With the pandemic, many people who used to work in an office or other communal working space are now working from their homes. This can present a host of problems: does the person live alone; is the person married and living with his or her spouse; does the spouse also work; do they have any children, especially young ones who demand a lot of attention; is the house, condo, or apartment big enough to accommodate two home offices, two desks, two computers, two printers, and double the usual office equipment and supplies?
And suppose a married couple have different working hours? For instance, the husband’s working hours begin at 6:00 a.m., while the wife doesn’t start until 9:00 a.m. Can the wife sleep in while the husband gets up three hours earlier? Worse yet, imagine that the husband works the night shift and the wife works the day shift. One would assume that the husband would be taking care of the children during the night and the wife would be checking on them during the day. But that would be a misconception. During the nighttime, the husband’s primary duty is to his employer. If the children need attending to, unless it’s an emergency, it is the wife’s primary duty to look after the children while her husband is working. Conversely, it is the husband’s primary duty to attend to the children while his wife is working.
Delegate Household Responsibilities
It is not easy to see how the household chores will be divided when both spouses are working. Who will be in charge of the meals, not only cooking them but doing the shopping, preparing the meals, and cleaning up afterwards? Who will be in charge of keeping the house neat and clean? Whose responsibility will it be to take the son to soccer practice or the daughter to gymnastics? Who will be in charge of doing the laundry? Or putting gas in the car?
If a married couple with children both work and because of COVID-19 can no longer work in the office but must work remotely in the home, they should sit down together and write down who will be responsible for what. That way if a conflict arises they can refer back to the written agreement and see what they had decided. Of course, not every situation that arises will be included in the agreement and it will then be up to the couple to calmly and rationally come to a decision as to whom should do it. If it is something that comes up repeatedly, then the couple can mutually agree to take turns doing the task.
Have Activities On Hand
Dividing up the household chores when both spouses are working, especially when there are young children involved, will test even the strongest marriage. Because of the pandemic order to stay home as much as possible, even the closest families are bound to get sick and tired of each other on occasion and have their squabbles. Before the pandemic, families could defuse any growing tension by going to the movies, going out to dinner or to get an ice cream cone, going for a walk in the park and use the playground, going for a drive to see the pretty lights, children could go to school, or a hundred different activities.
But with the pandemic restrictions, the choices are limited: the family can play board games like Monopoly, watch television, watch movies on Netflix, read books, play word games like Scrabble, and such. It doesn’t take much to see that staying home day after day after week after month can be, in a word, BORING! But the alternative is going out in public and risk catching COVID-19, even while taking precautions such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing of at least six feet, washing your hands frequently with sanitizer, and staying away from people who have symptoms of COVID-19.
So while staying at home and working at home has its challenges, the alternative – going out in public and risking catching COVID-19 – is simply too great to risk. Over 500,000 people in the United States alone have died from COVID-19 and while the number of cases and deaths seems to be going down, and vaccines have been developed to hopefully stop the spread of the disease, new strains of the disease are being found. The best thing we can do is to follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and wear masks, practice social distancing, wash our hands often with sanitizer, and continue to work at home regardless of how trying that may be.