10 tips for living and working with your significant other through a pandemic
The other day we were chatting, and as usual the conversation ended up on the pandemic. When all of this started, everyone we know transitioned to working from home, which for many threw them through a loop! Being at home basically 24/7 is a new experience for so many people, and especially when you have to share your space with your significant other who is also now home all day long!
As we were talking about how difficult this must have been, and still continues to be as many offices are deciding to not return to the office until the fall at the earliest, we realized we went through this same phase of figuring out how to make working from home, with your significant other, work and be successful! We have fifteen years experience with all of this, and wanted to share some of the things that have made us not want to pull each others hair out.
So here we have it, our ten tips for living and working with your significant other during a pandemic!
1. Get some exercise
We all know that exercise is linked to (insert medically proven fact no one is debating). It’s good for you and you know it. Be active everyday, even for just 15-20 minutes. Set goals you can achieve in 30 days and plan on how you’re going to expand from there. For example, say you like to run but you haven’t in years. Set a simple goal of running 5k 3 times a week for a month. After that, increase the distance or the speed in which you complete it. Exercise doesn’t have to be a “get fit” plan, or a “weight loss” goal, it can be a “stay healthy” plan.
“Be active everyday, even for just 15-20 minutes”
Personally, Cat decided she wanted to be able to do 3 chin ups by the end of January. She created an exercise plan that increases her strength in the areas she needs and adds to it each week to progress closer to her goal. On top of that Cat also runs once or twice a week in the forest and does 20 minutes of core and leg work each morning.
“Exercise doesn’t have to be a “get fit” plan, or a “weight loss” goal, it can be a “stay healthy” plan”
My exercise plan in comparison is very simple but still effective. Everyday I complete 800-1200 reps of absolutely anything I want. It’s usually a variation of sit ups, crunches, bicycle kicks, mountain climbers, chin-ups, pushups, squats etc. I started last spring with just 400 reps and increased slowly to where I am now. Honestly, if you do it everyday it’s a lot less daunting than taking 1-2 hours a few times a week. There’s less excuses and at the end of the day, doing something everyday is better for your health than a “full” workout every once in a while. Consistency is king!
2. Have a plan for meal times
We take turns being in charge of meals. We usually make enough for dinner that we get leftovers for lunch. Our future self always thanks us when we get hungry mid-day and all we have to do is microwave something. To figure out how much to make for dinner so there’s enough the next day, we usually look at the overall weight of the main part of the meal, usually the protein. If we’re making grilled chicken and veggies for dinner then we’ll need between 150-200grams of chicken per person. Meaning we’ll want at least 600-800grams of chicken. Just to be clear, we’re talking about the total weight of any food, not just the protein within that food.
“We usually make enough for dinner that we get leftovers for lunch. Our future self always thanks us when we get hungry mid-day and all we have to do is microwave something”
We also have a standing takeout night during the week. We do Sushi Mondays, our friends have Pizza Fridays, you get the idea. It’s a fun way to have something to look forward to and it helps us curb our reliance on food delivery services like Skip the Dishes or Uber Eats – knowing we’re getting takeout on Mondays helps us stay on top of cooking all the other days.
“We also have a standing takeout night during the week. We do Sushi Mondays”
3. Have personal space and times
Having personal space in an apartment can be difficult but we’ve made it work. Our storage room has become Cat’s craft room over the past few years. She spends a lot of time working on her art projects and side hustles like Watson Goods Co. and Our Little Side Hustle.
“Our storage room has become Cat’s craft room over the past few years”
Unfortunately we only have one spare room, so my personal space is usually the bathroom, lol. Just kidding! For me personal space and personal time are the same thing. So when Cat goes for a run and I have the place to myself, I take that as personal space. And in the same way, I can create that space for Cat by leaving the house. I’ll run errands on my own, grocery shop or just go for a walk. Any of these things create the space and time for Cat to have the apartment to herself. We never really understood how important this was to us and now that we do we’re a lot more intentional about giving each other space and time alone.
“my personal space is usually the bathroom”
4. Have more sex!
Well this just seems obvious. Apologies to those that find this a little misplaced or abrupt but it’s the honest truth. Sex is great and you might as well take advantage of all the time you have together by having more of it! That’s all I’m going to say on this.
“Sex is great!”
5. Plan date nights
We love a good date night, it’s totally different then just going out for dinner and it’s so much more fun. If we end up out for dinner because it’s 7:30pm and we’re still at Home Depot picking up reno supplies then NO, this is not a date night! Date Nights are planned ahead of time, restaurant chosen and resos made. The second we walk out the door, the office is closed, work is behind us and we enjoy our night out.
“The second we walk out the door, the office is closed”
Other differences include treating ourselves to menu items we would otherwise not get on account of saving money or being “responsible”. “Would you like to add Garlic Grilled Prawns to your Steak sir”? “Yes, yes I would” 🙂 And the other obvious difference is we usually take an Evo (or other car share service) to the restaurant and Uber/Lyft our way home. We both love cocktails so there’s no alternating DD here!
“We both love cocktails so there’s no alternating DD here!”
6. Set clear boundaries
Something we’re always working on and is always evolving is creating the right balance and boundaries around work and life. However after 15 years of working together we’ve concluded there really is no such thing as work/life balance. At least with our line of work, with weeks where we’re needed for 10 hours and others where we’re needed for 80 and it varies by season and even by year.
“[for us] there is no such thing as work/life balance”
We’ve embraced the work hard play hard mentality and although we know it’s not sustainable long term, it’s perfect for us right now so we’re sticking to it. If we had some advice to give, we’d suggest setting boundaries on when it’s okay to talk about work and when it’s not. We’ve got a rule that we can’t start talking about work related business until we’ve both had breakfast and coffee. Another boundary is no work related social media after a certain time in the evening. The latter was a huge mental health benefit to us both. Nothing like getting stressed out just before bed right?
“We’ve got a rule that we can’t start talking about work related business until we’ve both had breakfast and coffee”
7. Don’t forget to work on your relationship
Every once in a while we realize we’ve fallen into a rut of working all day and then turning off in the evenings and watching Netflix. Hands up if that sounds like you! My hand is raised too! For us this is typical of the summer when we both just need a mental break from work and the world. But the truth is, relationships are living things, they need to be nurtured and cared for. And I know that Bridgerton will not strengthen my relationship 😉
“relationships are living things, they need to be nurtured and cared for”
We found a few hobbies and games we both enjoy and we take the time to them in the evenings after work. Things like playing board games, cards, building lego and even playing Over Cooked on Playstation. **Just as a friendly public service announcement we don’t recommend playing Over Cooked unless you have really really strong communication and extreme patience. This game is notorious for breaking couples apart and I’m totally not kidding!**
“This game is notorious for breaking couples apart and I’m totally not kidding!”
8. Go to Home Depot!
Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but we love going to Home Depot or Ikea together. It’s like the original Pinterest! A Pinterest you can walk through, that’s full of ideas and possibilities to improve your home. And when you spend an average of 22 hours at home, making it special is so worth it.
“It’s like the original Pinterest!”
9. Have ongoing house improvement projects
Once we’ve been inspired, measurements made, budget set, we go to work on making those home improvements. No idea is too small or too large. Sometimes we work on just one corner of a room, we add a sitting chair, floor lamp and plant. It could take weeks finding the right pieces but when it’s done it’s a little new corner of your home to be excited about. This past year we worked on a few larger projects, like new flooring, a full bathroom reno and kitchen nook. We definitely hit a few COVID related speed bumps but having them all done now is a total dream. Having on-going projects keeps our home constantly changing and evolving while also giving us fun couple things to do together.
“Having on-going projects keeps our home constantly changing and evolving”
10. Be kind ❤️
Last but probably the most important is, be kind. Whether working from home together is new because of the pandemic or you’ve been working together at home for years, there’s always room for kindness.
“there’s always room for kindness”
For us that means, appreciating each other, saying thank you for doing the dishes, giving each other hugs when we seem low, listening and being patient, the list goes on. There’s literally no end to what you can do to be kind to your partner. If I had one suggestion you could do right now, think about something you can do for your partner that would make their life a little easier, then… do it for them 😉 no strings attached.
Some final thoughts: The pandemic has been so hard on so many of us, in varying ways too. Some have lost their jobs, some have transitioned to new jobs, some have even lost loved ones. The pandemic is finite, it’s impact will be written in books and saved in history, but what we can do for one another, what we can say and how we can help is not finite. It’s not been written in history and we can literally, positively change the wellbeing and lives of those that surround us. Cat and I hope that you got a few tips, had a laugh and that ultimately you share this with your partner and that it brings the two of you closer than you’ve ever been before. Sending you our love. – Jeff + Cat