Well, my husband has been home for two weeks. Tomorrow is the first day all four of us will be home at the same time. How on earth are we going to keep from tripping all over each other?

As a work-at-home mom, I’ve found that being busy makes a great example for everyone. If I’ve got work to do and I head for the home office right after breakfast, that’s a nonverbal cue to John that he’s on his own for ways to fill his morning. I usually give him an update about what I’m up to — not because he’s my boss or I have to clear anything with him, but because that shows that I take what I’m doing seriously and I expect him to, too. If I tell him I have an interview and two hours worth of editing, but that if I get it all done I’ll be able to take a long lunch and watch a half-hour of baseball with him, then he knows he’s expected to be productive until then.

A lot of this depends on the kind of relationship you have with your partner. It’s hard to get people to take working at home seriously, sometimes. If you have a partner who’s got project and hobbies and other interests, then a long term of unemployment for them is not going to be too much of a bother. John has three large projects to work on while he’s furloughed, and when I’m working at home, there’s no reason he can’t work at home, either.

Several years ago, when I had no idea how to work at home and he was unemployed for a month, we were both miserable. It felt like we were always underfoot with each other, and we grizzled and argued a lot. But because we both now have purpose and things to do, we are happy to see each other at lunch and tell each other about our day. By taking your own work at home seriously, you can inspire others — and make them respect the time you need to get your work done.

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