I never thought I would be one of those couples who both work from home, but we have been doing it for around 3 years now. Thats a long time considering we have been married for the same amount too. Keal (my hubby) and I both used to have full time jobs that we left because we had big dreams, wanted to travel together and try things on our own.
Today was his first day back on a full time salary job. This means that we are no longer working from home together, it’s just me, and the change has definitely hit harder than I thought. We needed that steady income to support our dreams and bills, we needed health insurance and a bit more stability in our lives, so he took one for the team. Sometimes it happens and you need to do whatever it takes to push through and keep going. Either way, its going to be a change and we are going to be re-adjusting to a new routine and being apart.
With that in mind, I have been thinking a lot today about everything that I have learned from working from home with my husband and how that affected our marriage in good ways and bad. I have 3 years of trial and error under my belt, so I want to share with you my top tips for couples who both work from home. These will help you create a sane and cool environment that will lead to less fights and more productivity!
Tip #1: Get Different Designated Working Spots!
I first started working from home by myself in our small one bedroom apartment in Santa Monica. I was cramped in a corner with a makeshift desk. Once he quit his job and started freelancing with me, the one bedroom apartment felt like a tiny studio in Manhattan where the kitchen is in your bedroom, not to mention our big dog. For your mindset to be clear on your goals and work, you need to create a cool and calm working environment. You need space to create! If you don’t have enough space, try coffee shops, it gets you out of the house, lowers your electricity bill and gives you both a bit of breathing room.
If you have a slightly bigger home, create designated working spots. This is so important to separate your living space from your work space so that when you’re done and enter the “living area” you can’t take work with you. Boundaries are good! Once we got a townhome, I worked from the kitchen nook and he worked from the living room. I didn’t see him at all unless it was lunch time or we needed a walk to brainstorm. Having separate spaces gave us breathing room to work on our own stuff. We are even building an office in our tandem garage so that we can have total separation from our living space! The thing is, you don’t want to step on each others toes, space is good… make it!
Tip #2: Establish Some Ground Rules
Communication is key! Whether you are both working on the same thing or have separate clients/companies, you need to establish some rules. Are you going to be working normal hours from 9-5? Will you take lunch together? Pretend you both work in a real office, what would the routine be that helps both of you be more productive?
You need to be open and honest with your partner. I always stopped working at 3pm because I know after that all I create is garbage. I am more productive in the mornings right after coffee. In contrast, Keal works better in the afternoons, so we had to create some rules and accommodate our weirdo schedules so that we could have time to eat, relax, work and not get on each others nerves. It made for a better work day. Before we did this, I would be done with work and waiting around for him getting cranky in the process. By building our ground rules we saved ourselves a lot of headaches and fights haha.
Tip #3: Become Accountability Buddies
The best thing about couples who both work from home is that you have the best accountability buddy right there to support you. One of my favorite things about working with Keal was that we could take long walks to recharge our creative juices, brainstorm and hold ourselves accountable.
Sometimes you need a sounding board to test out your ideas, sometimes you need an opinion to see if what you’re doing makes sense outside your head and sometimes you just need a buddy to celebrate your wins with and talk out the struggle. Having your partner be there for you is one of the best things about couples who both work from home. Keal and I had morning “meetings” where we would walk our dog around the block before we started working and talked about what we were each doing that day, what we wanted to accomplish and where we were at with our projects… kind of like a check in. By the afternoon if we needed a bit of creativity time, we would take another walk to get out of the house and brainstorm ideas together. It was awesome and one of my favorite things of working from home with him.
Tip #4: Keep Your Life Separate
Working from home can be distracting as is, but put your partner in the mix and it gets a whole lotta more complicated. It’s so easy for thoughts to pop into your head about your home. “Did you remember to take out the trash last night? Did the electrician call you back yet? Do you remember if I switched out the laundry?” You both live in the same home and there is always some stuff going on that needs to be addressed. Working from home makes it easier to let things slip through while you are working, I cannot tell you the times I stopped to do laundry while I was working, interrupted Keal with questions about house work or times when we both got distracted by the couch and TV. Keep your life separate!
When you’re at work, you’re at work, even if its out of your kitchen counter. Make a point to not interrupt your partner with house chores, reminders, and other life events. Wait until lunch time or the weekend! Respect each others work time 😉
Tip #5: Get Out Of The House At Least Once a Week
Working from home can be sooo draining. You don’t get to see anyone other than your partner, your pets, and the inside of your house. Switching up your environment will not only expose you to new energy that can fuel your creativity (and productivity!), but it will also make you less stir crazy and prone to lash out at each other.
Before you start feeling like two animals trapped in a cage, change your scenery! Go out into the world and see other people. Join a co-working space, go on coffee runs together or alone, have lunch at a new place each week, whatever works and gets you out of those four walls. Fresh air and a change of scenery will maintain your sanity and keep your relationship healthy.
Working from home with your partner is honestly the best. I’m going to miss it! But I know it’s not forever and we will be working together before I know it.
Would you work with your partner/spouse? Share your story with me below!