How I'm Maintaining My Work-life Balance In Quarantine

5 Min Read

The day I started writing this essay, I got in a spat with my husband while I was baking brownies with the kids. He didn't understand why I had doubled the recipe. Despite the fact that I announced this fact multiple times, because I wanted to make them thick like I did as a child. As soon as I poured the batter into the pan, he came in and said, "Oooh, that's going to be so thick! Shouldn't we split the batter into two pans?" I saw red; I lashed out on him telling him how dare he question my nostalgia brownies and why not just say, "Thank you for doing this with the kids and I can't wait to eat them"? He looked at me like I was crazy.

Total transparency, I rarely bake so this was a big deal. On top of that fact, because of my upbringing I am hypersensitive to negative feedback when I think I am doing my best. Minutes later, I went to apologize with a spatula full of yummy raw brownie mix to make amends, but he asked me to leave him alone. We were both having a rough day. Within an hour, we were saying sorry and laughing at the stupid fight. By night time, we were pigging out my dessert and my husband acknowledged that double thick brownies are heaven. Moral of the story? This pandemic is bringing the worst and best out of us.

This pandemic is bringing the worst and best out of us.

Lately, my frustration and pent up anger has come from observing that this lockdown has brought working mothers — who normally had outside help — back ten steps with respect to work-life balance, domestic tasks, and what is expected of us when we are married with children. I can't do it all. I won't do it all. So what does that look like in my house right now?

Here's how we are trying to figure this crazy $h&% out!

Look At The Big Picture

Life is rough right now. Emotions and anxieties are sky high and it is easy to get upset over trivial things. The things that were already annoying you about your partner (big and small) are now amplified. What is a trapped couple to do? Communicate! I've been in therapy since 2015 for PTSD, which has taught me the language and given me the courage to voice my needs appropriatly, prior to that I didn't think I knew how to do so without yelling. It has taken many years to know how to feel my complex emotions, recognize where they are coming from, and then open up to my husband about what I need from him and why. We aren't perfect. Sometimes a voice will be raised here or there when we disagree or get frustrated, but the two of us know that communication will always be a work in progress. At the end of the day, we want to maintain a loving, healthy relationship — that is priority.

Let Your Inner Voice Be Heard

"Why didn't he pick up the laundry basket I left by the steps to go upstairs?" "Why did he leave his dirty dishes in the sink when the dishwasher was empty?" Sometimes you have to take that inner dialogue in your head with all those complaints about your partner "not doing enough" and say it out loud productively and with respect. Instead of yelling at your partner about why they left dirty dishes in the sink, say, "I am frustrated today because I am feeling overwhelmed with my homeschooling duties while trying to accomplish my work. Can we talk about how you can help me during the day?" Your partner is just as stressed as you are, just about different things probably. Sitting down and problem solving together will make you feel supported and part of a team versus it being about "him vs. me."

Plan Ahead

Okay, I am going to say it, men don't exactly plan in advance as well as women do. My husband admits this fact all the time! Instead of forcing him to figure it out on his own, I turn it into a team effort.

Okay, I am going to say it, men don't exactly plan in advance as well as women do.

On Sunday, we ask each other what our week looks like, pointing out meeting-heavy days or stressful deadlines. Each night we review our schedules again, so we can cover one another, which prevents only one person becoming responsible for watching over the kids all the time. We switch tag team who is responsible for being the "teacher" each day of the week. Sometimes we put Google Calendar invites on our work calenders as reminders for things like when one of us needs to be on a Zoom call and the kids can't be using up our bandwidth. Our short-term memory isn't the best these days, so constant check-ins are saving us.

What Can Each Of You Own?

My husband always says how happy he is that I can "keep so many things straight," so he doesn't have to. But even I have a breaking point, and the onus can't always be on one person to remember everything. That's the mental load we all know about as mothers. What household or homeschooling to-dos can you two split up and each be accountable for? There are things your partner can manage, such as being in charge of a certain subject for homeschooling, planning the week of meals, or disinfecting/quarantining mail and packages before touching them (my husband leads the charge on this because I will touch everything and forget to wash my hands).

Sometimes, I ask my husband to handle things that aren't on his radar. I may not have the time, but it will drive me crazy if it isn't done. For example, my son's school asked for a photo of him for the yearbook (they never got to take school pics) and they wanted us to decorate a page for him. While I was catching up on my work at 9PM after the kids went to bed, my husband worked on the yearbook stuff. Although not a huge priority, in the end, we wanted our son to be included in this memory book and it was worth the few minutes spent for a lifetime of memories.

Read more from Nubia DuVall Wilson on her Thrive Blog at nubiaduvall.com and follow her on Instagram and on Facebook @EncounterswithNubia

Creative DIY Tips for Making Your Own Calendar

The current state of the world definitely affected us in many ways, it made us stay locked up in our homes away from all the social events and seemingly fun stuff. But the responsibilities didn't just vanish into thin air, they are still there, waiting to be organized and prepared. Times are super hectic and you are probably not in the mood to think about the foreseeable future, but there are ways to turn in into a fun time. Starting a journal or making a simple calendar can bring you peace, use that creative time to yourself and relax while doing it. Grab your colored pencils, stickers, scraps, and everything in between, your inner DIY queen is about to jump out!

Fill in the blank

So probably the easiest way to start when it comes to making your own calendar is by simply printing a blank template found online. This way you'll have a base, a blank canvas if you will. Take all the materials that you have in your house, like washi tapes, sticky notes, glittery colorful pens and anything you can think of that could work as a decoration on your calendar. And go at it! There are no rules when it comes to decorating, it's super personal and it can differ from person to person.

The only real advice you'll need is to leave some space while decorating, don't overdo it since it will clutter and distract you from the written parts. Finding the perfect template that will suit your aesthetic is extremely easy and fast, a simple google search could get you whatever you want and the best part is, it's free! There are many printable options out there, so don't worry about not finding something you'd like, the possibilities are endless and you'll find just the right calendar you imagined!

Start from scratch

If you don't have a printer at home or you're just determined to make the calendar yourself, there are awesome ways to make the best and most unique personalized calendar there is. This gives you the full freedom to do whatever you can think of, want to make a calendar from old newspapers, do it! Want to cut out a certain shape and disguise the calendar as an art piece in your kitchen, why not?

Nothing is stopping you when it comes to unleashing your creative side, use everything that you can get your hands on, think outside the box, don't be afraid to experiment. Making a calendar from scratch is an amazing opportunity to explore your artistic side, especially if you've been busy with work and responsibilities. This is a great excuse to do something creative, at the end of the day you are making it for the purpose of being more organized and having everything mapped out and planned. So make this time, the best time possible, be free and create!

Mix and match

Since there are absolutely no rules when making any diy project at home, what's stopping you from making the ultimate, super personal calendar! If you have basic knowledge in photoshop, you can even modify the blank calendars you got online, add pictures of your loved ones and family, maybe your pets or anything you like, and then print it out. Or you can print the blank template right away and add pictures or polaroids later on by using some washi tape.

Also, you can even paint over the printed blank calendar, this is a good option for those who aren't as skilled, so you'll have a base to start, just dip in your paintbrush in some acrylic or watercolor paints (or whatever you have around the house) and go for it. This is a great way to start doing artsy projects while still having some form of direction and help.

Have fun

Sure keeping your priorities at bay and making plans and notes for everything is important...but the heart of this project has to be your willingness to turn something as boring and blank as a calendar into something spectacular. This calendar should proudly be up on your kitchen wall, so loud and colorful it just draws your attention to it.

If the calendar is decorated, personalized, and fun to look at, maybe it will inspire you to look forward to some events or responsibilities even if you didn't feel like it in the first place. So be creative and free, there are no rules so just go at it. With everything that happened this year, try to be positive and find little joys in seemingly insignificant things like diy calendars!