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What Couples Do to Strengthen Relationships in Lockdown

The pandemic has forced impossible tradeoffs. As fragmented parents search for hidden bandwidth, the strain on couples has grown. Maintaining spark through the happy chaos of life with kids is difficult. But to completely revamp home life and face Covid as a team, often under the watchful gaze of children, is a herculean effort.

Over 1,200 parents shared their pandemic stories since March. The majority are Mothers (95%) who are either married (85%) or live with their partner (7%.) And lockdown continues to challenge relationships.

In the spring (March – June 6th) about a third (36%) felt they were doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ as a spouse or partner. By the summer, it jumped to almost half (48%) and by the fall (September – November 6) it climbed to 52%. Dr. Yael Schonbrun, Clinical Psychologist, Author and Couples Therapist, shares strategies for the most commonly cited relationship trials of Covid.

Be Generous with Self-Compassion

Yael explained, “Self-compassion offers a raft through the roughest life waters and is available to each of us, even when nothing else is. It involves three Continue reading “What Couples Do to Strengthen Relationships in Lockdown”

Social Distance Does not Make the Heart Grow Fonder

Are Couples Closer or Farther Apart? It’s Both

“(I need) a more supportive spouse who understands that just because I’m working from home doesn’t mean I get to be responsible for all of the housework and childcare. My job still needs to get done.

“… I wish I had a support system. Dealing with everything on my own and walking on eggshells around my husband is hard emotionally.”

”…I love that I am working less and bringing in less money, and my spouse isn’t complaining about it.”

“Spending more time with my daughter and spouse. Bonding with spouse over how to relax.”

Over 1,200 parents shared their pandemic stories since March. The majority (92%) are Mothers (95%) and either married (85%) or live with their partner (7%.) As they continue to work without childcare, breaks or diversions, most crave more “time,” “sleep” and “quiet,” preferably “alone” for their wellbeing. And with their villages at a social distance, they expect hands-on solidarity from their partners.

Every marriage has its fault lines. And with the pressure of home becoming the default office, school and play space, it can feel like a sanctuary or cage. Overall, surveyed parents report more conflict and resentment. Yet, surprisingly, some couples are thriving in Continue reading “Social Distance Does not Make the Heart Grow Fonder”

It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better

Takeaways from ‘The Working Mom’s Playbook to Quarantine’ Panel Discussion

We learned how to compartmentalize work for sanity, presence and productivity but the separation is part of what makes it hard. Hiding the messiness of child-rearing from work and the appetite of work from our families, was tiring.

Now we’re trying to work, find work or start businesses during a pandemic and cultural revolution. Samantha Skey moderated a thoughtful discussion during last month’s BlogHer event with Super Mamas Karolina Kurkova, Eve Rodsky and Dara Tresseder.

They shared what they’ve embraced amidst the chaos and the need to change our systems at home. Now is a tumultuous yet perfect time to reexamine everything we’re doing. Remember, most of us were not emotionally or physically well before COVID19.
Continue reading “It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better”

How to Manage the Increased Mental Load Under Quarantine

I gave my son the same math homework twice, started my daughter’s Zoom call late and forgot to pull chicken from the freezer. That was yesterday. Because it hasn’t felt holiday-like, I forgot to buy jelly beans. Between debates about ‘carrying the one’ with my oldest and playing musical-rooms for video calls, I’ve been working at half-speed. When I spoke with my attorney, a mother of 3, to apologize for ignoring her emails, I admitted to fighting mental fog. She agreed and said, “I feel like I did when my kids were babies!” Exactly.

The mental load for Moms, from the to-do list in our heads, isn’t new. It starts when our kids are in diapers but it’s increased with COVID19. Big time. We’re relearning how to work, live and parent all at once, which strains our cognitive capacity. When the routines dissolve, school’s at home and housework multiplies, what are our options? Although we have to approach it differently, we can lighten the mental load during this surreal time.

Why we Can’t Concentrate

In most families, Moms remember the haircuts, permission slips and camp deadlines. This invisible choreography is at the heart of overdo and never-done. We tend to forget our brains have limits and it helps to understand what they are. I spoke with Dr. April Seifert, Psychologist and Co-founder of Peak Mind and she explained, “Any time we’ve got way too much on our mind that we’re trying Continue reading “How to Manage the Increased Mental Load Under Quarantine”

What Happens in Your Marriage When You Try to Set Personal Boundaries?

Coupled Moms who try to set limits get different reactions. However most experience extremes. They are either, rewarded with stronger connection or penalized with passive aggression, from their partners.

How does setting boundaries with your partner affect the relationship? Nearly 200 coupled Moms responded to this question anonymously. The results? Like everything-married-life, it’s complicated. Positive outcomes only slightly outpace negative ones for surveyed Moms. Trying to protect time and energy by renegotiating expectations with your spouse, gets tricky.

“It’s hard to ask for time for myself. When I do ask, even after a full day at work and taking care of the house and kids, I feel like my partner isn’t supportive. Even if he’s not doing anything productive himself. It makes me resentful.”

One surveyed Mom’s response

Did you understand how marriage would change after kids? Right. Few people do. Hours of togetherness become little scraps of Continue reading “What Happens in Your Marriage When You Try to Set Personal Boundaries?”

Yes, You Absolutely Can Raise Your Self-Care Bar

“I believe Mothers standing up for themselves is the highest form of self-care. Higher than any massage or relaxing sound machine,” Said Katherine Goldstein, an award-winning journalist and Founder of The Double Shift podcast. She added, “…Getting in touch with your anger, with your experience, is a powerful form of self-care. Forcing yourself to accept unfair treatment, unequal relationships and bad workplaces is what’s really causing people to feel like ‘I need self-care, I’m so stressed.’ If you have a partner, tell him he has to do some f*cking housework okay?” I laughed in agreement. Katherine said, “I know it’s easier said than done. It’s easier to recommend a Continue reading “Yes, You Absolutely Can Raise Your Self-Care Bar”

It’s Time for Moms and Dads to Have an Open Conversation

Share housework, childcare and the mental load with your partner!

Me: Visibly surprised to see my son on screen after calling to FaceTime with my husband. “Hi honey. You’re still up? Where’s your sister?”

Son: Moves the camera over an inch. “She’s right here.” My daughter, who doesn’t look up, is eating popcorn while staring intently at her iPad.

Me: “I actually called to talk to Daddy, can you put him on please?”

Husband: “Hey…”

Me: Hi. “Sooooo…. do you know what time it is?”

Husband: “It’s late, yes, I’m sorry.”

I ended the call frustrated. When traveling for work, I still micromanage from afar. Whether it’s homework, or bedtime, the routines fall apart if I’m away. I fret and we fight. I called earlier and spoke with the kids. This call, the after-bedtime-call, was to catch up with my husband.

My seat neighbor on the train looked at me, before he said, “If it makes you feel any better, we have that exact conversation in my family.” I smiled. Yes I  Continue reading “It’s Time for Moms and Dads to Have an Open Conversation”

Ask for More! The Roadmap to Equal Partnership At Home

#MomsSelf-Care #ShareTheInvisibleWorkLoad #StrongCouplesBuildStrongFamilies

In most families, household and childcare logistics fall to Mom. The complexity of scheduling everything, from doctors appointments to play dates, is more laborious than you think. Stress, from juggling impossible schedules and the always-on mental to-do list, becomes oppressive. By the time we realize it’s unsustainable, we’re exhausted and desperate for relief.

Eventually, the epiphany that one person needn’t ‘own’ all of the kid and household planning in a two-adult family, brings hope. Until then, trying to renegotiate with our spouse, kicks off an unexpectedly draining and emotional chess match. Love for our kids is unconditional, but the spousal bond is different. We trust and commit with strings. We expect mutual support of our dreams and well-being.

“Even mothers who work for pay are still doing twice the amount of housework and child care as fathers,” Continue reading “Ask for More! The Roadmap to Equal Partnership At Home”

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