SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 45

FEATURE ARTICLES
Work-Love Balance:
The Untold Tale of a Res Life Couple
Alyssa Mitchell, University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Tyler Placeres, Elon University
It is a tale as old as time, a duty phone tune as old as song. Many of you reading this article will be familiar with
the ideology of work-life balance, but something fewer of us think of is balancing those competing aspects along
with love. This becomes particularly apparent for entry-level residence life professionals in a role that is live-on
with the on-call capacity with a partner.
For those familiar with this role and a plethora of others in housing and residence life, we have become pros
of explaining to others what we do for a living. We have mastered the random explanations along with the
less serious descriptions that invite a chuckle or a multitude of questions. We have the " sorry, I can't go, I'm
on-call " , explaining to the DMV that our residence hall is also our address and will look strange, navigating
intricate parking rules when you have off-campus visitors, and how some streets don't show up on random map
applications. What we have noticed is that it is a whole other layer when both you and your partner live on and
work at separate campuses.
Our hope for this article is that it will tell the tale of a partnership that has had to discover how to care for a
relationship while also balancing the requirements of our demanding positions. If anything, we hope this article
will be at the very least entertaining and perhaps you walk away with insight into a partnership where both
people serve in a live-on, on-call capacity.
For context, we have been living in separate residence halls on different campuses for the past four years of our
relationship. It has been eye opening, challenging, and, at times, exhausting. Our experiences navigating our
work-love balance have, without a doubt, made us a stronger partnership and have required us to have critical and
important conversations together. Below you will find some of our biggest takeaways from our experiences over
the past four years.
Scheduling
1. Due to the nature of our jobs, everything has to be scheduled either by the semester or each individual
week just to keep our lives semi-organized. We mainly do this because it would be challenging to see
each other on most weeknights without having a proper schedule of who would be driving where, what
we are eating, and who we might be hanging out with on a given night. For the most part, this has been
successful, but nobody can predict last-inute changes or emergencies that may happen on individual
campuses.
2. Duty: We both do our best to schedule our duty weeks to coincide so we both are able to fulfil those
responsibilities out of the way together. This allows us to spend quality time together when not on call,
allowing for easier vacation planning and hanging out with friends or family.
3. Staff Meetings: This might be the most challenging thing to plan around. Trying to schedule student
staff meetings on the same night is down to student schedules or institution/department culture.
Tyler's department has a strict Wednesday night student staff meeting while Alyssa's meetings are
based on the student staff's individual schedules. Most times, this led to having meetings on different
nights, but the semesters for which staff meetings could match were truly a breath of fresh air.
Programming
1. Programming is a huge component of many live-in residence life roles that provide hurdles to
the amount of quality time we can and get to spend together in any given week. Most, if not all,
programming is done during the evening times or on weekends. It would also be important to note
that we have to be present, whether in-person or virtually, for most programming as well. This meant
many weeks were spent either on separate campuses due to the scheduling conflicts that were based on
student schedules or the institutional culture we were part of.
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