Sharing Spaces

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My family recently moved into a new home (yes, during a pandemic and no, I don’t recommend that). I finally have an office. No more setting up – and taking down – at the dining room table or in a corner of my bedroom. It has everything I need to work from home.

Because it is so functional, inviting and comfy, my husband has inserted himself into my space. Now granted, my desk is actually a dining room table (much more functional) and I did buy two chairs, but I was hoping it would be a place for me to truly focus on work. 

Instead we are constantly checking our schedules so we both aren’t there for Zoom meetings. We argue over what music to stream. My husband is a software engineer and needs dubstep to get in the zone and inspire his coding. My music choice changes day to day and leans more to Yacht Rock Radio or Motown Classics. I love scents and have all sorts of good smells in my space, it makes my husband gag. We even argued over which side of the table we claimed (I wanted the one with the better virtual meeting background).

We recently celebrated our 19th anniversary and this all feels like another way to test our ability to give and take, to determine how flexible we are, and to truly understand what bothers us so much (chewing, typing, throat clearing) that we are willing to give up our seat at the table and move to another spot in the house.

CNN Business recently had a piece on 7 tips to survive working from home with your spouse. There were four that really stick out for me;

Have a morning scrum

This is our daily check in time; what is your day like, what meetings do you have. Talking through this helps the flow of the day. I know not to get involved in a big project if I am going to have to get up and leave and move in ten minutes.

Have a designated “Do Not Disturb” place

Well, this is ‘my’ office. It has a door that can be closed so we don’t interrupt  meetings. But I have mentioned that there are other rooms in our home with doors . . . 

Have a code word

This is a good idea for a partnership in general. A code word or phrase can be all your partner needs to hear to know you are about to explode and are reaching your stress limit. We don’t have one yet, but I am thinking something silly like “time to make the donuts” would work. This way I don’t have to get into what’s bothering me, just that I need to step away.

Blame ‘Frank’

Did you have an imaginary friend growing up that you blamed everything on? Well it might be time to bring them back. It can help break the tension. “Karen left a mess in the microwave. Ken left the coffee maker on.” It might be a little passive aggressive, but it might also help bring some humor.

But I am still wondering who my HR representative is when I have issues with my co-worker?

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Tracy
Tracy owns Safe Spaces, a consulting and training firm that focuses on building resilient families, communities and organizations (www.sfspcs.com). She is also an Authorized Facilitator and Certified Instructor with Darkness to Light, www.d2l.org, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. Tracy grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education and most recently as a Public Educator for a child abuse prevention non-profit. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to a 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. Self-care includes getting to know her new community, having lunch with friends, pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family.

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