the end of the day, make sure you let your spouse know in advance, so you can relax and bring your best version of yourself to your family.
“Babe, I need some time to myself to unwind and reset. I’ll be back to help/spend time with you in X amount of time.”
Be specific because saying something like “I need some space” can be triggering for some people.
Explain WHY you need whatever it is, rather than just WHAT you need. Giving your spouse that amount of time helps them know what to expect and enhances your communication skills.
Also, be sure to return the favor. If your hubby or wifey needs some time to themself, figure out how each of you can get your needs for solitude met, while the kids are taken care of.
Hydrate by drinking the right amount of water your body needs throughout the day.
Because it will help your body to function properly, keep you healthy, and boost your productivity levels. (If you don’t know the amount your body needs, contact your doctor or physician.)
9. Take breaks.
From our experience, it’s so vital for you and your spouse to take breaks during your work time. And during your breaks make sure you have a chat with your spouse to see how they are doing.
In other words, take full advantage of break times to check-in, connect with each other, or take turns spending time with your kids.
Add laughter by sharing memes or watching funny videos together. Simply because it will help you two get some rest and refresh yourselves before resuming to work.
You can even practice meditation, deep breathing, and going for short walks during your breaks. These activities will enable you to stay focused, deal with mental fatigue and being overly exhausted at the end of the day.
(Quiz: How strong is your marriage?)
10. Share responsibilities around the house.
If you both work full-time from home, share your chores equally so one person doesn’t feel they are the one doing all the work to maintain your home.
It’s definitely not fun to do all or most of the chores at home (on top of your full-time job), while your spouse does little/nothing to help.
So take turns doing the laundry, cleaning dishes, cooking, and putting your kids to bed. You can also meal prep for the week to save time and money.
For us, Ash does most of the cooking, Marcus cleans the dishes, and then we take turns with the laundry. There are also other chores that we have assigned specifically to each other based on preferences and skillsets. The others we take turns doing.If you both work full-time from home, share your chores equally so one person doesn't feel they are the one doing all the work to maintain your home.Click To Tweet
11. Create meaningful activities to communicate and bond after work.
After a long day at work, carve out at least 30 minutes to talk with your spouse about things that are not related to work, errands, or your kids.
If you want to have engaging conversations and don’t know where to start, use these thought-provoking questions for couples.
You could also fill-in an activity book for couples, watch a show, snuggle, read a book together, complete a puzzle, or play a fun game for couples.
12. Schedule quality time with your kids.
After working, you most likely will be tired and need some time to unwind. However, you still have to engage your kids in some kind of activity.
That’s why we recommend relaxing right after work, so you can spend time to build your relationship with your children.
It could be as simple as just talking about their day, goals, or playing a game as a family.
13. Get sleep.
The truth is, some workdays will be more challenging and stressful than others. All your plans might have to be tossed into the bin because of something out of your control.
However, you can minimize the impact of those stressful days by making sure your body has enough sleep and is well-rested each night.
Staying flexible with your schedule will be handy.
Ideas for when you are the stay at home spouse
On the other hand, for some couples, one is the breadwinner while the other is a stay at home parent, goes to school full-time, or doesn’t work due to a number of reasons like job loss or health issues.
Below are actionable tips you can practice to make life easier for yourself and your spouse.
a. Change your mindset. Just because your spouse is working from home doesn’t mean they’re available.
b. Help keep the house quiet and calm for less noise so they can focus on work.
c. Give your spouse some downtime when they are done working for the day.
d. Have a schedule for the times when their home office is “closed” for interruptions.
e. During break times when your spouse can come out and check-in, have lunch ready so you can eat together.
You can also ask your spouse to give you a short break from the kids while they play with them.
Supporting your stay at home spouse after you’re done working
⇒ Give your husband or wife some alone time to relax while you spend time with the kids.
Because they’ve been with them for most of the day and might need a break to refresh themselves.
⇒ Take part in doing your chores for the home.
Sit down with your spouse and have a fair division of the household duties.
⇒ Spend quality time with your spouse.
Ask about their day. What were their challenges? What did they learn? Reconnect with your spouse.
But does it really work?
We both work from home on a regular basis (self-employed) and homeschool our two children. And because we are together 24/7, we get questions all the time:
“How do you not kill each other?”
“I could never do that.”
“Aren’t you sick of each other?”
But, we kinda have a knack for this thing called effective communication. That has been our saving grace throughout our marriage. We make sure to voice our needs and try to meet each other’s needs.
Furthermore, we remain flexible with our plans and create our schedule together. This schedule helps us to know who has a deadline for what so we can best support each other.
In fact, we follow everything we’ve recommended for you in this article. It can be done!Whether you are self-employed, have kids, or just one of you works from home, these actionable tips can help your marriage and career.Click To Tweet
Our daily work schedule looks a little like this:
As of writing this article, Marcus gets up with the kids every morning, feeds them breakfast, talks with them about plans for the day, and then go on the iPads while he does some work for this blog.
Ash gets up later and checks in with the girls, doing their morning routine while Marcus goes for a run. Then Ash gets to work in the office until noon or one o’clock (usually 3-4 hours) to write.
Marcus spends time with the kids; they play with Barbies, Legos, do crafts, paintings, go to the library, visit playgrounds, etc. He also helps them as needed with their educational activities and keeping the peace.
When Ash comes down, we check in with each other before switching places. Marcus gets to work in the afternoon or evening.
Sometimes we have to wait until after our kids are in bed to record videos or go over projects we are working on. After dinner, we take turns putting our kids to bed and giving each other “alone” time.
Not every day looks the same as we try to balance work with outside activities like educational trips, play dates, grocery shopping, visiting museums, etc.
On some days, our kids are sick or having a tough day so we’ll have to reschedule or make new plans for the day.
The important thing is that:
We keep our lines of communication open, remain flexible, and respect each other’s need for space.
Keep this in mind.
Being one of many couples working from home, we are so grateful to have this opportunity. However, we also know that working from home is not for everyone.
And that’s okay!
Because we are all unique individuals.
So if you and/or your spouse realize after a while that working from home is not the right fit, make the necessary changes when it’s okay to do so.Keep your lines of communication open, remain flexible and respect each other’s need for space.Click To Tweet
As you can see, working from home with your husband or wife isn’t easy.
But, with a good work structure in place, a lot of communication, planning, and realistic expectations, you can both get your jobs done, successfully!
More importantly, working from home together will provide you with the opportunity to thrive in your marriage and careers.
We hope this article helps you and your spouse to survive working together from the comfort of your home.
What’s your best advice for couples working from home?
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