My husband has worked from home for over 5 years now. The novelty has worn off and we’ve established our patterns.
We’ve been married for over 17 years and get along quite well. We are, for the most part, on the same wavelength, and understand each other’s mindset, manner, and methods. We can (and do) tease each other, and we naturally pull together to accomplish desired ends (both being IxTJ personalities helps).
So working from home was a smooth transition for our family, and one my husband was eager to make. He loves his commute, staying in his own space, and eating all three meals at home.
Every work-at-home family will need an arrangement and understanding that is an appropriate expression of the couple’s relationship and personalities. Plus, the actual job involved and its requirements also play a factor. My husband has flexibility in his hours, but still must be around to interact and work with his team – it’s rarely solo work. That means he also needs quiet not only to think, but to be able to converse with his coworkers. Did I mention we have 5 kids, all of whom have piano practice time?
Over the years, I think there are 3 things I’ve learned that make it possible for my husband to work from home while we also homeschool.
So here are my logistical and attitudinal tips for managing a home when everyone – including Dad – is home, all day long, with different agendas to accomplish.
Tip #1 – When your husband works from home, dedicate space and time for him.
My husband works as a software programmer, so he has a thinky job and also one that requires him to be teamed up virtually with coworkers off and on throughout the day. At the same time, not only do we have five kids, but four of them are serious piano players. The piano is going hours each day.
So when we were thinking about where his home office might be when he took his first remote job, it was clear: the basement bedroom that has two doors to shut between the main level noise and his space.
The home office is not off the main living area where motion, noise, and clamor are nearby. He’s tucked away out of the traffic flow, in his own little basement hole. It has a full window; it isn’t really a hole. However, it is cut off from the rest of the house, which makes it easy for our normal daily doing to not be disruptive – usually.
He also works typical hours because that works for him and for the company he’s with. So even though he’s at home, and he pops up to refill his water bottle or grab a cup of coffee, we all count him “at work,” and leave him alone (the kids definitely do; I am the one who has to remember not to be interrupty just because I want to vent or escape).
Tip #2 – When your husband works from home, don’t be territorial.
The hardest transition to make with a work-from-home husband is an unexpected territorial reaction. We’re used to having the home as our domain all day, without interference.
When we can do our thing all day, then tidy up just before our husband gets home, it gives us a deadline to pull things together – and maybe permission to let things slide more than necessary in between.
With no such deadline, it’s hard to have the same sense of “end of day,” or the relief of “reinforcements have arrived” as your husband walks in. It’s a new dynamic to figure out and work through.
Now my husband sees not only the end of the day (and, honestly, often either the house or myself or both were a mess anyway), but also all the in between. There is no polish to put on – just like getting married means our husband sees us without makeup more often than with, working from home means he’s party to the whole crazy reality of homeschooling life.
That being the case, he might have input. After all, this is not only his home, too, but now his workplace as well. It’s not like he has no right to “interfere.” Seeing the actual situations when he comes up, he might have different opinions about what to do for school or schedule than when all he knew was what he was told.
When our husbands work from home, it’s the next level-up challenge to pull together as a team and not be defensive, territorial, or offended when sharing life in an even more intense and constant way. Embrace it. Grow with it; don’t fight it.
Tip #3 – When your husband works from home, embrace sanctification.
This goes hand-in-hand with the above.
Rachel Jankovic uses the analogy of our family life being a rock tumbler. The more children, the more little rocks bumping around in there. Add Dad into the mix and the rock tumbler speed intensifies – not because it’s harder, but because suddenly there’s another perspective to be had – it’s actually a good thing.
I might be losing my cool during a math lesson, hypothetically of course, and my husband walks up the stairs with his empty coffee cup. “Problem?” he asks.
Well, actually, no, there shouldn’t be.
Particularly in homeschooling sons, having Dad at hand for reinforcements has been invaluable. Merely saying, “Well, if you want to argue about it, you can do so with Dad at lunch,” is often enough to elicit a resigned sigh and resumed work.
What I wasn’t expecting was that the same was true for myself.
As my husband saw more of our middle-of-the-day-muddle, I realized when he was away all day he only got my version, my story. I could – and did – clothe my complaints and frustrations in reasonable-sounding justification via chat. Now that he is home, he sees and concludes for himself. I have to give up the control – and the pride – of being the only diagnostic perspective.
Now I have extra motivation to keep up my self-control, not yell at the kids, and not lounge in my room with a novel or my phone during school hours. I, too, sigh and resume my work instead of losing my cool. There is more accountability now for everyone, and that has been a good thing.