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Cooped Up but Still Coupled Up!

Essential tips to help maintain a great relationship with your significant other through lockdown and beyond...

If you are not yet familiar with the acronym WFH, chances are you have been living under a (socially) distant rock for way too long. Working from Home (WFH) is a key aspect of the new normal, necessary for many traditionally, office-based workers thanks to the global pandemic. For some however, with the lockdown dragging on, WFH might be better translated as Without Future Hope!

After years spending their working days in different buildings, the majority of couples have found themselves creating workspaces in the most unlikely nooks of their homes. Those with children, even those fortunate enough to employ a nanny, are often having to juggle additional childcare and home schooling around their demanding roles. Despite now the physical proximity, many parents have found their relationship has come under greater strain over the last year.

Speaking to couples, there seems to be an increased pressure to work longer hours. “The time I would usually spend commuting into the city with my husband is now time I spend working” one Kensington based parent explained. “I log on at 7:45am and find I’m working way beyond my usual finish’s easy to say - just 5 more minutes... which then turns in to an hour or more...! There’s no train to catch at either end of the day and in the current (economic) climate, part of me feels guilty if I’m not doing that bit extra. Before the pandemic hit, I’d often meet up with my husband for drinks or dinner and decompress before returning home in the evening: Now we find ourselves grabbing a quick snack each evening while tag-teaming bedtime with the children and firing off emails. There’s just no time to relax and I’m exhausted!”

Gingerbread, the charity which advocates for fair and equitable treatment of single parents, has highlighted the particular challenges faced by lone parents. Many are struggling with isolation, are more vulnerable to sudden reductions in income or redundancy. Juggling everyday practicalities and childcare with schools closed and other groups either closed, or operating virtually, is equally challenging. While Support Bubbles are permitted, many feel they lack time or motivation to sustain any kind of romance!

So how can parents prioritise their relationships during this incredibly difficult period?

The key is to create boundaries around your work and family time. Working longer hours or skipping meal breaks does not always translate into greater productivity. In short, it‘s impossible to pour from an empty cup!

Here are some positive practices you can put into play to maintain a great relationship with your significant other;

  • Have a realistic but firm start and finish time to your work day. (If working from home don’t be tempted to keep your computer on longer- switch it off!)

  • Make time in the middle of the day for a decent lunch in a different part of your home or garden and a short walk locally (together whenever possible). If you are not living together, perhaps use the time to call your partner for a catch up. Getting out is much healthier and enjoyable than a rushed sandwich at your desk. Air any work or personal concerns and make a point of knowing and empathising with the particular difficulties your partner is facing right now.

  • Plan a “just for two” evening at least once a week. Make an effort to get the children in bed slightly earlier (some resort to putting all the clocks in the house forward by an hour!) Change into clothes that you would usually wear for an evening out together (an effort after those elasticated yoga pants, we know, but worth it!!) Cook something that holds a special memory for you both or select a cuisine you both enjoy.

  • Can’t cook? There are many restaurants offering meal boxes for delivery with dishes requiring little more than an oven and two forks Try Hame by Adam Handling. Or for more budget friendly options, the delightful, pillowy buns offered by Bao or arguably the juiciest burgers on the planet from Honest

Even if being together is not physically possible, how about ordering the same takeaway dish and enjoying over FaceTime?

  • Look through some old holiday photos or pictures from a lovely day out, pre-pandemic. Reminding yourselves that there is a different life on the other side of the current ‘ground hog day’ existence will be certain to boost your spirits and rekindle beautiful memories.

  • It might sound cliched, but love letters and poems are a wonderful way to express your deep feelings for your partner. Before technology takes over every aspect of our lives, it’s a good time to invest in some luxury stationery and a proper fountain pen. Classic laid paper from Smythson is a good starting point.

Or try the house ranges or personalised styles from the Wren Press in Mayfair who offer a bespoke service fit for even the most discerning scribe.

With Valentines day just around the corner, what better excuse could there be to prioritise your relationship?

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