My husband has worked from home for over 7 years now and we’ve been homeschooling – educating nearly entirely at home, being home all day – for 12 years.
When your family is home-based like this – by choice or suddenly and out of necessity – everyone will need to offer one another grace and mercy and kindness. A single person’s selfish ambition can’t control the situation, whether that’s the father’s desire for quiet, the mother’s desire for everyone to get along, the teen’s thoughtlessness, or the toddler’s desire for destruction. It is paramount to communicate as a family unit and determine practices that allow everyone to accomplish his own work.
When you are homeschooling and working from home, these 3 strategies work:
- The breadwinner needs a dedicated, uninterrupted space to work and a good headset.
- The family needs to be aware of one another’s schedules and space (including sound space – as with instrument practice) constraints for the day.
- Treat the office space as an office and text before visiting; also allow breaks will be family visits and not alone time – enjoy them for what they are rather than wish them otherwise.
One of the hardest adjustments when moving to a shared space is actually adjusting to who is in charge of what, when. When we’re all used to having our own space and time and agenda under our control – whether that was the home being our sole jurisdiction or the office being our personal space – it will always take time and often cause relational strain to adapt and build the new dynamic.
Mothers, expect feedback on how the laundry is being handled. Expect questions about how you run your day. Expect to be caught red-faced, about to explode at a child.
Don’t feel threatened as if these are invasions of your domain or doubt in your responsibility.
Fathers, expect to need to use work breaks to parent. Expect some background noise. Expect it to take awhile to establish new focus cues in a new environment.
Don’t feel like these conditions make it impossible to get your work done.
We all need to expect an adjustment period as we learn the new normal, get used to living even more side-by-side, and share the full load and full space of family life.
Parenting & Life Together
When everyone is home all day, any parental policy disagreements or differing standards will become forefront, creating more tension and problems than before.
This is a blessing in disguise. Whereas before these disagreements might have been ignored, shuffled under the carpet, now they will need to be resolved if you’re going to live together in peace and harmony.
Living together in peace and harmony is the goal. Never forget that.
What is getting in the way of that right now? That’s what you need to deal with instead of ignore. Don’t argue over who is right and who is wrong and who needs to win. Jointly figure out your mutual, agreed upon standards and practices.
Have conversations about why you want the standards and practices you do instead of simply disagreeing. Can you find a “why” you can agree upon together? From a common base of agreement on the principles, the “how” then is easier to work out amicably.
While you may think that your marriage thrives when you each have your own space and division of labor, the reality is that the more you have to work side-by-side and figure out how to work together as one, the stronger your relationship will be.
Strength doesn’t come from lack of conflict, but from knowing how to resolve differences, how to respect each other, and how to love and serve the other.
Avoiding conflict that’s under the surface is like eating chocolate chips in the pantry: it’s easy, and it feels better than work, but it won’t get you anywhere. Working through life together is like lifting weights: hard, but worthwhile and productive.
All being home together is an opportunity for your marriage to deepen in love and understanding and mutual edification; it is not a threat.
Sin is always a threat to a marriage. Identify the threats correctly. Time and space don’t necessitate problems, but sin does, and sin will be present. Be ready to repent and ready to forgive and ready to consult and ready to submit.
Your marriage will then be the stronger for the time you were forced to work together more closely.
Dynamics of Working from Home
The more we are home, all in the same space, the more fruit of the Spirit is required of us. The more we interact, especially during times of day that we had counted as our own, the more we’re going to need grace – the kind of grace that overlooks grievances, that refuses to be irritated, that forgives wrongs.
The more we’re with each other, whether that’s husbands or kids or both, the more love we will need.
Don’t go looking for the warm fuzzies to get you through. Choose love proactively.
- Love is patient.
- Love is kind.
- Love does not envy.
- Love does not boast.
- Love is not arrogant.
- Love is not rude.
- Love does not insist on its own way.
- Love is not irritable.
- Love is not resentful.
- Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.
Whatever does not accord with this list from 1 Corinthians 13 is not love. The wonderful reality is that we don’t have to wait for love as a feeling to act with love and we don’t have to rely on sheer willpower and personal strength to put love like this into practice.
This is the love God has given to us; it is the love with which He loves us. He is patient and kind and not irritated. Not only does He love us in this way, He gives us His love to give to others. We can ask Him for His strength to love with real love, in truth.
Being all at home is a powerful opportunity. Our need for more inner resources, more love, will be obvious – to us and to those around us.
Seeing that need feels like a hardship, but it’s actually grace: Grace showing us our need so we can ask for the supply we already did need, but just didn’t realize until tested.
The more we’re all together all the time, the more opportunities we have to love, and also to repent when we don’t. As we grow in both, simultaneously, we will rejoice because God’s provision will supply our lack. And this cycle will be repeated, ongoing, because that’s sanctification – the point of God’s work in our lives.