Keep the fun alive while living together and getting things done.
I'm a homeschooling mom of three with a husband who works a lot from home. As a result I've spend a lot of time and trial-and-error figuring how to live together almost continuously so that we all still like each other. What I've come to realize is this:
Don't bug the people you live with.
It's easier said than done sometimes. Dishes. Groceries. Garbage. Maintenance inside the house. Maintenance in the yard. If you have kids or animals or live-ins? Talk about even more maintenance. You get it. You know it.
Living together means working together.
This sounds like an obvious concept but I didn't know the extent of it before I got married. Maybe you didn't either.
After over 16 years of family life I'm convinced that not understanding the work-life balance inside the home is where so many families go wrong. It's where kids stop reaching out to their parents to chat. It's where spouses disappear into the garage or their friendships or their iPhone. It's where people roll their eyes and stop listening.
So what do you do? How do you get things done in the house and for the household (and have your kids, partner, roommates, whoever you live with also get things done) so that you still want to be together?
It boils down to three simple rules.
1. If it has to be said that red hot minute and someone else needs to do it, do what you have to do. Say it, yell it, repeat it. If someone is late and they have to let the dog out... use your words. Sometimes loud words.
2. If it does not have to be said that red hot minute and you can say it in a way that keeps it fun, lighthearted, and positive, go ahead and say it if you want to. If you find that your comment about loading the dishwasher puts a damper on the dinner conversation, next time use rule #3.
3. Communicate non red-hot minute work issues through work channels. There are many choices.
But what about general conversation?
It's always a good rule of them to ask someone if they are ready to have a conversation or answer a question. There they are, sitting there reading something. Ask them before you launch into your daily download or find out if they took out the garbage to the curb. "Is this a good time to talk about...?" They may say yes. They may say, "let me finish this chapter".
My point is: work is work and we all need a break from it. A mental break. An emotional break. A physical break. A safe break.
Allow your audience to get into "work mode" before you talk about work. Let them shift gears. Set aside time for it. Make a work-flow. And ask those you live with to give you the same courtesy.
Once you separate (when it’s a burden) the business of living together from actual life together the stress levels in your house and in those live-in relationships will decrease. The people at home–you included–will relax more without those unnecessary (and sometimes just downright unpleasant) interruptions.
What happens when you don't fear the interruptions?
You will play more together. Reach out to each other more. Enjoy each other’s company more.
You will love living together more even while things still get done.
Most of the time. ;)
This is one of the most profound parenting principles there is:
Is more than one person in the room cranky pants at the same time?