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Many working dads have another role as a partner. It’s been tricky to find time for relationships this year but it’s worth it.
A topic that’s come up time and again in my discussions with working dads about the experience of lockdown is the lack of time alone.
Even the most gregarious and family focused man needs time to himself sometimes.
Lockdown made that tricky as more of us worked from home and many were dealing with homeschool too. Families were flung together.
Those that seem to have handled the situation best are the ones where mum and dad, or dad and dad, worked as a team. Communication was key. Many couples worked closely to plan who needed to work when and who could take on the childcare. I heard this week of a couple who even erected a white board in the kitchen to strategise together.
With many children back at school since the summer but home working still encouraged couples have found themselves sharing an office. That too needs management and give and take.
But there’s more to being in a couple than management.
It’s half term season. Scots schools are back, Welsh schools are suspended, English schools are either starting or midway through a much needed break. With widespread travel restrictions that means a full house for many again.
It’s vital working dads carve out some time for themselves. Most working dads have another role as a partner. It’s also important to make time for your relationship.
Just as the companies that thrive through the upheaval of coronavirus are those that offer empathy and understanding to their employees so partners in the home need to have those qualities at the front of their mind.
Everyone’s stressed. That means everyone needs support too. A recent US article caught my eye with its tips for supporting your partner. Though it read a lot like it was aimed slightly more at women. It didn’t seem that far off suggesting a good wife has a gin and tonic waiting when her man walks through the door. But there was some fundamentally good ideas in there that any working dad ought to take to heart.
Offer empathy and understanding to your partner
Listen. With everything else that’s going on plus the constant temptation of a smartphone it’s easy to only half listen when your partner’s explaining her concerns. Give your full attention to one another.
Offer support. Use supportive language. Do not get caught up in a competition to prove who is more stressed. And if, as seems likely on occasion, there’s something else going on then leave the door open to discuss issues further at a later time.
Encourage outside interests. It’ll take the pressure off you a little if your partner’s not relying you as his or her only outlet to vent. Meeting up with friends and taking part in activities is inevitably tricky due to coronavirus restrictions. Don’t rule out WhatsApp as an helpful alternative to proper human contact and the virtual pub or virtual quiz should not be snubbed just because they remind you of the spring lockdown
Make quality time. Switch off devices. Make your own rules about when work has to stop, but stick to them.
Talking, listening, supporting. Surely these were the things that fostered your relationship at the start. It’s hard to find time as a couple in 2020 if you’re a working dad with a partner. But if you do, it’ll make everything else so much easier to face.