Relationship therapist and clinical sexologist, Leandie Buys, is helping couples tackle some of the major changes in their relationships as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. From household chores, to home-schooling and other parenting responsibilities, the ‘new normal’ can take its toll on a relationship.
Leandie offers advice on how couples can overcome their frustrations to help build a stronger, healthier, more resilient relationship.
In my practice lately, I’ve noticed that some couples are struggling to renegotiate some of the roles and responsibilities in their household when it comes to the kids.
Before Lockdown, it may have been one parent’s main role to handle the kids, take them to school, manage after-school activities, and help with homework. Now that both parents are spending a lot more time together, they may have different opinions on how to do things.
Here are some scenarios that could take place:
Partners can’t agree on how to keep the kids occupied
Firstly, it’s important for you and your partner to decide who is ‘in charge’ of the kids for the day, and who is having an ‘off day’ or an ‘off morning’ to focus on work or other issues.
There should be some set rules about how much screen time kids are allowed, and what they are and aren’t allowed to eat. These are the important things to negotiate before the start of the day. What happens after that should be up to the parent who is ‘on’ for the day.
If they decide to do finger painting, or build a cushion fort, or get the kids involved in doing chores, then the other parent shouldn’t interfere. Just because your partner has different ideas to you, doesn’t mean they are ‘wrong’.
The things that should remain consistent are: Routine, house rules, meal times, and general discipline. The rest should be more negotiable. Particularly during high-stress times like this. Allow your partner to add their unique parenting skills to the mix.
Remember to include some quality couple time in your day
You and your partner may be spending more time together at home, but make sure to set some real ‘quality’ time aside too. Just because you’ve been in the same space for a while, doesn’t mean you’ve connected with each other emotionally or physically.
Lockdown might feel like being on holiday for the kids but for the parents it certainly is not. You’re still dealing with your normal everyday responsibilities as well as the added stress of Lockdown and job and health uncertainties. It’s important that you and your partner catch up, and build each other up at the end of the day. Remind each other that you’re facing this as a team together.
Your kids need to be taught to respect your ‘private time’ or ‘alone time’. This could take place after they’ve gone to bed at a reasonable hour, or you could take 30 minutes out of the day to spend together while the kids are doing home-school.
Make sure you add ‘quality time’ or even a ‘date night’ at home to your weekly roster. It’s important during high stress times for you and your partner to feel loved and secure, and part of a strong team.
If you and your partner are struggling to renegotiate your relationship and your responsibilities, or you’re feeling the pressure of Covid-19 lockdown take its toll, why not consider chatting to a professional counsellor?
Leandie Buys is offering online relationship counselling or tele-therapy. Find out more HERE.